Cooking classes for typhoon relief

Written by Rebecca Sodergren on


Chef Andrew Alvarez is using his culinary knowledge and Filipino heritage to benefit typhoon relief efforts in the Philippines.

A regular instructor at Gaynor’s School of Cooking on the South Side, Mr. Alvarez will teach two classes on Filipino cooking -- at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 19, which sold out, and so the school has added another class at 10 a.m. Friday, Nov. 22. The $50 ticket price will benefit the Red Cross Typhoon Haiyan Disaster Fund.

Mr. Alvarez grew up in Sewickley, but his family hails from the Philippines, and he spent several months there as a child. He still has many extended family members living there, including some in the storm-affected region. He has not yet been able to contact some of his cousins since the typhoon.

In addition to teaching at Gaynor’s, Mr. Alvarez is a cook at the Terrace Room in the Omni William Penn Hotel, Downtown, as well as a food consultant and physical trainer at MUV Integrated Physical Culture in Garfield.

He has assembled a menu for the class that will focus on some of the fundamental dishes of the Philippines. Participants will learn to prepare:

Chicken adobo, a dish Mr. Alvarez grew up eating at house parties among Pittsburgh’s Filipino community. It’s made with soy sauce, white vinegar and spices and can be prepared using chicken or pork.

Lumpia, a Filipino-style egg roll.

Halo halo, an ice cream dessert that Mr. Alvarez remembers eating with his uncle when he was a child visiting the Philippines. The dessert’s base is taro root, a root vegetable similar to sweet potatoes, and the concoction contains coconut, dried candies and fruit. “It’s very gluttonous,” Alvarez laughed, noting it blew his mind when he was just a kid accustomed to eating chocolate ice cream.

Jasmine rice with roasted garlic.

Kare kare, an Oxtail stew that is more technical than some of the other dishes.

Cucumber salad.

Gaynor Grant, owner of the cooking school, is planning a silent auction during the classes. Donations still are coming in, but thus far she’s collected hotel packages, restaurant gift cards and gift baskets for the auction.

“Honestly, I’m very surprised by the response I’m getting to this,” Mr. Alvarez said.

For information or reservations or to donate, visit the website or call 412-325-2703.

Ashley Baker photo of Chef Alvarez at his first catering job at a wedding in Sewickley

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