The Philippines is renowned for its Christmas Fiesta. Beginning in early December and continuing until after the New Year, it is a celebration unique to the largely Christian country.

“There are a lot of festivals we miss out on [in Australia] and this is a great one to celebrate because it’s really familiar and a lot of fun,” says Rice Queen head chef Jabili Mchawala.

Embracing the challenge of creating a traditional banquet that incorporates the iconic Spanish twist introduced by the country’s colonial past, Mchawala has created a menu that delightfully pays homage to the cuisine and its history.

With items including black bean and plantain empanadas, sweet and sour pork ribs and Rellenong Manok – a whole boned chicken stuffed with an assortment of bacon, sausage, beans and other vegetables – it’s shaping up to be a truly festive affair.

“I like that it’s different,” says Mchawala. “You’ve got this tiny little Asian country steeped in tradition, but they eat Spanish empanadas. It’s really cool.”

Having kicked off last week, the banquet will run throughout December, offering diners an alternative to traditional Christmas fare.

“The Philippines are a tropical island nation and like in Australia, Christmas for them is a warm summery affair, which is why it’s perfect in our Christmas climate,” says Mchawala.

“Rice Queen is all about parties,” adds manager Mathew Guthrie. “So what’s better than a month-long Philippine Fiesta for Christmas? We’re excited to be offering a non-Western take on a traditional celebration.”

Rice Queen
Level 2, 231 Smith Street, Fitzroy
(03) 9419 6624

Mon, Wed to Sun Sunday from 6pm
Tues closed