Engracia “Aling Asiang” Cruz-Reyes (born 1892 – died 1975) is known as the Mother of Filipino Cooking. She is an icon in the country’s food history and culture.
Aling Asiang and her husband Alexander, a lawyer who later on became a Supreme Court justice established a restaurant now known as Aristocrat Restaurant. Aristocrat, an icon pertaining to fine dining is recognized as the Philippines’ Most Popular Restaurant.
She is commended by the National Historical Institute with a historical marker at Plaza Raja Soliman.
She was born Engracia Cruz to a poor family in Navotas in 1892. Her mother was a street peddler who sold food sauces and fruits, and who later managed a small neighborhood eatery popularly known in the Philippines as carinderias . She developed her cooking skills at a young age, having to prepare the meals for her five younger siblings while her parents were out working for a living. She was able to complete only four years of primary education.
In 1928, Aling Asiang and her husband opened a small canteen on the ground floor of their house along Marquez Street in front of St. Theresa’s College. Having twelve children and ten other relatives living with them, their business helped their family to make both ends meet. The canteen was called Lapu-Lapu and it was the first restaurant to serve native fare at a time when American cuisine dominated the land. The students of STC were one of their avid customers.
Then Aling Asiang and Alex decided to continue their food business by opening up a rolling store. She planned to name it after her eldest son, Andres and so the enterprises’ name, “Andy’s Rolling Store” was created. It was supposed to be located at the Ateneo de Manila University then along Padre Faura Street in Manila.
Her son Andy however, did not feel proud of his name in a moving kiosk. So his mother then told him that she will just name the store after his son’s aristocratic friends. Thus, the name Aristocrat was born in 1936.
In 1938, Aling Asiang decided to put up a permanent restaurant on its current site on Roxas Boulevard. The success of their restaurant eventually led to the expansion of the restaurant. They occupied the entire place, which, to this day, they continue to lease from the Fernandez’ clan.
- Name: Engracia “Aling Asiang” Cruz-Reyes
- Also Known As: Mother of Filipino Cooking
- Birthday: April 16, 1892
- Place of Birth: Navotas
- Died: July 6, 1975
- Spouse: Alexander Reyes
- Children: 12
- The Aristocrat Restaurant
- Culinary Institute of Aristocrat
- Republic Day Award, 1955
- Outstanding Woman of the Year Award by the Philippine Marketing Association, 1967
- Gintong Ina Award, 1982
- Acknowledged as a pioneer in the Philippine food and restaurant industry
- “Mother of the Year” award from President Ramon Magsaysay