The Proust Culinary Questionnaire: Roel Canafranca and Ariel del Rosario, Filistix

In the late nineteenth century, French novelist Marcel Proust participated in an exercise which could be thought of as the Facebook of its era—he answered a questionnaire about himself in a friend’s Confession Album.

Proust’s answers have been published, in one form or another, for more than a century. Many have used the questionnaire for their own devices, the most notable being Vanity Fair’s Proust Questionnaire featuring celebrities. The Tomato gives it a culinary twist.

Roel Canafranca and Ariel del Rosario have been putting out tasty food for over a decade: in their trailer on Rice Howard Way; in their truck at the downtown market and at MacEwan and UofA. Their journey could have ended there when Aramark ended their lease at both locations. Happily, reps from UofA tasted their food at the first What the Truck Festival and invited them to the Students’ Union Building (SUB).

They decided to take the plunge—opening a well-designed spot in the Financial Building downtown, offering casual lunch during the day (with all compostable plates and cutlery) and a delicious, more refined dining experience at night. You will still find them in SUB and at various festivals in the summer, but the truck is gone. They sold it to Boocha last year.

Filistix, 10621 100 Avenue, 780-716-4708,

Roel (L) and Ariel of Filistix
Roel (L) and Ariel of Filistix
Image by Gerry Rasmussen

“Edmonton,” say Roel and Ariel.

Years cooking
“25,” says Roel; “30,” says Ariel.
“We got our first kitchen jobs in high school,” says Ariel.

Where would you like to live?
“Edmonton. I love my city,” says Roel.
“Bohol, an island in the Philippines,” says Ariel.

Your Favourite food/drink?
“Eggplant torta and steamed rice,” says Roel. “A torta is a Filipino style omelette.”
“Do I have to pick just one?” says Ariel. “Sunrise brand soya bean milk, really fresh uni, banh mi from Nhon Hoa, crispy pata (pork shanks), Nurnberger bratwurst, profiteroles, chocolate mousse, medium rare ribeye, tonkotsu ramen from Jangara, sukiyaki beef from Matsuya.”

What would you be doing if you weren’t cooking?
“I can’t imagine my life without cooking,” says Roel.
“Developing new business concepts and launching them,” says Ariel.

What do you most appreciate in your friends?
“Loyalty and a sense of humor,” says Ariel.
“Positivity, determination and hard work,” says Roel.

In a dish?
“Savoury and spicy. I’ve been putting Sambal Bajak on everything lately,” says Roel.
“Balance and depth of flavour,” says Ariel. “Southeast Asian cuisine is a perfect example.”

In a cook?
“Being humble and grateful,” says Roel.
“A willingness to learn and continuously improve,” says Ariel.

In a wine?
“I’m more of an ice-cold Coke kind of guy,” says Roel. “Me too,” says Ariel.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
“Buddy,” says Roel. “Buddy,” says Ariel.

Who would be at your dream dinner table?
“Music composers Richard D. James and Oliver Lieb,” says Roel.
“David Chang, Jóse Mourinho, Jo Koy, Bruce Lee, Rafael Nadal, Manny Pacquiao and Nicole Ponseca,” says Ariel.

Who would cook?
“Mom,” says Roel.
“A collaboration between Jordy Navarra (Toyo Eatery), Chad Valencia (Lasa LA), Tom Cunanan (Bad Saint), Charles Olalia (Ma’am Sir LA), all new school Filipino chefs,” says Ariel.

Current culinary obsession or exploration
“Our ongoing discovery of Filipino food, the use of patis (fish sauce) and bagoong (fermented shrimp paste),” they both say.

Best (cooking) thing that ever happened to you?
“The opening of our University of Alberta CAB location,” they both say.

Meaningful/crazy food experience?
“Working at the Sunflower Café back in 1998,” says Roel. “I worked with amazing people.”
“Line cook at Café Select,” says Ariel. “It was the first time I was ever thrown into the fire and handled dinners on my own.”

“My mom,” says Roel. “My maternal grandmother,” says Ariel.

Favourite casual cheap and cheerful/afterwork food?
“I’ve been bringing home our Bagoong XO fried rice everyday lately; it’s an umami explosion,” says Roel.
“I don’t really eat out after work anymore, but I used to go to Garden Bakery, late night at Café Select, Chin Kee,” says Ariel. “When I eat out now it’s usually The Marc, Lee House, Japanese Kobe Bistro or New Dragon Palace.”

“Success is the good fortune that comes from aspiration, desperation, perspiration and inspiration,” says Roel.
“Do good, be good, work hard, try your best, don’t give up, family first,” says Ariel.

What’s next
“Working on our new downtown location,” says Roel.
“Likewise,”says Ariel.