New and Familiar Food at Roc’s Grill

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Dr. Christine P. Oriel

 

New and Familiar Food at Roc’s Grill

By Will Tigley

The economic downturn has hit many families hard, but despite the adversity two Filipinos are

turning their situation around with a new restaurant in Calgary. Opened since September 2016,

Roc’s Grill is a culinary venture by partners and owners, Chris Rocamora (who the restaurant is

named after) and Krystal Analiz.

Within the last five months, Rocamora and Analiz have been pleased with how popular Roc’s

Grill has become with consistent business during weekends, lunch and evenings. It’s a long way

from where the couple started from with Analiz a piping designer at an engineering firm and

Rocamora working as an automotive specialist.

“Even while we were working Chris and I were trying to think a business to start during this

economic downturn,” explains Analiz. “We wanted something that could sustain us over the

next few years regardless of the ups and downs of a recession.”

Soon after making the decision to start a new business Rocamora was laid off in January 2016

and Analiz was laid off the following March. As luck would have it, a week after being laid off,

Analiz received a notice of agreement for Roc’s Grill. Within another week they began

construction.

As a licensed supplier of Mark Joel’s BBQ, Rocamora says Roc’s Grill was actually conceived

during conversations between himself and Mark Joel’s BBQ while playing together on a

basketball league.

“We were originally thinking about just being a Mark Joel franchise in the south,” says

Rocamora. “There’s no one else providing lechon in south Calgary, but we had the space for a

full restaurant so thought, why not?”

Analiz explains that the partnership with Mark Joel to provide licensed lechon has really helped

Roc’s Grill, especially contributing to sales for the restaurant in January and February.

Analiz says, “We expected to be a bit slower the last few months, but that wasn’t the case at all.

People still needed lechon for family gatherings.”

The ability to serve lechon has also helped contribute to one of Roc’s Grill’s signature dishes: the

Lechon Poutine. It’s one of the dishes that Analiz says is helping Roc’s Grill stand out.

“We want to give people something new,” says Analiz. “We don’t want to just provide authentic

Filipino food because you can get that at home. We want to provide something you can’t get at

home.”

Many of the dishes are conceived by Krystal who spends time looking at Google to find

inspiration for new dishes that have a Filipino spin on them.

“We want to be different,” says Rocamora. “We have the poutine to help us with that, but also

other dishes like our Kare Kare wings. The sauce you know, but with crispy chicken wings.”

It’s about attracting new audiences for Roc’s Grill. Rocamora and Analiz know that a lot of youth

are foodies and food bloggers and through their menu they want to give them something to talk

about. Through the use of social media word about the restaurant is spreading and once

introduced to Roc’s Grill many guests come back.

Rocamora is impressed with how word is spreading. In many cases he expected most non-
Filipinos to only come if accompanying friends of Filipino families. He’s glad to see these

customers enjoy the food and consistently return.

“We want Filipino food to go mainstream,” says Analiz. “Many people are not familiar with

Filipino food and we as a community haven’t showcased the food fairly well. We need to give

them a reason to come back.”

While the innovative recipes stand out on the menu Rocamora and Analiz developed recipes for

even the traditional dishes with the help of their parents and families.

The sizzling Beef Caldereta is Rocamora’s mom’s recipe and Chicken Inasal is an authentic

Negros dish that was developed from Analiz’s aunt’s recipes.

Rocamora even acknowledges the friends involved in developing the flavours for Roc’s Grill.

“Our friend Michael Juarez who passed his Red Seal certification was one of our food advisors

on the side.”

Together with their team of cooks, Cesar, Kent, Myra, Sharon and TJ in the kitchen, Rocamora

says everything runs so smoothly because they all know what they’re doing.

“We’re so thankful for our talented cooks,” says Analiz. “They’re really involved in the recipes

and we do our best to make them happy.”

Analiz and Rocamora admit that by focusing on keeping their staff happy, the love they put into

their work shows in the food they serve. And by providing delicious food made with care, they

keep their returning customers happy.

For more information on Roc’s Grill visit them on their Facebook and Instagram channels.