The PAO Cafe is a continuation of the Filipino Food Movement in Tampa started with the creation of the PAO Truck by Chef Jonjie Sibayan.
Chef Jonjie has worked in kitchens since the age of 14 and loves what he does. He started out at a Kenny Rogers Roasters restaurant in Tampa and then went on to work for Circles Restaurant. He was the Head Chef at Kodo’s Sushi for 2 years and also a Sous-chef at JRyan’s restaurant.
He then went on to work for Il Terrazzo Italian restaurant at the Marriott Waterside in Downtown Tampa and worked as a Tournant (a chef that can run any station in the kitchen). His last job in a restaurant was at Pane Rustica (a Zagat-rated restaurant in South Tampa) before he started working for corporate caterers from 2009-2012 and founded The PAO Truck Filipino Food Truck.
The PAO Truck has been heavily involved in the Tampa Bay area and been to a number of events such as Flicks and Food Trucks, The Mayor’s Food Truck Fiesta, Brews and Bites, as well as several corporate and private events. The PAO Truck has been out to Gainesville and Ocala…to name a few.
Chef Jonjie has supported the local craft beer movement and has served food at several breweries such as Southern Brewing, Cigar City, and Big Storm Brewing.
Jonjie’s grandfather, Jose B. Sibayan, was a founder of The Pilipino-American Association of Tampa (PAAT) (http://paatoftampa.org/ABOUT_US.html) and was the first President of this organization that was founded in 1976. This organization paved the way for the Bayanihan Center
At the age of 5, Jonjie became involved with this organization and spent much of his youth and adulthood involved in Filipino dancing (such as tinikling) and music with other Filipino organization such as The Philippine Performing Arts Co. (PPAC). During college at the University of South Florida, Jonjie was actively involved in the Association of Filipino Students (AFS) and participated in dance competitions around the state.
Local events he has been involved in include AsiaFest, PhilFest, SPIFFS International Folk Fair, and more.