In the Field

Filipino Chefs in Jacksonville: Kusina

By: Lauren Titus

The Local Palate’s 2023 summer issue dives into the thriving culture of Filipino chefs in Jacksonville, Florida. Here, we highlight Kusina where co-owners, Corene Timmons and Connie King, emulate comfort and nourishment through their ensaymada and other authentic dishes.

Corene stocking the shelves of Kusina in Jacksonville

The home of the largest Filipino population in Florida is not Miami, Tampa, or Orlando. It’s Jacksonville, the only big city in Florida where the majority of immigrated residents are from Asia. With a community numbered at more than 25,000, Filipinos make up 35 percent of the city’s Asian community, and about 12 percent of all Duval County immigrants.

Until recently, even with such a significant number of Filipinos in the area, the region had been lacking in restaurants featuring cuisine from the Philippines. Eating traditional dishes at home with their children to retain their culinary heritage has historically been important to first-generation Filipinos. Now, however, the Jacksonville dining scene is benefitting from an emerging influence of second-generation Filipinos eager to introduce the food they grew up with to a wider audience.

Filipino chefs in Jacksonville, having been raised on their parents’ cooking, are using modern cooking techniques and blending ingredients from other global cuisines to create unique flavor profiles and new interpretations of traditional dishes. Today, Jacksonville diners can find anything from adobo (beef, pork, or chicken and vegetables marinated in vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, and black peppercorns) to tortang talong (eggplant dipped in a beaten egg mixture and cooked like an omelet), with plenty of options for ube (purple yam) in the mix.

Kusina Co-Owners: Connie King and Corene Timmons

Corene and Connie, sisters and owners of Kusina

Sisters Corene Timmons and Connie King grew up surrounded by the aromas of traditional Filipino cooking coming from their grandmothers’ and mother’s kitchens.

“It was a source of comfort and joy, and we knew from a young age that we wanted to share that same feeling with others. We followed our own paths in life but always kept our love for cooking alive,” Timmons says.

After following other careers and raising their families, they decided to pursue their true passion when they moved to Jacksonville.

“Connie got her culinary degree and began a successful catering business. Eventually we decided to combine our talents and open Kusina together,” says Timmons. “We were determined to bring authentic Filipino cuisine to the Jacksonville area and create a place where people could come together to enjoy a delicious meal, whether it was a comfort food for them or a brand-new experience.”

Their family has always been food oriented. “When our paternal grandparents first married, over 100 years ago, my grandmother, Inay, opened a bakery to help support them. She sold ensaymada using the same recipe that we started with,” Timmons says. “On the other side of the family, our maternal grandmother, Lola, was a meat vendor in her town in the Philippines and made longganisa hubad and tapa. These are the foundations of our silogs, and like her, we prepare our meats from scratch.”

King and Timmons explain, “We try to keep our food authentic, welcoming, and affordable to help make it accessible to a wider range of people. We believe that food has the power to bring people together, to break down barriers, and to create a sense of community. By embracing our differences, we can learn to appreciate each other’s cultures and traditions, and come to understand that we are all connected by a shared love of good food.”

Filipino Ensymada pastries from Kusina

On the Menu at Kusina


A steamed bun filled with pork, pork and egg, chicken, or bola bola (meatball)


Made with tapa (cured beef), a sunny-side-up egg, atchara, and garlic rice


A classic soft, sweet-dough pastry found in every bakery in the Philippines
(They also ship them all over the country.)

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