Home News Oakland chef hits it out of Oracle Park with his lumpia

Oakland chef hits it out of Oracle Park with his lumpia

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They’re scrumptious, they’re easy to eat in the stands – and they’re even shaped like baseball bats.

We’re talking about lumpia, the great Filipino appetizer. Chef-owner Alex Retodo and his Oakland-based venture, The Lumpia Company, have been serving their uber-popular fried spring rolls to San Francisco Giants fans for going on six seasons. It’s a first for a Major League Baseball stadium, he says.

And they’re not just a favorite of foodies; they’ve received the stamp of approval from local rapper E-40, a longtime lumpia lover who is now a co-owner.

So while the baseball is whizzing around the diamond at Oracle Park, Retodo and his crew are busy folding ground meat and sauteed vegetables into paper-thin wrappers, rolling them and then frying ’til golden.

“For 82-plus games, we’ll go as hard as we can until the 7th inning,” he says.

Owner and chef Alex Retodo garnishes his bacon cheeseburger lumpia dish at The Lumpia Company in Oakland, Calif., on Thursday, Feb. 8, 2024. This year will be the sixth season that the company, co-owned by local rapper E-40, have been serving their fried spring rolls to San Francisco Giants fans at Oracle Park. (Jane Tyska/Bay Area News Group)
Lumpia Company owner and chef Alex Retodo garnishes his bacon cheeseburger lumpia at the Oakland restaurant’s headquarters. This will be the sixth season that the company, co-owned by local rapper E-40, has served its fried spring rolls to San Francisco Giants fans at Oracle Park. (Jane Tyska/Bay Area News Group) 

Before that long season gets under way, we nabbed him for a chat about life behind home plate — in Section 116, Promenade Level, that is.

On his passion for sharing Filipino food >>>

It all started with his mom’s lumpia — the best, of course. When Retodo was a kid growing up in Hayward, she and relatives would make thousands of lumpia for the All Saints Church carnival. He’d sneak them to his buddies (“That’s how I made best friends back then”) and introduce them to friends who came over to his house (“That was the ice-breaker,” he says, their introduction to Filipino cuisine). A born marketer, he nevertheless earned a marketing degree from San Jose State and began encouraging restaurateurs to bring iconic dishes to a broader audience. “I always wanted to push Filipino food forward.” If others wouldn’t, well, he’d do it himself.

His love of the game >>>

Not surprisingly, the East Bay native started out rooting for the A’s. “I grew up a fanboy of No. 33, Jose Canseco!” But he also followed the Giants’ Kevin Mitchell and Will Clark and says he even tried to emulate Mitchell’s “graceful, left-handed swing” (as a right-hander). Now, he says, “I’ve grown into it. I love the Giants. They have the culture.”

On pitching to the Giants >>> 

Retodo launched his lumpia business at festivals, then sold at a seven-day-a-week pop-up. Through it all, he knew that baseball fans would respond in a big way to Filipino food, so he kept trying to sell the Giants on the concept. “Finally, the time came in 2019. ‘Are you ready to jump in?’ they asked. I said yes, I’ve been waiting for this moment half my life.”

Adobo seasoned chicken wings are served at The Lumpia Company in Oakland, Calif., on Thursday, Feb. 8, 2024. This year will be the sixth season that the company, co-owned by local rapper E-40 and Hayward native Alex Retodo, have been serving their fried spring rolls to San Francisco Giants fans at Oracle Park. (Jane Tyska/Bay Area News Group)
Adobo chicken wings are a favorite at The Lumpia Company stall at Oracle Park.  (Jane Tyska/Bay Area News Group) 

Two great American pastimes >>>

Major League Baseball and great food have a hand-in-glove relationship. “It’s a perfect fit,” Retodo explains. “In basketball, you can’t miss a minute. You don’t want to miss Steph Curry. Football is all about the tailgate.” Baseball, he says, lures people who love to watch the game … and talk … and eat.

What’s on the menu this season >>>

Look for the “classic hits” at the stand this season: Chicken Shanghai Lumpia and Mama’s Veggie Lumpia (made in a separate fryer), served with sweet chile sauce for dipping. Retodo says he may offer an occasional special, like the Bacon Cheeseburger Lumpia he created a few years ago or Pork Belly Chips.

The perfect lumpia companion >>>

The stand now offers Filipino-inspired beers on tap. The Ube Ale is brewed with the purple yams used frequently in Filipino foods. And the Calamansi Pilsner is a citrusy sip.

His inning-by-inning guide >>>



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