The meat is succulent, the skin crispy, and the taste is one of a kind. What makes all of these possible? “We do a Cebu-style lechon,” owner Victor Ricolcol explains. “We marinate the pig, and we put herbs and spices in its stomach.” In addition, the 40-pound and two-month-old pig is fresh (read: not frozen) from an abattoir in Chicago.
Why the name Adeline’s ? “It is my mother-in-law’s name,” he replies. Not only did he think it was a beautiful name, but he also had a business strategy. In the good old days of the phone book, it did not hurt to have a name beginning with the letter A. “In that way,” he adds, “Adeline’s was always on top of the listing.” Simple but effective.
Ricolcol’s business acumen can be traced to his days in Manila, where he enjoyed playing basketball. Aside from learning to achieve endurance and develop concentration and self-discipline, he learned to be a good team player in every endeavor that he undertook. The world is a challenge—a big basketball court to manage. The Letran College commerce graduate’s food is delectable, and his public-relations skills are nonesuch, making him an icon in Chicagoland’s Filipino community.
Adeline’s started as a food store. Then, it became restaurant, serving home-health agencies that used to be in the area. Some of them operated 24/7, which kept Adeline’s busy. When those businesses left, Ricolcol concentrated on catering.
The beauty of catering is it gives Ricolcol plenty of downtime. He can relax, take orders as they come, and make ample preparations. People picking up orders come and go quickly.
Adeline’s is very much in demand, especially in events. “There is TLC (tender loving care),” Almira Astudillo Gilles, Ph.D., a writer and community leader,” from the time you order up to the time the food is delivered, making everything special. I love his lechon and pork-belly adobo!”
Adeline’s still occupies a restaurant space, and Ricolcol has managed to make the business grow by using technology. Customers call in or text their orders, and Adeline’s has social-media presence, including a website and a Facebook page. Ricolcol cooks and manages the business solo, except on weekends when he has extra help. It’s a laborious job; so he puts a limit of 8 to 10 lechons a day to maintain quality.
In the beginning, Ricolcol did not even know how to cook. His cooks had a high turnover at one time, so he had no choice but to learnddddd. He observed others cooking, consulted cookbooks and Internet recipes, and used a trial-and-error method. He must have learned so well that today he cooks effortlessly and--with a smile!
Ricolcol can cook regional variations, depending on customers’ wishes. For example, he can cook pinakbet (vegetable dish) the Ilocano way (bagoong or anchovies) or the Tagalog way (shrimp paste.). His dinuguan (pork-blood stew) can either be saucy (Tagalog) or dry (Ilocano). His pansit (noodle dish) can be made to order, for example, without salt or MSG (monosodium glutamate).
Tall and lean, Victor Ricolcol still has the aura of an ebullient basketball player. When he was playing basketball in his youth, little did he know that he would someday be a caterer, making a lechon that would be the centerpiece of any feast. But somehow his life became more exciting, if not better, than a basketball game. “I dribbled a lot before I got to this point. But I shot the ball, didn’t I?”
4016 Main Street
Skokie, IL 60076
landline: (847) 568-1190
cell : (847) 624-4346
Check out Adeline's Catering's Pork Belly Adobo
Rey E. de la Cruz, Ed.D., writes from Chicagoland when he is not loving the arts and traveling. He is the author of the children’s book, Ballesteros on My Mind: My Hometown in the Philippines, which also has Ilocano, Spanish, and Tagalog versions.
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