Purple Yams, Turned Purple Jam, Turned Dessert Phenomenon!

By John Grossi



If you haven’t tried Ube (pronounced ooh-beh or ooh-bae depending on who you ask) yet, consider this your grand opportunity to expand the palate while learning a ton about Filipino culture… it’s an invite to the next Ube Festival or pop-up in Long Beach!

Ube, a purple yam grown in the Philippines, has for generations featured in many of its traditional desserts. In our present day, thanks largely to social media, ube desserts have “gone viral” within the Filipino foodie community, as bakers concoct their own spins on the spectacular purple treats and craft amazing Filipino jam varieties.

James Oreste started “Long Beach Ube Fest” in October 2021, hoping it would become an annual event showcasing Filipino culture to the rest of Long Beach. Following the first fest, however, he received such a positive response that he was persuaded to throw another one just 2 months later. Then he staged another… and another… until now, just a year later… Oreste is throwing multiple pop-ups each month under his exploding “Long Beach Ube Fest” brand. The events, always in and around Long Beach, simultaneously support Filipino-owned small businesses while wowing foodies from all cultures and nationalities with this trending treat.

“If you want to try anything ube on a different scale and level than you’ve ever seen before, then we’re the place to be,” says Oreste. “That’s not just speaking Southern California. I can attest that nationally, we have the finest and most complex ube desserts and treats out there right now.”

Whether you’re an ube fanatic or looking to explore this flavor for the first time, the depth and talent from the local bakers make attendance well worth your time.

Yet, as glad as he is to share the great taste of ube, Oreste is equally motivated by his desire to promote Filipino culture in Long Beach.


Giving Filipinos a Space to Create

“We have 21,000 Filipinos in Long Beach alone. There needs to be space for Filipinos and their businesses, comfortable places to dine out, feel that they belong, and sense a progression of our culture here in America,” says Oreste.

“With Long Beach being the International City, we’re the perfect place to launch and explore that idea of Filipinos at large being involved in society and having people be excited about Filipino events, shops, and culture. We’re creating a platform to showcase Filipinos and we urge this city and its residents to acknowledge the Filipino presence here and appreciate our contributions.”

October is Filipino American History month. A year after his inaugural Ube Fest event, Oreste has a massive slate of activities, pop-ups, and some big stuff planned for the month starting with October 1st: UbeFest at GreyLB and October 3rd: Long Beach UbeFest Anniversary (FREE UBE).


He encourages everyone in Long Beach to attend one of his events for the opportunity to learn a lot about Filipino culture, experience a variety of food and desserts, and of course, try some top notch ube.

Follow Long Beach Ube Fest on Instagram @lb_ubefest to learn more about how and when to attend these events!