“COULD IT BE THAT FILIPINO FOOD, THE UNDERDOG OF ASIAN CUISINES, IS HAVING ITS MOMENT AT LAST?”
– Ligaya Mishan
The New York Times
Nicole Ponseca remembers being embarrassed, as a child, when her father ate with his hand. “So I would pray, ‘Please, Dad, if you’re going to eat with your hands, can you order a pizza?’ Because then at least it would be normal,” she said.
As a Filipino American, Ponseca grew up in schools where “everyone’s exchanging ham sandwiches and Cheetos and Lunchables and you hear the slow pop of the Tupperware and then the smell of adobo and it’s a little embarrassing.”
But when Ponseca decided to start a Filipino restaurant, the aspects of Filipino cuisine that used to embarrass her became her inspiration. When Hurricane Sandy hit, the crowds dwindled. Ponseca began looking for a way to bring people back to the restaurant and thought of the way her father used to eat with his hands. “Doing Kamayan was a way we could get bodies in here,” she said. “And we would teach people the technique of eating with your hands and it blew up.”
Maker’s Lane is a documentary series by APA filmmaker Sahra Vang Nguyen about creative entrepreneurs in New York City. In its first season, Maker’s Lane highlighted Asian Pacific American trailblazers during Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. Now in its second season, Maker’s Lane widens its lens to explore the process of creativity amongst a diverse set of creative innovators.