“COULD IT BE THAT FILIPINO FOOD, THE UNDERDOG OF ASIAN CUISINES, IS HAVING ITS MOMENT AT LAST?”

– Ligaya Mishan
The New York Times

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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.”

Maharlika         Jeepney

 

“There’s a word called hiya, which means shame. … They think they’re not going to like dinuguan, which is a pork blood stew. But why have hiya when the French have boudin noir and the Spanish have morcilla? It is because when you’re colonized over so many years, you don’t value your own culture, even though we have so much pride.”

–Nicole Ponseca
Public Radio International

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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.

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“We knew we had the opportunity to introduce the ingredients to a new audience but at the same time wanted to nod to our Kababayans. For our Bloody Marys, celery salt and Worcestershire are replaced with patis and maggi. This is the basis for the brunch menu: how can we ‘flip’ out classic brunch staples and make them 100% Filipino?”

—Nicole Ponseca
Serious Eats

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“MONEY CAN COME AND GO. NOTHING CAN TAKE AWAY HARD WORK AND NOTHING CAN TAKE AWAY THE EDUCATION AND THE EXPERIENCE YOU EARNED FROM THAT HARD WORK.”

—Nicole Ponseca

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