Since I could remember, food has always been a huge part of my life. My mother immigrated from the Philippines to Alaska, where she would raise us with Filipino values, food, and culture. When I was a little girl I could remember sitting in the corner watching her every move in the kitchen, the way she used a knife to tasting every step along the way. And seeing her excitement as she told us to, “taste this.”
The food I grew up eating was different then others around me, it was new, unknown, but it was delicious and I felt so lucky to have it everyday. Growing up in a family of Filipinos, I learned that food connected us in everything we do. It was how we connected in the community. To connect with each other because we know in good conversation, there must be food.
In my culture, we want you to eat. We insist it and you must. We ask, “have you eaten?” or “are you hungry?” instead of “how are you doing? or “how is your day?” It was a way to show people to feel welcome, to feel at home. To show others you cared, but entering any Filipino home, show up hungry, as denying food is not allowed. Nor should you eat the last item on the plate until you offer it to everyone else first.
The sense of warmth, of being at home in a stranger’s house, and experiencing hospitality the way it’s meant to be has come from my Filipino culture. My whole life, I feel like I’ve always been taught to make sure everyone was happy, that they had everything they needed, and to ask if they wanted more to eat.
As a Chef, I’ve always imagined welcoming people with my food. To give them an experience of what it would be like to step into my home. To ensure they leave with their full happy bellies and with memories they would always look back on, as I believe the service of any meal can make a huge difference. But I’ve always wanted these experiences to be natural, to be genuine, and simple.
Simple, like my food. I’ve always been a huge believer in paying attention to where our food comes from. To be sustainable in all ways possibly. I enjoy letting the ingredient speak for themselves, that less is more, and to make sure everything has balance. To keep the integrity of the ingredient being used. But most importantly, respect the product, respect the history.