A #FilipinoAmerican story as told by award-winning restaurateur, @nicoleponseca. Read her full story below:
"I never planned to be a restaurateur.
I arrived in New York City with a one-way ticket, $75, no job, no place to live, no family, and no friends. Top advertising agency Saatchi & Saatchi hired me on my fourteenth day. It was a fabulous time in Manhattan, a glittering nightlife with the best bars and restaurants in the world. At the agency, colleagues would ask me for Thai restaurant recommendations. I thought it was because Thai cuisine was gaining popularity, but it finally dawned on me that they thought I was Thai! As an ad exec, I understood this was about image. With so little representation in the mainstream, Filipino image was practically non-existent. This was my “a-ha moment.”
My solution was to represent Filipino through food, using all I knew about products, demographics, and marketing. I hired myself to treat Filipino as a brand. After 12 years of being an ad-exec-by-day and dishwasher-hostess-bartender-server-manager-by-night, I tested the waters with Filipino weekend brunches. My team and I started what is now called a pop-up. Dead weekends turned into a two-hour wait on the street—which, today, has grown into managing two-month reservations!
@maharlikanyc and @jeepneynyc grabbed the baton extended from the Filipino restaurants that came before us. Our mission is to foster an environment and a Filipino identity that is nourishing, irresistible, and celebratory. These restaurants are built for us to be our authentic selves while being competitive with the best cuisines in the world.
As a disruptor, I make decisions that people haven't had to make before, but I think those decisions have succeeded in getting Filipino food a seat at the culinary table just like Mexican, Japanese, Chinese, and Israeli cuisine. Through it all, I’ve discovered my strength, learned to stay rooted in who I am, and chosen kindness and perseverance when things get tough. Everything I do is my love letter to Filipinos and my invitation to non-Filipinos to join our party." #FAHM2017 #FAHM