Ep. 31: The New Filipino Kitchen Authors Pt. 2 - Katrina and Kristina Villavicencio and Alexa Alfaro

Katrina & Kristina Villavicencio, Co-Founders of “Timpla DC”

Katrina & Kristina Villavicencio, Co-Founders of “Timpla DC”

Alexa Alfaro, Owner of “Meat on the Street” Filipino Food Truck

Alexa Alfaro, Owner of “Meat on the Street” Filipino Food Truck

This is the second installment in a special series of conversations with fellow authors of the recently published cookbook and anthology, "The New Filipino Kitchen" (available on Amazon) that features Filipino cooks, writers, and thinkers all across the globe.  We take a peek into how they view the world and their cuisine.

For this East Coast edition, we feature: 

  • Katrina and Kristina Villavicencio, co-creators of the Washington DC Supper Club Timpla along with their friends Aniceto and Paolo. Their simple vision of introducing modern Filipino cuisine to the city has grown to incorporate storytelling, design, and art to educate others about Filipino culture. Their combined experiences in food service (Kristina) and art (Katrina) make them a versatile team that is able to explore multiple facets of the Filipino culture.

  • Alexa Alfaro, an Alaska-born Milwaukeean who, after a 10-week trip to the Philippines, was inspired to open her city’s first Filipino Food Truck “Meat on the Street” with her younger brother in 2014. This involved dropping out of her Engineering degree but weeks from graduation. Since then, the pair have opened a brick-and-mortar slinging their famous BBQ sticks and pork adobo to the masses.

If I had to pick a single word for today’s show, it would be: Expectations.  Be it: 

  • Expectations around Filipino food (looks, tastes, methods, and costs).  

  • Expectations around our age and the need to balance respectful obedience and forging our own path.

  • Expectations around the immigrant experience and the constant theme of sacrifice.

  • Expectations around gender; something we don’t get to cover much on this show. I’m glad we talked about this topic in the wake of the #MeToo movement and the fortuity that a majority of the co-authors I’ve been touring with and are getting the much-deserved spotlight (seeing as immigrant women are the keepers of cuisine) are female.

Of note to me was how we can think about our relationships with women in and out of the kitchen and where we draw the line between demanding excellence at work and abuse.  


4:15 - How the Authors came to the Table // What “Filipina” meant to Them
15:30 - On Expectations of Career and the Immigrant Experience
32:00 - On Expectations of Gender and Age
* The need for more Female Leadership
* Demanding excellence vs. abuse // Becoming a “Bitch” and Filipino Machismo
* Balancing Respectful Obedience and Forging your own Path
45:45 - On Expectations of Filipino Food: Cost, Skin Color, Cooking Methods, Aesthetics
* Culture Killers - Unsupportive Communities and Yelp Reviews
54:00 - Approaches to Changing Minds: Fact vs. Emotion // “You were cheated out of your Culture”

Rapid Fire with Katrina, Kristina, and Alexa
Most Influential People
Alexa: Her Dad
Katrina: Each other (ie. Kristina)
Kristina: Tita Audette
Best Tools Ever Purchased:
Alexa: Her Food Truck
Katrina: Filipino Tattoos Ancient to Modern by Lane Wilcken + An Introduction to Baybayin by Kristian Kabuay
Kristina: The #filipinofoodmovement hashtag and the iPhone 5
3 Ingredients That Describe Them:
Alexa: Soy Sauce, Garlic, Vinegar
Katrina: Garlic, Onion, Ginger
Kristina: Tamarind, Patis (Fish Sauce), Bagoong (Shrimp Paste)
Resources for the Common Person:
Alexa: The New Filipino Kitchen
Katrina: Mind of a Chef Season 1 with David Chang
Kristina: Cooked with Michael Pollan (Documentary)
If Their Life Stories was Written in One Sentence
Alexa: “Always know where you came from, but never underestimate where you can go"
Katrina: “Find your people, work together to follow your passion and the world will open up" 
Kristina: “At these dinners, we hope that our guests who walked in as complete strangers will feel like they've become our Kapamilya”

People & Foods Referenced:
Amusing Maria - Blog by fellow New Filipino Kitchen Author Vanessa Lorenzo
Baybayin - Ancient script used by indigenous Filipinos
Sinigang - Filipino soup with a souring agent, usually tamarind
Amy Besa - Owner of the Purple Yam Restaurants in New York and Manila
Nicole Ponseca - Owner of the Maharlika and Jeepney Restaurants
Umay - Tagalog word to describe the sensation of getting too much of a single flavor that your tongue gets bored/tired
Mang Tomas - Filipino Pork Liver Sauce
Chicharron - Fried Pork Skin
Ube - Purple Yam
Atchara - Sweet Filipino Pickles usually made with carrots and papaya
”Best Traditional Filipino Foods to Order at a Restaurant” by Paolo Espanola on Thrillist

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Katrina/Kristina: TimplaDC.com (subscribe to their newsletter!)
Alexa: Meat on the Street