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PAMANGAN! pop-ups bring innovative Filipino cuisine to Boston

"We want to help people look at [food] as a way to slow down."

Before Ellie Tiglao started her Filipino pop-upcuisineventure, PAMANGAN!, she worked in neuroscience.

“It wasn’t for me for many reasons,” she says. “But I love science and the processes of discovering and exploration and innovation around it.”

The 30-year-old California native found a similar mindset in the culinary world. “A lot of it is unexpected [and] about wanting to push the boundaries and bring more knowledge,” she adds. Tiglao started PAMANGAN! (meaning “something to eat”) with her brother, R.J., forming the kitchen duo Kulinarya in 2014 as means to test the Boston area market with intimate pop-up dinners and industry nights at venues like Fuel America and Journeyman.

Now living in the Cambridge, Tiglao is pursuing consistent efforts for PAMANGAN! including recurring monthly events at Aurum in Jamaica Plain and Ames Street Deli in Kendall Square after finding success from her guests and hospitality colleagues thanks to her pop-up events. R.J., a former chef, lives full-time in San Francisco and works in IT, but occasionally returns for the events, working in the kitchen alongside his sister.

“We’re pushing to open a restaurant,” explains Tiglao. “The neighborhoods are up in the air, but we’re looking at Cambridge. One of the reasons people come [to our events] is because we have a strong cocktail program. The concept [for the restaurant] would be more casual, with tapas and drinks.”

PAMANGAN! has two seatings at Aurum on Feb. 29 with a multi-course tasting menu ofLechon, a roasted pork belly with a persimmon and walnut barley salad, and a deconstructed Halo-Halo, a popular Filipino dessert that includes a rich ten-egg flan and housemade ube ice cream. Each event features the Tiglao siblings' takes onFilipino cuisine inspired by their upbringing (their father was a chef, their grandfather a baker), but the a focus on education and community transcends the menu.

“We’re trying to make the food accessible so I’m looking at how both my family and people of that region [of Pampanga, Philippines’ culinary capital] cook,” she says. “We’re trying to take that all into consideration while also repping the flavors in a way that feels accurate so people who come to the events can experience nostalgia.”

Tiglao adds that her staff is paid a “living wage,” and she’s working to build strong relationships with local farmers who supply each event. She says the goal of PAMANGAN! includes fostering connectivity of food, from the farms who grow the ingredients to the waitstaff who serve each plate. Most dinners also feature communal seating and service, so guests can converse over what’s on the table and experience the meal together.

She says, “I’ve found in Boston, we approach food in a way where we see it as fuel. We want to help people look at it as a way to slow down and appreciate the people that are sitting across from them as much as they appreciate the food that’s on the table.”

If you go:

MARIMLA AT MAPALI!
Monday, Feb. 29, 6 P.M. & 9 P.M.
Aurum Pies, 377 Centre St, Jamaica Plain
$60 for dinner + cocktail, bit.ly/eatfilipinofood

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