Guest List for a Kamayan Dinner



Kamayan Dinner– Filipino style eating using bare hands instead of utensils.

I am on a serious Filipino food momentum these days. [Our family Thanksgiving lunch definitely helped satisfy my craving issues]. Part of this momentum is likely triggered by all these exciting articles on popular Filipino food trends, up and coming chefs, etc. I also noticed more and more kamayan style dinners popping up all over LA which had me thinking.  If I had the chance to host a dinner with five guests, who would I invite?

Over the years, I have paid close attention to the increase of Filipinos featured in the news, television shows, pop culture references, social media and more. Growing up in the 1980’s and 90’s, let me just say, it was rare for me to see Filipinos on any kinds of television shows, on the radio, in magazines and so forth. Every time I would see someone on TV or in a magazine that even remotely looked Filipino I would get so excited. Nowadays, it seems it is slightly more common and generations younger than me might even grow up thinking Filipinos on TV and featured in current events is just the norm. However, seeing Filipinos in today’s pop culture still intrigues me.

My five dinner guests for my ‘dream’ kamayan dinner would include fellow Filipinos who fascinate me and also make me so proud of the contributions being made to current events, art, sports and culture.

Addison Russell- Chicago Cubs Shortstop

AZ Fall League: Mesa v Surprise
photo: CBS sports

While watching a recent Chicago Cubs playoff game, Addison Russell came up to bat. Immediately I thought, “Hold up, is this dude Filipino?” With technology so accessible, I did a quick Google search and found out that Addison Russell was in fact Filipino. Oh hello! How proud was I that a Filipino was playing on a MLB team! And even more so, the Cubs?! My Lolo Ben’s team?!

Dinner question: What’s it like to hit a grand slam in a World Series game?

Monique L’hullier- Fashion Designer

photo: google images

By now, most people (especially women) know of Monique L’huiller’s contributions to the fashion world. Her gowns are so beautiful and if I could only one day afford one of her dresses, I would hand over my credit card right away. Years ago, my dear friend bought a Monique L’huiller gown for her wedding and I vividly remember her describing her gown as ‘butter on her skin.’ As I remember, she even wanted to sleep in her wedding gown the night of her wedding because she loved her dress so much. How exicting that a Filipina is out there making brides dreams come true?

Dinner question: How does the Philippines inspire your design? AND. Can you please give me the inside scoop on the next sample sale? Is there any way I can avoid the 3am line of vicious brides boxing out each other for one of your heavily discounted gowns?

Margarita Manzke- Chef


Republique is my favorite restaurant in LA because it combines my two loves: architecture and food. The architecture/ambiance is amazing. Most importantly the food is incredible. I love brunch and Republique has one of (if not the best) brunch in all of LA. When I found out that Margarita Manzke was behind the ultimate pastries and breads, I lost my mind. A Filipina made these croissants? Yes, there are many up and coming Fiipino chefs but the idea that a fellow Filipina is perfecting a brunch menu and creating dishes that combine French and Filipino flavors just gets my heart to soar.

Dinner question: What’s your favorite butter and why?

Lyle Beniga-Dancer


Years ago, I was watching Justin Timberlake perform Suit & Tie and other songs on Jimmy Fallon (I heart Justin Timberlake). I love the way Timberlake dances and I love to watch his dancers as well. On this episode, I noticed this really handsome guy with great style and amazing dance moves behind J.T. Immediately I thought, “Hold up, is this dude Filipino?” I did some serious searching of the internet and finally found information about Lyle Beniga. I then proceeded to watch all is videos and basically my heart melted. My inner high school version of me still gets giddy when watching great dancing. Lyle Beniga can dance!

Dinner question (and request): Do you have a happy dance when you have a great meal? Can you please show us all that happy dance?

Nico Santos- Actor on Superstore (NBC)


On my current Hulu rotation/playlist is the show Superstore on NBC. Nico Santos plays Mateo- a sassy, sometime lazy but clever-ish employee. A sub-plot on the recent “Olympics” episode showed Mateo supporting team Philippines. The episode included physical highlights of the Philippines flag, tagalog language and other Filipino cultural references. I couldn’t believe it. A prime time show including my culture? A scene in tagalog that wasn’t some drama on TFC? Nico Santos plays such a great character on the show and every week, I’m excited to see a Filipino face on such a funny show.

Dinner question: What’s your thoughts on Filipino writers in television and getting our story/experience out in prime time?

Over tasty food, my dream kamayan dinner highlights the best part of Filipino meals- simple sharing and laughing together like family. No utensils.

2 thoughts on “Guest List for a Kamayan Dinner”

  1. When you can inspire a person to learn more about a subject because of something you wrote- that, my friend, is a true accomplishment. Nicely done! Now I’m off to learn more about the Filipino culture!


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