May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage month, and Splendid Spoon would simply not exist without our Founder & co-CEO Nicole’s love of her father’s native Filipino food.
“I am mixed race - my mom is white (English, Scottish descent) and my dad is Filipino (he became a US citizen in 1976). So, growing up I always found food to be one of those great opportunities for cultures to collide in a really joyful way. “
The name Splendid Spoon itself is an homage to her Filipino roots.
“When serving a family meal there were a few critical elements that helped us to bring FIlipino traditions to the table, regardless of what we were eating – sabao (soup or extra sauce) and a spoon at each table setting. Ideally there was also rice at the table as well, but it was really the sabao and the spoon that helped make any meal feel a bit more Pinoy-friendly. This is because in Filipino culture we like to balance our flavors with each bite - something a little starchy, something a little tart or pickled and something salty and savory.
We use our fork or knife to pull the different morsels together onto the spoon, and masarap (delicious!) - the perfectly balanced bite. A splendid spoon to satisfy and nourish a hungry belly. “
As for the Filipino dish she loves whipping up? Her grandmother’s monggo.
“These are mung beans stewed together with a leafy green, bitter melon, and if you like - some crispy ground chicharron (pork rinds) on top. (I like Tito Al’s vinegar version.) I treasure the memories that Filipino flavors conjure, but so many of them have pork which challenges my commitment to a more plant-forward lifestyle. I am reluctant to let the original flavor memory morph into something else. With monggo the beans and the bitter melon are the real stars. So with or without those pork rinds, it still reminds me of Grandma.
The finished dish is like a super hearty lentil soup and is perfect as a sabao alongside rice and other stewed vegetables or grilled proteins – it will certainly ensure that every spoonful is absolutely splendid.”
-Nicole Centeno, Founder & co-CEO