Nicole Ponseca is the restaurateur and co-owner of the Filipino restaurants Maharlika and Jeepney in the East Village in NYC as well as the author of the 2019 James Beard Award Finalist cookbook, I Am A Filipino. A former advertising executive turned restaurateur, Nicole's coming-of-age story is familiar perhaps to other Filipino-Americans having been born to a military dad and nurse mom.
Moving to New York with $75 to her name and to advance her career in advertising, she soon realized her calling to represent her Filipino heritage and culture. While working in advertising, she moonlighted as a dishwasher, busser, runner, and server.
A childhood memory of shame in watching her father eat with his bare hands would only later become the saving grace for her restaurant Jeepney which opened during Hurricane Sandy. This episode delves into the origin stories of both restaurants as well as tackling self-identity in relation to restaurant entrepreneurship.