Pop-up restaurant connects family and community

“Our heart is here. We’re not going anywhere.” – Kate Velasco

Kate and Ted Velasco talk with customers while preparing meals at their pop-up lunch at the Cordova Center on Saturday, April 28, 2018.

To Kate and Ted Velasco, food is family.

It goes beyond nutritional value.

It is rooted in tradition and carried through culture.

“I see (fulfillment) with Ted’s mom and how she is with her sons … or anybody,” said Kate Velasco of her mother-in-law. “For her, the reward she receives from … creating a dish that people love and that her children love. She’ll sit, and she won’t even have a dish in front of her.”

“She’ll just keep asking you, ‘How was it?’,” Ted Velasco interjected, prompting them both to laugh.

Kate and Ted created Fork & Spoon, a pop-up restaurant that sells meals one to two times a month around Cordova.

Advertisement

Their business began in December with the idea to operate a food truck, but it proved to be too costly.

Kate was working full-time at Alaska Airlines while Ted stayed home to raise their daughter Eirene, now 18 months old. The two wanted to spend more time together as a family, so began a journey to create the Filipino-infused dishes.

Their first meal, held on March 30, featured 100 plates for sale. The meal included fried chicken and pork adobo, garlic fried rice, pancit (noodle), lumpia and a banana and jackfruit lumpia for dessert.

They sold out two days before the event.

“There’s a huge Filipino population here now; not having any Filipino establishments is kind of crazy to us in a lot of aspects,” Kate said. “There’s so much good Filipino food that the rest of the population in Cordova doesn’t know about.”

It was an opportunity to try something new for their family and their community.

“I’m going through like what my mom used to cook a lot when I was younger,” Ted said, of the menu featuring Filipino dishes with subtle American twists. “(Some things) you just leave it as it is because it’s just that good.”

Ted still remembers devouring meals his mom would make for him and his friends.

Ted’s mom offered support and encouragement for their first pop up meal.

“She was my backup coach,” Ted said.  “And taste tester,” added Kate.

The two weaved their way around the kitchen they rented at the Cordova Center on Saturday, April 28, for their third pop up meal.

For every meal, they must have a permit with a pre-approved menu. Saturday’s $10-meal featured rice bowls with marinated chicken or pork, garlic fried rice and topped with pickled vegetables, with the option to add an egg for $2 more.

Kate and Ted have also created their own version of banana ketchup, a condiment created in the Philippines during World War II when there was a shortage of tomatoes for a tomato-based ketchup.

“Ted’s an amazing cook and is really passionate about it when he … gets into it and just … loves it,” Kate said.

“I never thought I’d be cooking…but it so far has been fun,” he said.

Around noon, the lunch rush struck the small kitchen, but Kate and Ted took it in stride. Many of the people ordering had heard about the pop-up meal by word-of-mouth and through Facebook.

“It’s good for the town to have other things than burgers and fries,” customer Doug Johnson said. “There’s just not that many options here, so it’s really nice to have something else.”

“I’d like them to do it more often,” Zak Jacobs added.

Kate and Ted are exploring a catering permit after receiving questions about it.

“We are invested in our community,” Kate said. “And so even trying this out, it’s not with the thought in mind like ‘Oh, we’re gonna back out’.”

Kate began working part time as a dental assistant, which will allow her more time to work on the pop-up restaurant, while Ted continues to work side jobs along with cooking.

“We’re just trying to earn it,” Kate said acknowledging that it’s been hectic and can be difficult at times.

“It just makes you feel good to see people enjoy what you’re cooking,” said Ted.

The origin of Fork & Spoon

The Fork & Spoon logo incorporates an outline of Mt. Eyak, placed inside the sun from the Philippines national flag.

“Traditionally, you don’t need a knife in Filipino food,” Kate Velasco said. “If you like watch a Filipino eat, they’re either gonna eat with their hands or with a fork and spoon,” said Ted Velasco.

Advertisement