Fry up a Filipino dish with sauce from a home-based chef in the April edition.
Welcome back to The Sunday Roast! It’s (again) been a long month with highs and lows, but I’m still working to grow this newsletter, and I’ve now reached125 subscribers! So, please don’t forget to fill out this survey for audience feedback. I need more input on how I can evolve The Sunday Roast, so I extended the deadline until May 1. There’s a little incentive for you to take the 6 to 10-minute survey as well; each person will be entered to win a $20 gift card to Compass Coffee (or we will coordinate another business if you’re not located in D.C.)
This month: After reflecting on the horrific rise of violence and discrimination against AAPI people in the U.S., I set out to consciously support AAPI-owned businesses more frequently. And since I spend a lot of time on Instagram, I found influencers featuring those local eateries, home-based businesses and ones out in the suburbs. The person behind of my favorite accounts, titled Ninja Grubs, actually doubles as an uber talented home-based chef as well. I reached out to Maria and she was happy to talk about one of the prime products on her menu: lumpia.
Maria wears many (chef) hats as the face behind both the iconic D.C. food blog Ninja Grubs and her home-based catering business specializing in Filipino food, Dine with Claudine. After training as a chef at the prestigious Culinary Institute of America, Maria first started Ninja Foods to document all the food that she ate and made during her time there. She kept growing the account as she’s spent the last seven years in the food industry, and she’s now got over 2,700 followers watching her videos and following her DMV restaurant recommendations! Maria says she always loved taking pictures so se was glad that people liked to follow her journey throughout her career.
You may be wondering why her business, then, carries a different name. Maria’s middle name is Claudine, and only her family calls her by that name, so to make her business more intimate, she named it Dine with Claudine. Maria says she wants her customers to have a dining experience like they are a part of her family. She has been catering with her business here and there for a couple years, making wedding cakes, cupcakes and Filipino food for friends and family — and we’ll dive more into her Filipino heritage with the recipe story below.
But once the pandemic hit, Maria had to figure out how to adjust and decided to start selling her hit food from her home. She started a pick-up service selling frozen Filipino foods, sauces, baked goods and more, which she says she’s been doing for the majority of her time. Her biggest priority is to keep socially distanced and have everyone stay healthy while still providing that part-of-the-family experience. Maria says she had become more aware of her surroundings and become even more of a “clean freak” as a result of the pandemic. As a private chef, she’s always looking for more ways to improve her cooking, but not having access to a big industrial kitchen does present challenges when it comes to catering for bigger events. Once the season gets warm and things reopen a bit more, she’ll have more events for sure.
Discover her business’s Instagram.
Discover her food blog.
The story behind her recipe.
Maria grew up eating Filipino food. Plus, different Asian cuisines are her favorite to eat and make as a chef.
As a result, she decided to offer Filipino food on her menu at Dine with Claudine. Maria says she wants more people to know the not only the different flavors that Filipino cuisine has to offer, but also the culture, the way they eat and the certain practices revolving around food. She can share the knowledge of Filipino cuisine and culture through her curated menu at her company.
Growing up, her family would make a traditional Filipino egg roll, that typically comes filled with a ground pork mixture or matchbox vegetables, for nearly any family gathering or holiday.
Now, this roll — called lumpia — is one of the main products Maria offers for her pick-up service since, she says, she loves to make and eat them. She, of course, offers the pork and veggie flavors, and she commented that the pork ones are “a classic and pork in general is a big thing with Filipinos. We love pork.” The vegetable lumpia are also a traditional recipe that’s simple but always delicious.
As an example of her creativity, Maria also developed a lime chicken lumpia that’s a play on a chicken dish her boyfriend’s family.
The creative flavor is a simple braised chicken that’s packed with a ton of lime juice. In addition to her frozen lumpia, ready for frying, Maria sells jarred garlic chili vinegar to dip your lumpia in. The sauce is packed with onions and vinegar flavor, and pairs especially well with the pork since it cuts through the fat.
Maria does offer other options on her menu, including gorgeous so-called grazing boxes.
She says she used to be in charge of the charcuterie boards while working in catering, so she’s always loved making pretty-looking food. She’s also able to express her creative side through the grazing boxes on her menu, which are also easy to share with friends and family, playing into her mission to make you feel like part of the family.
If you’re looking for something sweet to round off your meal filled with lumpia, Maria also offers unique Filipino cuisine-inspired baked goods. So far, she’s sold pandan mochi crinkle cookies and pandan tres leches cake,
both made with an extract from the leaf of a tropical plant. She says her most popular item has to be the crinkle cookies after she made it as part of the variety cookie special during the holidays. Maria used to only make dessert when baking at home for family and friends, so she’s glad she gets to showcase a different set of skills through her baked good offerings at Dine with Claudine.
As an AAPI business owner, Maria has participated in fundraising for the Stop AAPI Hate organization in the last few months through a raised awareness of discrimination Asian-Americans face.
She said she saw a bit of an impact from people from all over the DMV making an effort to support AAPI-owned businesses when selling her baked goods during Bakers Against Racism nationwide bake sale, “In Adversity We Bloom.” Then, Kam and 46, a DMV-based caterer and food truck offering Hawaii and Filipino fare, asked to collaborate with Maria’s business on a pop-up with their truck. Maria is truly a rising star and you 100% should support her business. If you end up getting supplies to make her lumpia, then definitely order her garlic chili vinegar for a dipping sauce option — also great for making a vinegar-based coleslaw!