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Watch: Why This Chef Left a Career in Neuroscience to Serve Filipino Food

Ellie Tiglao uses Tanam, her series of pop-up dinners to reframe how Boston understands Filipino food

Since 2014, chef Ellie Tiglao has hosted over 100 pop-up dinners around the greater Boston area. Tiglao landed in Boston to pursue a career in neuroscience, but quickly realized that unlike her hometown in northern California — the Filipino community in her adopted area was nearly nonexistent. The pop-up events gave Tiglao a chance to reconnect with her roots and educate the Boston community on Filipino food.

Eventually Tiglao dubbed the series Tanam — meaning cultivation or planting in her Philippine dialect — a reference to her family’s roots as farmers.

What particularly interested me about her events is an emphasis on “narrative cuisine,” where stories are told and shared over a meal. Tiglao’s approach to understanding Filipino food is rooted in research and history, which I find fits fit perfectly in Boston.

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