Can you please introduce yourself?
My name is Kathy Vega Hardy and I’m the chef and owner of A Taste of the Philippines.
How long have you and your family lived in the Chicago area?
I have just moved here over five years ago.
How has being a part of the AAPI community impacted your career as a restaurateur?
It has impacted me quite a bit. I started my business in Denver, Colorado almost 11 years ago. Being a Filipino food truck out there, I thought I was the only Filipino because I never saw any Filipinos around me. Once I opened the food truck, they all came out of the woodwork and made me feel like I am building that community. My mission to open up the business is to introduce Filipino culture through food to the masses. As someone who was born and raised in the Philippines, it’s been such a rewarding experience to be able to share my heritage and culture.
How do you envision your relationship with customers, both those who are a part of the AAPI community and those who are not?
I love the relationships I have with my customers. Just through social media and in-person, I love building a community, whether they are Filipino or AAPI or anyone– I love the interaction with them and it’s very important to me.
What are some future goals you wish to achieve for your restaurant?
Definitely to grow– I went from a food truck in Denver, selling, moving to Chicago, to being a Farmer’s Market vendor, and had my eyesights in opening up here, all in 2 years. Now I’m looking for brick and mortar. I am really happy here with catering and meeting people!
What is your restaurant’s signature dish?
The chicken adobo: it’s the unofficial dish of the Philippines. It’s chicken simmered in soy sauce with vinegar, garlic, bay leaves, and served over rice. We are also known for the lumpias, a lot of people would call me Lumpa Lady!
What dish would you recommend to new customers
I would recommend the lumpia, adobo, the Cebu Lechon, which is roasted pork belly garnished with salt, pepper, lemon grass, ginger, and fresh garlic, and we serve it over garlic rice. We also have all kinds of Ube desserts: Ube cheesecake bites, Ube waffles, and our number one seller– the Ube donuts.