Chef Yana Gilbuena of The SALO Project set out from her home and life in Brooklyn, New York this February to begin an adventure that will take her and her camerawoman Cassandra Sicre just over a year to complete. The goal, as they discover and ride between US cities, moving every week, is to introduce and celebrate traditional Filipino recipes – a cuisine Yana feels is much underrepresented and undervalued in the US. With some of the proceeds going to charity, Yana hopes that the SALO experience – one of shared food – will create community and gain exposure for Filipino cuisine and chefs.
Yana will serve all of her roving pop-up feasts Kamayan style, i.e. during this 50 state, 50 feasts tour, Feasters (diners) will eat with their hands around a shared banana-leaf-lined table. It’s an incredibly social and adventurous form of dining cum cultural learning session.
We had the chance to catch up with Yana as she embarks on the nation’s capitol this Sunday for the sixth stop of her tour and to learn about life on the road, the character and generosity of the cities she’s been to, and her overall experiences.
Q: What have been the most incredible reoccurring parts of your journey thus far? Or if they are all unique – what makes them different?
I’d say they are all unique. The challenges that I face are recurring, but the experiences are all different. I never know what people I will meet, what I will learn, the sights I will see. Even the opportunity to discover a city in the way perhaps a local hasn’t been able to – that’s special.
Q: What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned since beginning the project?
I think the most value lesson I’ve learned since beginning this project is the power of positivity, the genius of flexibility and the necessity of organization.
Q: Are you most looking forward to a particular thing/person/place?
I’m looking forward to different meats and produce endemic to specifics states. I’m excited to meet people who are passionate about their lives as much as I am. I always believe in the law of attraction. I am so stoked to explore and bring Filipino food to Alaska, Maine, Wyoming, the Dakotas and Mississippi. I don’t know anyone there and I love a challenge; where to sleep, where to shop, how to get people excited about attending, etc.
Q: What has been the overall reaction to Filipino food and the culture of eating Kamayan style (eating with your hands)?
They love it! I think I’ve only encountered about 2 people who didn’t like it.
Q: What have you viewed of the ‘sharing economy’ since your 1st stop in Key West?
The citizens and the cities in general have been extremely gracious in hosting myself and my crew. Sometimes friends help us, friends of friends, or those that become friends over the course of a shared meal. Community and cultural centers, churches, people’s homes – they have all opened up to accept me and this project. I’m very grateful.
Rhode Island//Providence // 5/25/2014 Massachusetts// Boston// 6/1/2014Maine// TBA // 6/8/2014 New Hampshire// TBA // 6/15/2014
Vermont// Burlington// 6/22/2014 Ohio// Kent // 6/29/2014Michigan// Detroit// 7/6/2014 Illinois// Chicago // 7/13/2014
Wisconsin// Madison // 7/20/2014 Minnesota // Minneapolis// 7/27/2014North Dakota// TBA // 8/3/2014 Montana// Helena //8/10/2014
Washington// Seattle // 8/17/2014 Alaska// Anchorage // 8/24/2014 Oregon // Portland // 8/31/2014 Idaho// Boise // 9/21/2014
Wyoming// Jackson Hole// 9/28/2014 South Dakota// Sioux Falls // 10/5/2014 Nebraska// Omaha// 10/12/2014
Iowa // Des Moines // 10/19/2014 Kansas// Kansas City// 10/26/2014 Oklahoma// Tulsa// 11/2/2014 Missouri// St. Louis //11/9/2014
Indiana// Bloomington // 11/16/2014 West Virginia// TBA // 11/23/2014 Kentucky // Louisville vs Lexington // 11/30/2014
Tennessee// Nashville vs Knoxville // 12/7/2014 Georgia// Atlanta// 12/14/2014 Alabama// Birmingham// 12/21/2014
Mississippi// TBA // 12/28/2014 Louisiana// New Orleans// 1/4/2015 Arkansas// Little Rock//1/11/2015 Texas// Dallas vs Austin// 1/18/2015
New Mexico // Santa Fe// 1/25/2015 Colorado// Denver //2/1/2015 Utah// Salt Lake City // 2/8/2015
Arizona// Phoenix // 2/15/2015 Nevada// Las Vegas// 2/22/2015 California// Los Angeles// 3/1/2015 California // San Francisco // 3/8/2015
Hawaii // Oahu // 3/15/2015