A celebration of Filipino food in Juneau

Tasha Elizarde, KTOO’s community reporting fellow, with interview guests Rachel Barril, Lionel Udippa, and Aims Villanueva-Alf on Juneau Afternoon Friday, Oct. 21, 2022, at the KTOO studio in Juneau. (Photo by Sheli DeLaney/KTOO)

October is Filipino American History Month. An event over the weekend in Juneau will celebrate Filipino food with several local chefs.

“So all of my memories, there’s always food associated with them,” said chef Rachel Barril. “Filipino food is the cornerstone of Filipino culture. It’s how we gather for family celebrations, funerals, that kind of thing.”

Barril works at In Bocca Al Lupo in Juneau, which is known for its wood fired pizza. But Barril makes sure there’s always a Filipino take.

“I take the traditional dishes and apply more modern techniques that I’ve learned. I like fermentation. Recently I learned to make miso out of peanuts and I used it in a kare kare dish. It’s like a peanut curry, usually served over oxtail,” she said.

October is the time to consider the contributions of Filipinos to U.S. history because the first Filipinos landed in what is now the United States in October of 1587.

“So, Filipinos have been in America for 435 years. And that’s 33 years before the pilgrims landed,” said chef Aims Villanueva-Alf, who owns Black Moon Coven in Juneau. “I never knew that.”

Villanueva-Alf is from Juneau, but the rich and long history of Filipinos in Alaska specifically is something she’s only recently started to embrace since moving back from the Lower 48.

“I don’t feel like fully let myself really nourish myself in my culture and my heritage until I was out of Juneau,” she said.

Lionel Udippa from Red Spruce and Abby Laforce Barnett from Zerelda’s Bistro will also be bringing food for the event hosted at the Filipino Community, Inc. hall downtown. And they’ll join in a panel discussion, followed by a screening of Ulam, a documentary about Filipino food, sponsored by Friends of the Juneau Public Libraries.

Listen to the full interview on Juneau Afternoon.

This story is part of KTOO’s participation in the America Amplified initiative to use community engagement to inform and strengthen our journalism. America Amplified is a public media initiative funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.


America Amplified

KTOO is amplifying the voices of Filipinos in Alaska. We want to hear from you. What stories would you like to share or learn more about?


Jennifer Pemberton

Managing Editor, KTOO

I bring stories from the community into the KTOO newsroom so that all of our reporting matters. I want to hear my community’s struggles and its wins reflected in our coverage. Does our reporting reflect your experience in Juneau?

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