NICOLE PONSECA

FOUNDER

California Native, Nicole Ponseca is a graduate of the University of San Francisco. 

A former advertising and production executive for Saatchi & Saatchi and for Euro RSCG, Nicole realized in 1998 that there lacked an imprint of Filipino culture in the culinary arts.  Dining at some of the best restaurants in the world, she realized Filipinos had no seat at the culinary table.  Determined to change that, Nicole moonlighted for 12 years: Ad exec by day and dishwasher-hostess-waiter-manager by night. Despite restaurants’ statistics of 90% failure rate and low expectations of Filipino Food, Nicole has beat the odds by introducing America to Filipino cuisine + culture with critically and commercially successful restaurants:  Maharlika Filipino Moderno and Jeepney Filipino Gastropub, the former winning best restaurant and Michelin recommended and the latter obtaining a coveted 2 stars by the New York Times

Her efforts have found her and the team in the New York Times, TimeOut New York, AM New York, NBC, Food Network, Cooking Channel, The Chew, Vice’s Munchies series, Complex Magazine, Huffington Post, Entrepreneur, Town & Country and more. 

She is recognized for her excellent food + service and as a standout entrepreneur in the male dominated restaurant industry. 

Her awards and acknowledgments include Best Restaurant, Best Burger, Best Seafood, #6 in Zagat’s Power Player list; as well as the Bayani Award from FANHS

 

She is committed to changing the face of the culinary world.

 

MIGUEL TRINIDAD

EXECUTIVE CHEF

Executive Chef and Co-Owner of New York’s Maharlika Filipino Moderno and Jeepney Filipino Gastropub, Miguel Trinidad brings a new perspective to Filipino cuisine. His creativity and expertise on Filipino food has created a buzz and many notable publications, food writers and personalities have stated “Filipino Food is the Next Big Thing”, no doubt as a result of Chef Miguel’s pushing the cuisine in New York City.

Miguel honed his skill and love for Filipino cuisine on a three-month backpacking exploration across the island nation. His travels and his focus on Filipino food since 2007 has brought him credibility in the Filipino and United States Food + Beverage community.

Formally trained at the Institute of Culinary Education, he was a “rookie” chef when tapped to be the Executive Chef at Soho hotspot, Lola. However, it is his 20+ years experience in the restaurant industry that has made him an integral member of Maharlika and Jeepney. He has worked in nearly every capacity of the restaurant and bar business ranging from bar back to maître ‘d.

With his Dominican heritage and New York upbringing, Chef Miguel understands that pushing Filipino food forward in the culinary spotlight means thinking outside the box.

Miguel articulates that “food is living art and is constantly evolving” and keeps simplicity and quality as cornerstones of his cooking philosophy. “I like to keep the energy positive in the kitchen, it has an impact on the food,” says Miguel. Returning customers and rave media reviews are a testament to his dedication.