The digital space now shares food in real life, selling out veggie burgers every weekend.
Like everyone else during the pandemic, Bea Ledesma has been cooking at home a lot more than usual not just to stay safe or kill time, but also to cope with the uncertain times.
“Cooking is meditative,” the former magazine editor and publisher tells Lifestyle Asia. “You’re working with your senses—tasting, smelling, and feeling—and there’s something incredibly soothing about that. I play a little Mariah in the background, start chopping, and the rest of the world’s problems slip away for half an hour or so.”
Ledesma recognizes just how pleasurable making food for herself is that she wanted a space to document it. That’s when she created A Home Kewk, a foodstagram that “celebrates the everyday home kewk (cook).”
It presents home-cooked meals by artists, fashion creatives, writers, photographers, among others in the industry—Ledesma herself included—along with recipes that followers can try in their own kitchen.
“Part of this project is to explore the way food is meaningful to us—how we interact with it, enjoy it, and how we share it with others,” she says. “Food—and sharing the process of making it—is deeply intimate and indicative of the way we live, how we grew up, where we’re from, and what we’re interested in now. And it’s fun to explore the ways we’re all different and we’re all the same when it comes to food.
Managing the page, which now has over 2,000 followers, has been as enjoyable as cooking for Ledesma. Four months since its first post, it has become a community that encourages creativity, support for fellow home cooks, and generosity.
“I enjoy seeing how friends as well as strangers who’ve become friends navigate the recipes they learned or invented themselves,” she says. “People are remarkably generous with their food—whether it’s a recipe or the actual dish. I’ve had some people send over the food they made.”
Virtual to real
In what Ledesma thought “seemed like a natural progression,” all the food-sharing action soon moved outside Instagram through A Home Kewk’s first pop-up at The Alley at Karrivin.
Together with a small team that included Metronome chef Miko Calo, Toyo Eatery’s May and Jordy Navarra and their staff, and The Alley At Karrivin, mounted the one-day-only food stall.
“The pop-up was an exploratory exercise. Could I do it? Could I make and sell food and not collapse in the process? Turns out I can,” she explains. “Although I did collapse after as food prep is difficult, it was a humbling experience considering that I have no formal background in food.”
The pop-up offered a lacto-ovo vegetarian menu, which means the food has no meat, fish and poultry, but has dairy products and eggs.
One of the items is the Happy Egg Sando (P450), which is made of eggs, kewpie, celery, onion, dill, celery salt with cucumbers sandwiched inside Toyo Panaderya’s leche pan. It comes with a side of blistered shishito peppers.
“I’ve been making various iterations of this egg sando, and this version—using my hero herbs—is one of my favorites,” she shares.
The obvious bestseller is her Very Veggie Burger (P400). It’s a healthier version of the fast food burger that’s central to her favorite food memory from her childhood—spending her birthday at a burger joint “surrounded by sweaty mascots and stuffing my face with burger, nuggets, and sweet spaghetti.”
Ledesma’s veggie patty is made with banana heart, malunggay, cashews, allium, eggs, and secret spices. After frying, the veggie patty is sandwiched in a potato bun with housemade malunggay ranch, onions, and pickles.
“The cashews give it a heft and a meaty bite. The banana heart gives it body, and the malunggay gives it mild vegetal notes,” she says. “The veggie burger isn’t trying to pretend it’s meat—it’s not. It’s just great for you as it’s a source of potassium, calcium, and vitamin C.”
True enough, it has received rave reviews based on Instagram stories from the likes of Mark Bumgarner, Bianca Gonzales, Pam Quinones, Ivarluski Aseron, BJ Pascual, Rissa Mananquil Trillo, Liz Uy, and more.
And all these are an extension of what Ledesma also hopes to do through A Home Kewk—to just enjoy food.
“I’ve had to unlearn a lot of things about diet culture over the past few years, reckoning with my own participation in it in general and how much harmful messaging I’ve internalized and promoted. I’ve had to learn to love food,” she says. “By that I mean not demonizing it and just seeing it as a source of nourishment and pleasure.”
Ledesma says she wanted to talk about food positivity because she once was so obsessed with policing her food intake in the past, so much so that it became an object of shame and punishment.
“Many of my peers seem to feel the same way and it’s such a burden,” she adds. “So many women feel forced to approach food in a joyless manner because we’ve been taught to think of calories first—as though it were harmful—and satisfaction second. So this project is teaching me to eat with joy, to be in the moment, and to share that same pleasure with others.”
At the moment, there are no plans for another pop-up, but Ledesma accepts pre-orders for pick-up every Saturday in Makati.
Banner Photo from @ahomekewk on IG