kamayan feast

A Kamayan Feast With Woldy Reyes and ICC Alumna Lani Halliday

lani and woldyLani Halliday of Brutus Bakeshop and Woldy Reyes of Woldy Kusina are renowned Brooklyn chefs known for their innovative and collaborative projects. Since 2015, Lani has made a name for herself with her delicious, gluten-free creations, including her popular snake cakes. A graduate of ICC’s Food Business Fundamentals program, she was recently featured on the cover of Cherry Bombe magazine’s 14th issue. This month, Lani and business partner Woldy, bring a new immersive dining experience to the rooftop of the Ferris restaurant at the MADE Hotel, “Departure – A Modern Kamayan Feast”.

You could say the stars aligned for Lani and Woldy who met at commercial co-working space, Pilotworks, which closed down abruptly in late 2018. Before the closure, the duo had been working out of Pilotworks on a project that launched their partnership. Unfortunately, the sudden closure forced them to leave behind all of their food stock and supplies. When one door closed, the two found a way to open another—they began working on a new project, Departure Kamayan.

Woldy, the son of two Filipino immigrants, loves to share his heritage with the world through food and aims to modernize traditional Filipino feasts through this project. Alongside Chef Tyler Heckman and Charles Seich of Ferris restaurant at the MADE Hotel, Lani and Woldy are bringing an intimate, immersive experience to the rooftop dining room of the MADE Hotel, set in a tropical oasis. The evening features plant-based interpretations of classic Filipino dishes including Pansit, Lumpia, Adobo, Kare Kare and Bibingka, with flavors that transport you far from NYC.

#DepartureKamayan kicked-off last week as a limited, ticketed dinner series running on select days from January 21 through the end of March. Tickets are $100 per person (+tax) and can be purchased through Ferris on RESY for February 11, February 25, March 10 or March 24. We sat down with the duo to learn more about their partnership and the launch of their festive Kamayan feasts. Check out our interview with them below!

First of all, congratulations Lani on your recent cover of Cherry Bombe! What has it been like to gain this acknowledgement for everything you’ve been doing in the food industry?

Lani: Thank you so much! It’s been really dreamy to be honest. On the one hand it’s been a fantastic opportunity to practice the art of acknowledging and receiving. I definitely identify as someone who can mechanically move through accomplishments without fully acknowledging, celebrating and fully luxuriating in my experiences. So I’ve consciously chosen to do that this time around. Its also been really fun! Anyone who knows me knows i LOVE to connect and collaborate and this has certainly made that process easier. It’s opened doors for me to continue to do what I love to do best. 

How did your partnership come about?

Woldy: Lani and I met at a commercial kitchen co-working space, Pilotworks which closed down abruptly in late 2018.  Lani is the owner and pastry chef of the custom gluten-free baked-goods project, Brutus Bakeshop and I’m the chef and owner of a catering company Woldy Kusina. We admired each other’s work and I would buy her gluten free pastries for catered events. From there, we continued to collaborate on projects and we are excited to partner with Ferris’s team Chef Tyler Heckman and Charles Seich on this dinner series – #DepartureKamayan.

Lani, you opened Brutus Bakeshop in 2015 and later took ICC’s Food Business program in 2018. How would you say ICC’s program has helped you in operating an existing business?

L: The program was invaluable. I already owned Brutus when I took the course, but what the course gave me was an opportunity to ‘level-up’. I was able to learn new things, enrich areas of familiarity and crystallize some things that I already knew. It certainly clarified the areas of importance and showed me ways of understanding that I didn’t previously possess. I walked away being able to write an incredibly solid business plan as well as a skill set that will allow me to do that again for my next venture. 

What would you say is the most important trait to find in a business partner?

W: Lani and I operate and run our own businesses, respectively and we are so lucky enough that we share the same ideas and approach to doing business. Having similar ideals around hospitality, beauty, and what luxury, care and service looks like is important. Plus we enjoy and respect each other so very much. We’re like a double act. We have our own language. It’s definitely the mutual admiration society with tons of laughs with us.

What has it been like to build this partnership and dinner series?

Both: This journey has been a blessing and we are so fortunate enough that the team at Ferris has been so open and accepting of the vision that we want to share with people. They have definitely provided a safe and warming space for us to share our talents and story!

What made you want to showcase Filipino food in the Kamayan-style feast? How does it differ from other Filipino restaurants in NYC?

W: I wanted to share an important part of me which is being a proud Queer Filipino-American and to share with people a celebratory and elevated Filipino food experience. Lani and I envisioned this feast to be a multi-sensory eating experience. When guests arrive, they enter into a tropical oasis and greeted with a cocktail called “Ube Bae” a Filipino take on a piña colada. Guests then witness the feast being built and laid out onto a banana leaf covered table. As each dish comes out, the room is filled with aromas and guests are excited to eat. Before eating, we do a ceremonial hand washing. It’s a spiritual way to start the dinner. Then everyone dives into the feast and enjoys it!

kamayan dinner

Kamayan feasts are traditional in Filipino culture for celebrating community, but DEPARTURE is a modern take on this tradition. Can you share what traditional elements will be experienced in DEPARTURE, and what modern elements are being brought to the table? 

Both: Kamayan is an abundant and luscious Filipino feast served on a banana leaf and eaten with your bare hands. It’s a communal experience. I love the idea where strangers come and sit down to see a colorful array of food laid out in front of them and there are no utensils except your hands. Eating with your hands is a spiritual and personal experience. Then you formulate a conversation and bond with people around you who were once strangers, but are now your eating buddies! This builds community.

The modern approach to this Kamayan dinner is that we took classic Filipino dishes which are usually meat heavy and made it very vegetable forward. Save for fish sauce, the dinner is vegetarian, and gluten-free, save for the lumpia.

We’re seeing more dining experiences pop-up in NYC that push diners out of their comfort zone. Can you share what you hope to achieve by bringing people together in this intimate setting? Are there any challenges that you foresee?

Both:Yes, that’s a really valuable part of what we have to offer. DEPARTURE is certainly that—a departure from the familiar Euro-centric dining format that most New Yorkers identify as “normal”. As chefs, we get so much out of seeing the emotional and intellectual journey that the diners get to experience. It’s really an incredibly unique experience. The only challenges (as well as the resolutions) lie in the individual diners themselves. DEPARTURE really is a celebration of abundance, play and fun.

Oh, actually food allergies are a challenge! Because of the format, we can’t really offer concessions, substitutions or modifications. At all. We love people, we love hospitality and we really, really love to feed people, but unfortunately this one is not for our friends with certain food restrictions.

What does the future hold for Woldy & Lani? Can we expect more unique dinner-series pop-ups? What will you team up to do next?

Both: As part of our goals and fresh outlook for the new decade, we’re consciously choosing to focus solely on this series in terms of what’s next. We’ve got another 2 months left to relish this series and luxuriating in that is key to the beauty of the project. That said there are tremendously exciting things (including more projects with the Ferris Team) that are percolating for the both of us and you can follow along on our respective social media channels for updates!

Follow Lani on Instagram @brutusbakeshop and visit her website at www.brutusbakeshop.com.
Follow Woldy on Instagram @woldykusina and visit his website at www.woldyskusina.com.
Cherry Bombe 100 influential women

The Cherry Bombe 100: A Celebration of Influential Women

Over the past five years, Cherry Bombe has celebrated women in the culinary world, sharing their stories and building a community of people making the world a better place through food. This year, they introduced The Cherry Bombe 100, a list of the 100 women who inspire the food world through their creativity, energy, humanity and hard work. From chefs and restaurant owners to food activists, writers, entrepreneurs and more, these women are influential to both the culinary industry and the ICC Community!

We’re proud to recognize ICC Food Business Fundamentals instructor, Liz Alpern, and nine ICC alumni who made it on The Cherry Bombe 100 list for their incredible work and accomplishments as innovators and thought leaders in the culinary industry. Check out these 10 amazing women below, and see the full Cherry Bombe 100 list here.

Liz Alpern
Food Business Fundamentals

To have chutzpah is to be audacious—and culinary consultant and teacher Liz Alpern is nothing if not audacious. She co-founded The Gefilteria as a way to rethink gefilte fish, a traditional food that few chefs were clamoring to reclaim, and has since grown the company from a single product to one with workshops, pop-up dinners, and a cookbook: The Gefilte Manifesto: New Recipes for Old World Jewish Food. Liz, however, is as much new school as she is old school. She’s also co-founder of Queer Soup Night, a roving fundraising party that celebrates a previously overlooked category of chefs and food enthusiasts.

Ashley Christensen
Ashley Christensen
Sous Vide Intensive ’12

Since making Raleigh, North Carolina, her home, Ashley Christensen has sought to foster community through food, philanthropy and the stimulation of the city’s downtown neighborhood. After working in some of the Triangle’s top kitchens, Ashley opened Poole’s Diner in 2007, one of downtown Raleigh’s first restaurants. In 2011, she opened three new ventures—Beasley’s Chicken + Honey, Chuck’s, and Fox Liquor Bar. In the spring of 2015, her restaurant group introduced Death & Taxes, a restaurant celebrating wood-fire cooking with Southern ingredients, and Bridge Club, a private events loft and cooking classroom. Ashley is an active member of the Southern Foodways Alliance and founded the biannual event Stir the Pot, in which she hosts visiting chefs in Raleigh to raise funds for the SFA’s documentary initiatives.

Angela Garbacz
Angela Garbacz
 Professional Pastry Arts ’08

Angela Garbacz is the owner of Goldenrod Pastries, a boutique pastry shop in Lincoln, Nebraska. In 2008, she moved to New York City to attend the French Culinary Institute (now International Culinary Center), where she earned a degree in Classic French Pastry Arts. During her time there, she worked with top toques in the industry, including Dave Arnold, Jean Georges Vongerichten, Nils Nóren, and Harold McGee. Years later, after learning she had an intolerance to dairy, she decided to chronicle her baking journey, and started the Goldenrod Pastries blog. It was there she reimagined baking for a variety of restricted and alternative diets (dairy-free, gluten-free, vegan). Her recipes, photos and anecdotes quickly gained a large and dedicated following. For a year, Angela was fulfilling catering orders out of her home kitchen while also working in international marketing. Realizing it was time to pursue pastry full-time, she quit her job in 2015 and opened the doors to Goldenrod Pastries where her all-American desserts and pastries feature unique flavor combinations and a strikingly vivid color palette.

Lani Halliday
Lani Halliday
Food Business Fundamentals ’18

Lani Halliday is the creative baker behind Brooklyn’s Brutus Bakeshop. She has made a name for herself with her delicious, colorful, gluten-free creations–including her fabulous snake cakes. She has contributed her time and talent to organizations such as Queer Soup Night, the roving fundraising event. She is currently at work on a new concept, Dominga Brooklyn, set to debut next year, and she is currently helping the small businesses impacted by the closing of the Pilotworks incubator program find new workspace and resources.

Angie Mar
Angie Mar
Professional Culinary Arts ’11 

Think all steakhouses are ultra-masculine affairs? Not according to Chef Angie Mar. The Seattle native has run the kitchen at The Beatrice Inn since 2013, then fully reinvented the hallowed spot as owner and executive chef in 2016. The historic, subterranean West Village restaurant, best known in the early aughts as the paparazzi-swarmed after-hours boite of choice for the Olsens, Lindsay Lohan, and Chloe Sevigny, has become an impressive shrine to meat matters, where Angie showcases whole animal butchery, live fire cooking, and dry aging prowess. Before The Beatrice Inn, Angie cooked at multiple NYC carnivore’s havens, like Marlow & Sons, Diner, and Reynard, plus The Spotted Pig. Angie proves superb steak certainly isn’t—and shouldn’t be—a bro-y boys’ club.

Camilla Marcus
Camilla Marcus
Professional Culinary Arts ’08

Camilla Marcus has one of the most modern minds in the restaurant world today. She helped bring to life some of New York’s most beloved neighborhood restaurants, including dell’anima, Riverpark, and the reopened Union Square Café, but it’s with the launch of west-bourne that her passions fully come together. An accidentally vegetarian and decidedly wholesome concept, west-bourne brings people together to eat well and do good, which means a business model that incorporates youth job training, an emphasis on organic and local produce, and a zero-waste approach to benefit the planet and its people. Camilla is also co-founder of TechTable, a hospitality technology thought leadership platform, and a partner in Pound for Pound Consulting, a boutique strategic and creative agency for hospitality-related initiatives.

Klancy Miller
Klancy Miller
The Craft of Food Writing ’04

Klancy Miller is the author of Cooking Solo: The Fun of Cooking For Yourself. She is a writer and pastry chef and earned her diplôme de pâtisserie from Le Cordon Bleu Paris, and apprenticed at the Michelin-starred restaurant Taillevent. She has appeared in The New York Times Food section and on Food Network’s Recipe for Success and Cooking Channel’s Unique Sweets. She has contributed to Cherry Bombe, Bon Appétit, Food 52 and The Washington Post. Klancy is a co-founder of the cookbook club at The Wing and an advisory board member for Equity at The Table (EATT).

Grace Ramirez
Grace Ramirez
Professional Culinary Arts ’11

Grace Ramirez is the tenacious chef, author, and TV personality born in Venezuela and raised in Miami. Her gorgeous cookbook, La Latina: A Cook’s Journey Through Latin America, is a celebration of and love letter to her culture. When her proposal for a book about Latin food was rejected, Grace worked around the system and found a way to get La Latina published. She also hustled to get her TV career off the ground and today hosts Destino Con Sabor on the Food Network. Grace actively supports numerous relief efforts throughout the world for Mexico, Puerto Rico and Venezuela, working with World Central Kitchen, El Plato Caliente, Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos, and many others. Her drive, passion and humanitarian efforts were recognized with a Distinguished Latina Star award from the Puerto Rican Bar Association.

Avery Ruzicka
Avery Ruzicka
Art of International Bread Baking ’11

Avery Ruzicka believes in milling your own flour, a long fermentation process, and the power of freshly baked bread. She is the baker and co-owner of Manresa Bread, the spinoff of the popular Manresa restaurant in Los Gatos, California. She started working at the restaurant as a runner, but longed to be in the kitchen. Once there, she felt a restaurant of Manresa’s caliber should be making its own bread, and was given the go-ahead to start baking. Today, there are two Manresa Bread brick-and-mortar locations and stands at the Palo Alto and Campbell farmers’ markets. Avery fans will be thrilled to know an all-day bakery and cafe will open soon in Campbell, giving them another way to get the Manresa Bread delights, which include the signature Levain, hand-rolled Croissants, Whole Grain Salted Caramel Sourdough Donuts, Triple Chocolate Orange Panettone, Chocolate Babka, and more.

Christina Tosi
Christina Tosi
Professional Pastry Arts ’04

Superstar pastry chef and Milk Bar founder Christina Tosi single-handedly changed the way we look at dessert. She brought modernity and creativity to the category with her unique baked goods, including Compost Cookies and Crack Pie. She elevated soft serve from simple summer treat to something chef-worthy. And we have her to thank for the naked cake trend: she wanted to leave the outside of cakes unfrosted so we could see what was inside. Her third book, All About Cake, is out this month, and she was the subject of a recent Chef’s Table documentary so sincere it moved many of her fans to tears.