Marvin Gapultos - Writer, Author
Marvin Gapultos is a writer and author of Filipino cookbooks Adobo Road and Pulutan. His work and passion in Filipino food began with his food blog: Burnt Lumpia, followed by the Filipino food truck the Manila Machine, interest and an audience for Filipino food, and then a book deal and another. His pulutan recipe research that began during writing of his first book began the inspiration towards the current book. And as a Certified Cicerone, a book about Filipino bar snacks and small dishes was a perfect choice. The recipes in Pulutan are easy, accessible bites for your next party. Don’t forget the cold drinks!
How did you create your career path?
I wouldn’t call writing cookbooks a career path, it’s more like a very ambitious, difficult, and time-consuming hobby! But in all seriousness, cookbook writing is indeed something that has been a long-held goal of mine.
I started my food blog, Burnt Lumpia, back in 2007, and it was during that time that I created a goal for myself to write a Filipino cookbook. After maybe a year or two of blogging, I wrote a cookbook proposal and sent it out to a few publishing companies in hopes of winning a contract. I was turned down by each and every one of them. According to the feedback of one of the publishers: I had a great idea for a cookbook, but there wasn’t an audience for Filipino food.
I disagreed with that notion, though. I knew there was an audience. I just had to prove it. So, undeterred, I started a Filipino food truck, The Manila Machine, in Los Angeles, CA. It became fairly popular, did well, and ultimately showed that there was indeed a hungry audience ready for Filipino food. So, long story short, I got my first book deal for The Adobo Road Cookbook, and I closed the truck. And here I am today with the release of my second cookbook, Pulutan!
Have you always been interested in writing? And when did you decide to write about Filipino food?
I’ve always wanted to be a writer, since I was a young child. But writing as a profession wasn’t something that was encouraged by my parents who were both in the medical field. I actually started college as a pharmacology major, and quickly realized it wasn’t what I wanted to do. I started writing for the sports page of my college newspaper, became the sports editor, and ended up graduating with a Major in Communications and a Minor in Writing.
I decided to write about Filipino food around 2007 when I started my blog.
What inspires you to work on and share Filipino cuisine through your work (Burnt Lumpia, Manila Machine, your books)?
Learning more and more about my culture, and passing that knowledge on to others, is what inspires me.
What do you love about the work you do?
I love that I’m helping, in whatever small way I can, to shed light on what was once an unknown. I love that more and more people are eating and appreciating Filipino food.
How do you feel about the growing Fil Am food community?
It’s definitely exciting to see more young Fil Am chefs and entrepreneurs opening restaurants, being successful, and pushing their own perspectives on our food. Because Filipino food, and the Philippines itself is so diverse and varied, it’s important that we see and hear these different stories, and taste these different interpretations of our cuisine. It’s awesome that this is happening across the country, and that there are now more options for Filipino food than ever before.
What is your favorite part about the process of preparing a dish?
Although I do find cooking stressful at times, there is a meditative aspect of preparing a meal. I love that aspect of losing myself, not really being aware of what else is going on around me, and focusing on the dish at hand.
What are some of your favorite Filipino dishes to make? To eat?
Pinakbet is hands down, my most favorite Filipino dish to eat. Specifically, my Great Auntie Puyong’s Pinakbet, but really any Pinakbet will do. And it is also my favorite dish to make, because I’ve gotten quite comfortable in my version, though it’s nowhere close to Auntie Puyong’s.
Pulutan is drinking food and snacks, what inspired you to create a book with these recipes?
I have a small Pulutan section of recipes in my first cookbook, The Adobo Road, and it was when I was researching those recipes, that I realized there was so much more I could do. So I knew then that I had to dedicate a whole book to the subject. And honestly, I love to drink. I’m a Certified Cicerone, which is sort of the beer equivalent to a wine sommelier, so my love of drinking and of Filipino food are a natural match.
Do you have any projects you are excited to work on?
Nothing is currently in the works, but I’d love to write a 3rd Filipino cookbook, but we’ll see how that goes…
Photos curtesy of Marvin Gapultos & Burnt Lumpia