Last Sunday, I was invited to cater for the students and alumni of Stanford University’s Pilipino American Student Union (PASU) in celebrating their 24th year anniversary as well as honoring Filipino American History Month.
PASU’s mission is to provide voice and empowerment to Filipino Stanford students as well as to celebrate the Filipino culture and identity. It is co- founded by Julius Paras, a Stanford alumnus and the force behind Gumption Studios, a leadership learning consultancy. I’ve virtually met Julius via social media where he first asked me if I could cater for PASU’s upcoming annual picnic.
As far as catering goes, I only do it once in a blue moon, when someone requests for my food (like for my friend’s vegan wedding). Nevertheless, I was deeply flattered that Julius had requested for my food- especially considering he hadn’t tried them yet!
Here’s the menu that Julius ordered:
Kale Adobo with Jackfruit – Fresh Kale and canned jackfruit cooked in soy sauce, lemon, oil, jackfruit brine, and spices (a sweeter kind of adobo). (Recipe here)
Kangkong Adobo – Water Spinach simmered in soy sauce, lemon, oil, and spices. (Recipe here)
Pancit Palabok – Rice noodle dish with a savory sauce and sauteed vegetables and fried tofu, topped with even more vegetables, vegan chicharon and chopped green onions. (Recipe here)
Pancit Bihon Guisado- Rice noodle dish cooked with sauteed garlic, onion, vegetables, shiitake mushrooms, black pepper, soy sauce and spices. (Recipe here)
Vegan Lumpiang Shanghai - Savory vegetable and wheat gluten filling wrapped in thin rice paper and fried until crunchy. Served with sweet chili sauce on the side. (Chris’ recipe, I don’t think he would divulge this one. I’ll try to convince him :) )
The food needed to arrive at the location by 9:30am so Chris, my mom, and I started preparing the ingredients the night before the picnic. I also cooked the two adobo entrees ahead of time so the vegetables would wonderfully absorb the flavors overnight. The next morning, we got up at 5am. Chris got to frying the lumpia while my mom helped me cook the two kinds of pancit.
We finished cooking at about 8:15am with trays of food ready to be loaded in my car. After some loading configuration, Chris and I drove to Stanford University and arrived by 9am. Sundays usually have light traffic.
The Stanford campus is beautiful, with amazing towering architecture and landscape. If you haven’t visited it yet, I highly recommend you do so. Entrance is free and you don’t have to be a student to gain access. In fact, tourists and photographers alike often frequent this magnificent campus.
By 9:30am Julius and his family arrived. Julius brought his lovely wife and their beautiful baby daughter. It was nice to finally meet Julius face to face, to meet the real person behind the Twitter and Facebook profiles!
Around 10:30am, people started to grab food. The lumpia was the first one to get killed. I wasn’t surprised though, Chris did a wonderful job veganizing this Filipino favorite. The two adobos were a hit too. I was glad that someone brought rice because adobo is best enjoyed with it. The students also raved about the pancit. Although some of them are not familiar with pancit palabok, they still dug in. In fact, most of the guests claimed that they had never tried vegan Filipino food before. I was relieved that instead of being unreceptive, the guests enthusiastically tried the food and even went back for seconds.
After lunch, Julius gave a wonderful speech about community empowerment (no one star beams on its own, we’re all constellation!). The event also honored two Stanford alumni, husband and wife, Anthony Lising Antonio (the first PASU alumnus to become a Stanford faculty member and the chair of Asian American Studies) and Christine Min Wotipka, professor, community leader, and a mother of two! Chris and I felt lucky we stayed after setting up the food because otherwise we would have missed out learning about these inspiring people.
I’ve also learned that Julius is to be credited, not only for the birth of PASU in Stanford, but also for keeping it alive. He said when the organization first started in 1990, there were only about 5 Filipinos enrolled in Stanford university! (or at least the ones who cared enough to build a Filipino community there). Over the years, the members have grown in numbers and participation. Kudos to you Julius and PASU!
Thank you so much PASU for having AstigVegan cater your beautiful event! Cheers to more collaborations!