Amber Manuguid is a powerhouse. Designer by day, and restaurateur by night.
“Delightful experiences are what we’re trying to create here,” Amber Manuguid said speaking about Archipelago, the restaurant she and her husband co-own and operate. Since her time studying at UW, she and her husband have been working to bring cultural awareness of the Filipino heritage and presence to America because it isn't talked about in our textbooks, in the right light or at all.
This love for food and Filipino culture has brought them to opening their Hillman City restaurant. The dinner experience that Manuguid and her husband put on 4-nights a week is like sitting at their kitchen nook, and having them narrate the cultural history of the Philippines by way of perfectly prepared dishes.
When Manuguid isn't in the kitchen or designing experiences, she has dedicated her time to organizations like The Asian American Film Fest, Kalsada Coffee, Filipino Community Center, Filipino Lawyers of Washington and ILAW.
This was my first occasion meeting Amber, but as soon as she began talking about her father, I instantly connected and knew the relationship she was talking about. My father and I have a special bond, something unspoken when we’re in the car listening to music or in the kitchen together.
What was your kitchen like growing up?
Growing up, my dad was the cook in my family. He was an exceptional cook, and being from Pampanga, it's said that those from there make the best adobo.
My mom makes wonderful food, but he was typically the one cooking, and I was always nearby, eating.
I just have fond memories of having doughnuts for breakfast and whenever I came home from school, he’d make me whatever I wanted.
He also had a great love of music. There was always music playing in the kitchen; he had installed surround-sound speakers.
Food is very precious to me. It is more than physical nourishment.
Who are your biggest inspirations?
It always changes depending on where I’m at in life.
My family is a huge inspiration of mine, especially my dad and my sister, they’ve been anchors in my entire life.
What have you been reading (watching, and listening to) lately?
I love Business Wars! I mean I work in product design and am building a business so thats my favorite thing to listen to right now.
I’ve also been reading America is Not in The Heart by Elaine Castillo.
What are you looking forward to in 2019?
I tend to not look too forward, I’m not necessarily someone who’s always in the present, but I try to tackle things as they come. With the exception of trips, I don't like to plan out life per say.
I’m really excited about a lot of my friends in the filipino community are opening up their own brick and mortar restaurants, like Hood Famous Cafe + Bar.
I love the pop-ups but it's nice to have these places that you can always to go and they the fact that they exist.
It's great because I feel like we’re covering the spectrum of fine dining to cheesecakes to bar food and everywhere in between.
I think that's what I’m most looking forward to this year.
What does self care look like in 2019?
We hope to grow the team - hire more people to help us out. At the same time, we need to keep it small because it's a small space.
And the other thing that we’re pushing for in the industry is balance; it's a little bit unheard of because were a tasting menu duo, but a bigger team would help Aaron and I plan and set up our time to create that balance.
For example, we’ve been fully booked which is great, we didn't quite forecast for it and so we’re planning on closing down for a few weeks and doing an R&D trip. Different things like that help us work and work, then re-coop and come back and be fresh.
Dear Young People…
So many things...I will say one thing, cherish your summer vacations.
Also, really try to do what you love. I have been very fortunate to have that kind of guidance. The thought is that if you like something, you will be good at it. Find something that you love and that you can lose yourself in. Also, know that there is no path. It took me a long time to realize that there is no right, or direct way in life!