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Juana Yupangco Cooks With 100% Local Veggies—And Maybe You Should Too

Juana Manahan-Yupangco and her Mesa ni Misis want us to change our mindset, and rethink our notions of Eating Healthy and Kitchen Economics. Admittedly, it may be a tall order and she’s up against time-hardened behavior patterns of Filipino food consumption and buying for the home; but you can’t fault her for trying—and it’s heartening to see establishments like Flame, Discovery Primea ready to throw their full support behind her advocacy. 

As part of Discovery Primea’s ongoing Hub Series held one balmy Sunday afternoon at Flame, Juana collaborated with resident executive chef, Luis Chikiamco, in presenting five dishes that extolled the virtues of her advocacy, and yet, didn’t sacrifice on taste, quality, and presentation. It was about highlighting sophisticated yet delicious vegetable-centric fare using 100% local produce fresh from the market.



First up was Juana’s Kangkong Dip, where kangkong was used as a substitute for spinach or asparagus. And by mixing mozzarella and Parmigiano cheeses to the ingredients, the dip was just as great as those that utilize imported vegetables.

Then Luis presented his Monggo Stew. Inspired by the lentil dishes he would prepare when working in France, this one used shiitake mushrooms for the ‘sausage balls’; and this was one hearty preparation that admittedly deviated from the pure vegetable preparation dictum, by employing chopped double smoked bacon. But when it ends up as delicious as this one did, all was forgiven!

An all-vegetable eggplant-led Moussaka followed, and everyone agreed that this one from Juana was a winner. On cue, Juana’s husband Ric and her two children arrived, and she proudly explained how all her dishes are tested on her children to ensure they don’t lack in taste or appeal with kids. 


Luis’ next dish was his Sicilian Pumpkin Fusilli with Tinapa Brown Butter. Kalabasa-led, this one employed an optional dose of honey which sweetened the dish in a surprising manner, and helped temper the tinapa. 

For dessert, Juana presented her Sayote Crumble, which was as good and delicious as any apple crumble. As Juana was happy to report, we could just imagine how this one with sayote comes in at a fraction of the cost of the apple version. 

Through five delicious vegetable-centric dishes, Juana brought to the fore the focus of Mesa ni Misis. This advocacy seeks to work on more than one level. At one level, there’s the average Filipino household that needs to realize that Nutrition can come via fresh, affordable local vegetables. For example, daily protein requirement can come from bean sprouts, and not from more economically priced, but low quality, meat. And that our predilection for canned goods and processed meat is due for an overhaul. 

The other level involves the high-income household, where the housewives, cooks, and yayas have been ‘brainwashed’ to thinking healthy means expensive; that vegetables such as quinoa and kale should be the go-to resource. For Juana, we should be supporting local produce and the local farming community. Local produce is fresher, sustainable, and even makes better Peso-sense. It’s these households which should be setting the example.



To achieve this, Mesa ni Misis has been holding cooking demos and feeding events within local schools and tutoring programs. As Juana was proud to recount, when she does these sessions for the average households, she makes sure the dishes can be prepared in one pot and over one burner, as she’s aware that time and cost efficiency are telling factors. Her most expensive menu item cost is P250, and that feeds 10 persons. The idea is to source from the local palengke and be sensitive of seasonal availability and pricing. If she puts the emphasis on local vegetables, it’s because she knows these are more readily available and won’t strain the purse strings. 

Juana’s Mesa ni Misis is less than a year old; but it has rapidly gained traction because the message is so potent, and makes so much sense. Without sacrificing Taste or Nutrition, you can also support local farmers and join the movement for Sustainable Cuisine. You just have to ‘Juana’ be part of this!


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For information about the ongoing The Hub Series at Flame, call (02) 955-8888, email, or visit