Nicole Ponseca

Chef and restauranteur Nicole Ponseca knows that life is a series of points and finding meaning is about connecting those dots. “That’s why I like looking for signs and clues that you’re on the right path,” she says. This intuitive aim has helped her launch two Filipino restaurants, score a NY Times feature, be a judge on “Beat Bobby Flay,” and land a cookbook deal. Discover what led her to food and how fashion fits into her delectable life.

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Nicole Ponseca Cooks Up a New Chapter in Her Career

Chef and restauranteur Nicole Ponseca is putting Filipino food on the map – and this pursuit is putting her in the spotlight, too. This season, she celebrates the anniversaries of her two NYC restaurants, all while polishing up her upcoming cookbook from Workman Press imprint Artisan. Discover how her wardrobe keeps up with recent TV appearances, launch parties, and international travel – and who she looks to for inspiration.

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When she’s not cooking mouthwatering Filipino dishes like chori burgers or menudo pies, chef Nicole Ponseca is making a name for herself. These days, she finds herself not just in the kitchen but in the spotlight.

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“ Now fashion helps portray who I am and builds my self-confidence.”

 

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It’s all a part of her aim to change the face of food media to be more inclusive to people who look like her and talk like her. We caught this ambitious power player in between celebrating the five- and six-year anniversaries of her two NYC restaurants; packing for domestic and international flights; and finishing recipes and writing chapter intros for her forthcoming cookbook.

It’s all a part of her aim to change the face of food media to be more inclusive to people who look like her and talk like her. We caught this ambitious power player in between celebrating the five- and six-year anniversaries of her two NYC restaurants; packing for domestic and international flights; and finishing recipes and writing chapter intros for her forthcoming cookbook.

When asked about how fashion fits into her delectable life today, Nicole says: “When I was an entrepreneur [launching NYC’s Maharlika bistro and Jeepney gastropub], I could just roll out of bed. Now fashion helps portray who I am and builds my self-confidence. The last thing I want to think about in a big, growth-plan meeting is: How do I look?” This assurance and authority was apparent as Nicole came alive in her looks on the Spotlight set.

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It helped that her most energizing music was the backdrop in the studio. She posed behind her bar and in front of its murals with old-school Michael Jackson, Donna Summer and Madonna setting the mood. Looking great translated into feeling great, as seen in Nicole’s radiant grin. “I wanted the first dress I tried on –the purple dress. And I’ll get the Oxford shirt with ruffles, too” says our model, who usually doesn’t opt for anything frilly. “I’m more tomboy-ish – very clean and preppy – so I’m often in jeans and a good d’Orsay flat. Eloquii’s full-fledged femininity allows me to explore my Solange side – bridging both boyish and feminine styling, “said Nicole.

One of her favorite Eloquii buys was a style in this vain: a sweet, yellow tie dress. It was her It look when she appeared on Food Network this May with a fellow NYC Executive Chef Bill Telepan.

Now, Nicole’s focusing on travel-friendly clothes for her trips to the west coast and the Philippines.

“The past six weeks, it feels like I’ve been gone every weekend visiting California,” she explains. “In October, we’re going to be going everywhere in the Philippines to shoot principal photography for the cookbook – two full weeks in the far north, deep south and from east to west. We’re going places my parents haven’t even been to.”

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As her career skyrockets, Nicole says she sees the time between professional landmarks growing shorter. However, she reminds us all of what her mom always says: “In time, grass becomes milk.” Everything goes through its own stages to one day become what it’s meant to be – it’s not overnight. She recalls working on her first restaurant for 12 years before even opening the door. “If I told the 20-year-old me that one day her name would be in Barnes and Noble, she would have said, ‘No way.’”

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THE ELQ&A

Who were your icons growing up?
Charlie’s Angels and Mary Tyler Moore. They weren’t girls. They were women – at the apex of beauty and charm. They knew what they wanted.

Who is your stye icon now?
Lauren Hutton is the most influential for me because of her clean, Americana look.

Who's had a major influence on you?
My mom. A lot of women have a very special relationship with my mom. She’s relentless in her vision for me to do whatever I want to do. I very much value what she’s taught me.

What moment do you remember feeling your best?
Almost 20 years ago when I moved to NYC with $75 in my pocket but I felt my best – like a million bucks – in my one gray, stretch-wool suit even with nothing to my name.

What style are you most excited to try in 2017?
Trends from college like denim with patchwork, feather fringe and higher waists.


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