Taste of the Philippines, photo by Lindsey Bartlett (29)

Lumpia, a Filipino version of an eggroll

What: Taste of the Philippines at Denver Fashion Weekend

Where: You can catch Taste of the Philippines outside of Stem Cider on Fridays from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. 

When: Taste of the Philippines will serve Thursday, November 13

Have you marked your calendar yet? Denver’s biggest fashion event is upon us and if you haven’t purchased your tickets it’s time to do so for Denver Fashion Weekend (November 13, 15 and 16). With 303  it’s more than just great fashion, it’s a party and with all great parties comes great food. If you’ve lived in Denver for any span of time you’ve probably stumbled across a food truck or two parked outside of a local brewery or at Civic Center Eats. If you haven’t happened upon the Taste of the Philippines, a truck that’s dishing out traditional Filipino comfort food, you’re missing out on one of the greatest culinary experiences found in the Denver food truck scene. Kathy Gietl is the brains behind Taste of the Philippines, a quaint little food truck that serves up authentic Filipino food.

On Friday night I stopped by to meet Gietl at Stem Ciders, a cider brewery down in the RiNo district. As I parked and got out of my car I was able to see her in action, she was all smiles as she interacted with customers. Before even trying her food I was in love because that’s the sort of energy that she gives out to her customers. While Gietl spoke with the remaining customers in front of me, it gave me the chance to look over her menu. Each dish is described in detail, but for the majority of  American diners a lot of it remains unrecognizable.

“I’m always explaining what my food is, no matter how long they have looked over the menu,”Gietl said.

Taste of the Philippines, photo by Lindsey Bartlett (12)

Kathy Gietl, owner of Taste of the Philipines, hard at work.

That’s probably because even with the description of the food, it’s hard to imagine what it will taste like. Filipino food isn’t something that is universally found in Denver, making Taste of the Philippines such a unique find. Diners are recommended to jump in and get ready to taste something truly original. Gietl dished me up lumpia and pancit before I stepped inside Stem Ciders to grab a beer and wait for her to finish up with the dinner rush. When she finally joined me, it felt like grabbing dinner and drinks with a friend and again I fell in love with Gietl and her business.

“The recipes are my mom’s. When I decided to open a food truck I flew to Illinois where she lives and got all her recipes,”Gietl explained. She was just laid off from her accounting job before making the huge jump to owning her own mobile business. “That’s how it all started,” she admitted.

Taste of the Philippines, photo by Lindsey Bartlett (08)She decided that she was done with the corporate life and she decided to pursue what made her happy. Taste of the Philippines opened for business April 16, 2012 to a less than fantastic start. What Gietl explained, and what she still has trouble with now, is that nobody knows what Filipino food is. Filipino food combines bold flavors like sweet and sour or spicy and salty to create a dish that’s perfectly balancedIt is easy if you’re unfamiliar with Filipino food to assume lumpia, is an egg roll. They’re a similar concept, but the flavor is completely different from your typical greasy Chinese take out. Lumpia is a hand rolled egg roll and Gietl stuffs them with organic beef and veggies and serves them along with sweet and sour sauce. Lumpia is hearty without being heavy. It perfectly describes Filipino cuisines’ bold combination of flavors. It’s an odd contradiction but her food is filling and flavorful without making you feel weighed down. The Pancit, which is vermicelli noodles with veggies was the perfect combination to pair with the Beef Lumpia. Gietl suggests you drizzle Sriracha over the pancit if you want to give it a punch of spice. Personally, I put hot sauce on most things, and it made the pancit that much better. If you don’t like your food spicy or are a purist, everything is flavorful enough that you don’t need any hot sauce.

Gietl’s story is as inspirational as her food is tasty. Denver Fashion Weekend attendees are in for a real treat.  Stop by Thursday, November 13  of Denver Fashion Weekend to see her in action. Gietl is the best friend you always wanted and her food is the kind you never knew you were craving. Don’t miss out on the lumpia, and if you have to ask a million questions about what Filipino food is, she’s used to it.

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Photography by Lindsey Bartlett