For Chera Amlag and George Quibuyen, married owners of Hood Famous Bakeshop in Ballard, food is a way to share Filipino culture with their family and community. Best known for their purple ube cheesecake, the couple has immersed their two kids in the family business.
“When our son was one,” Amlag recounts, “he didn’t know the color purple was purple. He thought it was called ube.”
Ube is a purple root vegetable high in Vitamin E and potassium. Subtly sweet, it’s traditionally used in Filipino desserts such as pudding, jam, ice cream, or flan. Amlag puts an American spin on ube with kid-friendly treats like cheesecakes, tarts, and cookies. Families can special order large cheesecakes, or dessert trays for parties and birthdays.
Amlag first sold the ube cheesecakes at Asian stores like Uwajimaya after they proved popular during a Filipino pop-up series, Food & Sh*t. With growing demand, Amlag quit her full-time job at Highline College and opened Hood Famous Bakeshop with Quibuyen. That store will soon be joined by Hood Famous Cafe + Bar, another location in the International District serving desserts and savory pastries stuffed with Filipino ingredients.
PHOTO: JOSHUA HUSTON
Hood Famous Cafe + Bar will soon open in the International District.
“That little purple cheesecake definitely changed the trajectory of my life and career,” says Amlag. Despite the faster pace of life that has come with their success, the couple keeps their kids involved with their network of friends, many of whom are Filipino.
“We try to make it a point to teach my oldest son how to cook dishes like adobo,” says Quibuyen. “I inject a bit of family history, Filipino history, and the limited Filipino vocabulary that I have.”
Filipinos initially came to Seattle in the late 1800s to work in canneries around Puget Sound. By the 1990s, Seattle’s Filipino population had grown to more than 30,000. While rising rents have led to closures of established Filipino restaurants like Inay’s and Kusina Filipina, Amlag and Quibuyen are hopeful for the next generation of Filipino food businesses.
“There are a lot of Filipinos in the industry,” says Quibuyen. “I think it’s the seed of something greater.”
Hood Famous is now part of a coalition of Filipino-owned food and beverage businesses in the Pacific Northwest called ILAW.
“We organically formed this network of people who are Filipino, trying to promote Filipino culture,” adds Amlag. “It’s really important for us to tell our own story.”
Hood Famous Bakeshop: 2325½ NW Market St.