I discovered A Taste of the Philippines, Kathy Poland’s food cart on the 16th Street Mall, and chicken adobo on the same happy day. That was just about three years ago. Since that time, I’ve kept a steady stock of palm vinegar in my pantry to recreate the entrée, which is the national dish of the 7,000-plus islands that make up the country. The layers of tangy, salty, and sweet are comforting and exotic—and I keep returning to them as if to untangle their secrets.

Although Poland has left the 16th Street Mall to pursue catering and events like Civic Center Eats (better hours, she says), she now has a chance to cast an even wider spell when she appears as a contestant on the Food Network‘s Cutthroat Kitchen on Sunday, June 14, at 8 p.m.

In October, she received a call saying that the show was casting for Season 8 and 9, and would she audition. Poland’s answer: “Yes!” After completing the interview process, she flew to L.A. for the taping. She’s mum on the show’s outcome but says she’s happy with the results, especially for not being a trained chef (Poland ’s background is in accounting). More than that though, Poland sees this as an opportunity for Filipino cuisine to garner attention. “This is huge for me. I’m representing such an underrated cuisine,” she says. “But I think Filipino food is about to explode.”

Bonus: Catch Poland at Civic Center Eats on Thursdays. If you don’t make it there, you’ll have more opportunities when Finn’s Manor opens at 29th and Larimer streets this summer: A Taste of the Philippines is one of three permanent carts at the food truck pod. Look for Poland to cook out of a kitchen built into a gutted 1966 Jeep.

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Amanda M. Faison
Amanda M. Faison
Freelance writer Amanda M. Faison spent 20 years at 5280 Magazine, 12 of those as Food Editor.