Meet the Fil-Am chef who nixed Ivanka Trump website
CHICAGO—Angela Dimayuga, a Filipino American chef from San Jose, California, is making a name in New York well beyond her celebrated feats in the kitchen. She is now a hot item among her kababayans in the Midwest, thanks to NPR (National Public Radio), which broadcast an interview with her May 2.
Last month, a writer for IvankaTrump.com asked the James Beard Award-nominee Chef Dimayuga, 31, for a “non-political interview.” Surprised and puzzled by the request, Dimayuga eventually turned down the request, and what she wrote on Instagram went viral. Trump’s fans went on the attack.
The April 14 edition of the New York Daily News quoted Dimayuga’s posted response. “Thank you for thinking of me. I’m glad you are a fan of my work so much that you want to provide more visibility for my career to inspire ‘other working women,'” the Brooklyn resident began her message to the freelance reporter.
(Dimayuga) then turned up the heat, saying she didn’t believe the writer’s claim that IvankaTrump.com is a “non-political platform.” “So long as the name Trump is involved, it is political and frankly, an option for the IvankaTrump.com business to make a profit,” she wrote.
“I don’t see anything empowering about defunding Planned Parenthood, barring asylum from women refugees, rolling back safeguards for equal pay, and treating POC/LGBT and the communities that support these groups like second class citizens,” she argued.
“As a queer person of color and daughter of immigrant parents, I am not interested in being profiled as an aspirational figure for those that support a brand and a President that slyly disparages female empowerment,” she said.
“Sharing my story with a brand and family that silences our same voices is futile,” she said. “Thank you for the consideration.”
In an interview with the Daily News April 14, Dimayuga said she considered simply ignoring the inquiry but decided it was a chance to speak up. She said her goal was never to pick a fight by “targeting” the writer or Ivanka.
“My goal was to state where I was coming from and why her brand didn’t align with my views,” Dimayuga said. “There was an opportunity to say why it was weird for them to reach out when there wasn’t any alignment with my values. I felt like it was absolutely necessary to identify why we don’t align.”
Dimayuga opposes much of President Trump’s political platform, like the visa and travel ban for people from certain mostly Muslim countries, and efforts to defund Planned Parenthood.
Despite the negative response from the Trumps’ followers, others’ online and in-person response to Dimayuga’s letter has been overwhelmingly positive, she said.
World-famous chef Anthony Bourdain commented on her Instagram: “My hero!” Major dailies and public television reported favorably on her take on the subject. Dimayuga said she was part of the march in Washington day after Donald Trump was sworn in.
“This is a perfect, professional, thoughtful and powerful response. Well done!” author and YouTube star Paige McKenzie wrote.
“There has been a bit of negative feedback, but only because of how far it’s reached,” Dimayuga told The News.
“That’s kind of how it goes, and I’m okay with that. I didn’t set out to change anyone’s mind. My goal was to just share who I am,” she said.
In another report, it was mentioned that Dimayuga’s Filipino parents worked corporate jobs to send their six kids to private school. They always made time for food, and tied it closely to the idea of family.
That environment fostered Dimayuga’s open mind about food. As a chef in the New York branch of the noted Mission Chinese restaurant, her cuisine often borrows from different cultures and fuses food ideas together. She’s even come to terms with belonging to a category called “fusion,” because she’s realized that’s what American food is at its core.
Furthermore, Catherine Whelan’s article in PRI’s “The World” stated, “Food is a central expression of identity for the chef, just as her note to Ivanka Trump was. And she seems satisfied with her role in leading the way.
“I think what I see is that people are looking for ambassadors and appointing them. And I feel like in a way I’ve been appointed,” Dimayuga said.