At Kensington’s Flow State, Filipino sweets power a pastry chef’s personal journey

Honestly, I started Filipino Friday
because I struggle with my own cultural identity, and I think that my experience
isn’t that unique. I’m Melanie Diamond-Manlusoc I’m the chef and co-owner of Flow
State Coffee Bar. Flow State is a coffee shop, a working space, and a gelateria.
For Filipino Friday, usually I try to take something that I already know that
I love and then just kind of trying to incorporate a Filipino flavor into it.
It’s a lot of mixing of, you know, European baking techniques plus you know
whatever flavors that I love that kind of make up who I am.
I guess the pastry case is kind of like the United Nations of pastry in there. I
went to a French culinary school so I’m French-trained but then when I worked in
restaurants, I worked in new American restaurants, I worked in a Japanese
restaurant, and then also on top of that I’m a Midwesterner, I’m from
Michigan, so a lot of the flavors that I love come from there. But then also on
top of that I’m Filipino, so I have all of those tropical flavors that go in
into the pastries that I make. Basically every Thursday, there’s a lot of
like personal anxiety behind it and then Friday comes and like if we only
sell like a few of them then I’m like, oh I am a fraud. But sometimes we’ll sell
like all of them I’ll be like all right, you know, we’re getting somewhere.
The same way I had to come out as being queer when I was like a 12-year-old, I
feel like I’m coming out as as being Filipino. Here I am, a 40-year-old woman
and I’m realizing like through my culinary career that I’m influenced a
lot more from my Filipino culture than I allowed myself to admit to myself. So now
I’m like okay maybe once a week I can let myself be Filipino, and like,
figure out what does that mean to me.

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