Hello, I’d first like to introduce myself. My name is Irish Fe Leigh. I was born and raised in the Philippines. The Philippines is made up of thousands of tiny islands and 3 main regions: Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. My parents are from Mindanao, the southern part of the Philippines. My parents are both southern part of Philippines which papa is from Cagayan de Oro and mama was from Davao City. Both of them moved to Manila the capital of Philippines, which is where they met. I was born in Mandaluyong City and we moved to Bulacan, where I grew up.  Even though my parents were from the southern region, they loved to try different dishes from across the country. Foods from Pampangga in the northern part, Bulacan, Batangas, Cebu, etc. They loved to cook and that was probably one of my biggest influences to cook and try different dishes.

My interest in cooking began the first time I tried to cook RICE on the stove. As rice is a staple food most of the filipinos and we eat that with our meat. Its like potatoes and bread here in America. I remember the feeling of excitement while cooking it and watching the water starts to boil. Ahhaha! Second was frying the Tender Juicy hotdog. (Filipinos favorite hotdog) I was like 7. 

My papa is a great cook! My favorite dish that my dad used to make was chicken curry. It’s the best! I remember one time I volunteered to make it and he just let me do it on my own. I just asked him what the ingredients were. It was failed. It wasn’t perfect the way I wanted it to be. So I tried again. I never gave up until I was successful!

When I was in high school and would get together with friends, I always volunteered to cook whatever they requested. Cooking is my passion but my education was different from my passion. I graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Tourism because I wanted to be a flight attendant or a tourist guide. It’s not because I wanted to travel the world it’s because I always thought the flight attendants were beautiful and sophisticated. So I finished my course but after I graduated I realized that it was not for me.

Fast forward, In 2013 I met my husband Lucas and I moved to Nashville, Tennessee. I never thought my destiny would be in America. My Husband is from Mississippi and moved to Nashville for his dream of playing music in 2007. He is the greatest pianist I know. (heart heart heart)

After I moved here, the first 6 months were difficult. I was really home sick. You know the feeling of when you miss home and you want to eat comfort food. Your food makes you happy wherever you are from around the world. It makes you comfortable and feel closer to your home. I know that feeling of happiness that food brings into your life.

At first, I didn’t really know what I was gonna do here. I worked from different companies and it didn’t really makes me happy and it felt like something is missing but I was always good at whatever job I got.

So how the Manila Skillet started?

One day, I cooked filipino dish for my mother-in-law and she loved it. I dont know if she was just being sweet or what? Lol (kidding) I know she was telling the truth. Everything I made for her she loved them. In fact, she was the one who encouraged me that I could sell my food.>>>>

From Designing logo, branding, website etc. My husband helped me.  So we started selling Coconut macaroons, chocolate crinkles online. Then I started selling my food for friends at church and word spread, then I catered to Filipino parties and other special events and etc.

In march 3rd of 2020, we got hit by the tornado and right after that the City declared for a locked down because the whole country hit by the pandemic called corona virus or COVID19. Soon after the tornado

Happened we fixed our house. We thought about add on to the house but instead we sold our house. That was a fast decision. We only had two reasons why we moved, Number 1 reason of us moving is to get closer to family, that time my husband’s mom was sick and we need to be able to see them as often as we could. No.2 Schools, we need a better schools. My husband went to Ole Miss and he always admired the town of Oxford here in Mississippi. So we found a perfect house for us. Location is perfect. As much as we love Nashville it was the time for us to move to a small town. City of Oxford is a place to raise a family. We are in love.

I started working at the Veterans home in the kitchen and entertainment department. I loved working there serving people who served to this country was a great feeling. But my aspiration of serving my food is still hunting me. I want to sell my food!

I made lots of friends from different cultures, Im working part time and help other friend’s businesses. As I’m doing it, Im working on myself too to get back of what I really wanted and love to do. Getting my self ready again, get back on my dreams. Since we moved here I always wanted to be a part of this community and share my culture.

Going back to what I started in Nashville I’d like to continue my dreams and visions. This is my home now and I want to be able to feel this town as my home home by doing what I really love to do. (It took me a while to feel that in Nashville but when I started serving to my fellow filipinos it felt like home to me.

My Immediate family moved to Canada and So I want to start over again, start to feel that this is it, this is my home by doing what I love to do in this town. There may not be a lot of filipinos here but as this town is as diverse as it is, different college students staying here for a little while, this town needs a new taste of culture. I am not catering only to filipinos but I am catering to different cultures in town. As much as they love, Japanese, Chinese, Indian, Mexican, American, Greek, Thai food. Filipino Cuisine is something that this town should try too.

As Philippines is a melting pot in southeast Asia, there’s a lot of flavor influenced by different cuisines as I mentioned above. 

No matter how discouraging this business or this dream could be, I am continuing this dream for me to be able to help others too. By supporting me you’ll be part of this dream to become a reality! (Smiley)

I am currently selling my goodies at the Farmer’s market at Oxford Community Market every Tuesday as an introduction while we are working on our commissary and hoping this year we can fully cater to everyone.

Most of the stuff from our menus are the traditional filipino dish and my personal Favorites!

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Irish Leigh

Owner, Irish Leigh