Hello, I’d first like to introduce myself. My name is Irish 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 dad is from Cagayan de Oro and my mom is from Davao City. Both of them moved to Manila, 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 born in 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’s 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. 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)
By the way my dad 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 chicken curry for him and he just let me do it on my own. I just asked him what the ingredients were. It was a failure. 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. Also that was my mom’s dream for me. So I finished my course but after I graduated I realized that it was not for me.
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. I hadn’t met any Filipinos yet but thanks to Facebook I got connected to the Filipino Community. I met friends and I met David Ferrel who had his Rice and Roll Food Truck. The first time I actually met him was at the Donelson farmers market. I was really excited knowing that there’s a filipino food truck. 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 for different companies and it didn’t really make me happy. It is important for me that I am happy with what I am doing. It’s healthier for your life. There’s always stress but you know you love what you’re doing. That matters to me. Love what you’re doing!
I had never baked in my life until I came here. I started baking for my husband and he said hey! We can sell this! My husband has been very supportive in everything that I want to do. My happiness is what matters for him and I am a lucky girl right here. He’s such a great husband y’all! (smiley) So we started a little business called Baked by Irish. We sold cookies online and my specialties are coconut macaroons and chocolate crinkles. We started catering to my fellow filipino at our church. I realized how much it makes me happy to bring happiness to the people I cook for. Their compliments are music to my ears. Their words encouraged me because I could see how much happiness my filipino cooking brought to them. It reminds them of that same feeling I get of being home. It really is priceless. My goal also is to cater and offer the experience of authentic filipino food for people here in Nashville and– hopefully, eventually–across America.
After all the words of encouragement of the support from my family they want me to take it to the next level. My husband and I started a catering company called Manila Skillet. We have been catering since 2016. My food is not just about “I like to cook” it is made with passion because I put my whole heart every dish i create. I want everyone who tries my food to taste the passion. (heart heart)
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. 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.
I am proud to introduce my culture.
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 on 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.
I am also selling my specialties online, Wherever you are in US bound you can still support us! Thank you so much and God bless everyone!