Food has been an important part of Mia Estolano-Levert’s life for as long as she can remember. As a toddler, she would help her grandma make meals from scratch in their home kitchen. When she was old enough to cross the street, her mother sent her to the market to pick up fresh fish. She has vivid childhood memories of watching her grandmother peeling handfuls of garlic while smoking a cigarette.
It’s no wonder why the vivacious Prairieville home cook began sharing cooking tips and recipes on social media in 2018. After moving from the Philippines to Louisiana in 2017, she missed the cuisine from her homeland. She began making Filipino dishes and sharing images on Facebook. As her online following grew, she started posting recipes on Instagram and launched her blog in July 2020.
“I hate to call them followers, because they’re my friends,” Estolano-Levert says about her social media audience, clutching her hands to her heart.The 42-year-old is just as engaging online as she is in person.
Her big personality translates through her energetic videos and thoughtful responses to her followers. She shares recipes, food tips and kitchen hacks on Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, YouTube and her website. Her posts include everything from how to make fragrant rice to the anatomy of a charcuterie board.
It’s not all Filipino dishes on Estolano-Levert’s blog, though. She enjoys exploring foods from other regions. Recipes on her blog include tres leches ube champorado (rice porridge) with crispy dried squid; ramen eggs; balsamic chicken and pork adobo; turmeric rice; and Ligurian focaccia. She enjoys learning about the history of dishes, making them as true to their origins as possible and sharing the results with her friends, husband and neighbors.
“I really want Filipino cuisine to have a bigger space in the global food scene,” Estolano-Levert says. “There’s Thai, Vietnamese, Indian and Chinese, but you don’t often see traditional Filipino dishes. We are more than our street food.” bewithmia.com
This article was originally published in the February 2021 issue of 225 magazine.