When we want a taste of some of our favorite foods from abroad, we may go to our usual standbys—the places we discovered by chance while driving around the city.
Some of these places are recommendations from foodie friends, if we are so lucky, but at times it can be difficult to find new places for the discerning palate. Enter Gallafe
, a blend of a food photo gallery and aspiring cafe.
Local artist and educator Zyra Castillo is the mind behind Gallafe. She says “It started out as a blog then an instagram account. Different people kept asking me where they could find different ethnic food restaurants. I decided to finally make a blog to feature different places I would visit. A couple years ago, a friend and I hosted a big Filipino cookout. We roasted a pig, and had a large spread of Filipino food. We had a lot of positive feedback, asking where they could find Filipino food. That's when I starting taking the idea of owning a restaurant more seriously.” Having decided to keep honing her craft a bit longer before opening up a brick and mortar location, she has moved onto bringing more cultural food events to Grand Rapids.
Castillo adds “During that time, I also started going to Kultura Festival in Chicago, and was inspired by how they put together their programming and celebrated culture through cuisine.
I'm also aware that as a small city, we do not have a lot of exposure or competition. I want to be part of what drives some of that change. As well as set a precedence for my food heritage before someone else comes in and colonizes my food.”
Gallafe has since been molding its brand and putting on events as Castillo tells us, “This past spring, Gallafe threw a small event at Mexicains San Frontieres to educate about Filipino cuisine. It was to raise money to help with expenses for Filipino Artist Kristian Kabuay for the Asian Festival.”
With so much momentum being carried into the next year, we asked Castillo what is on the horizon for Gallafe she told us, “The future of Gallafe would be to expand its online presence and have more posts related to food culture, asides from just images. I would like to do more collaborations with artists and other areas of community for cultural and educational events.”
Finally, we asked Castillo if she could share with us a shortlist of the Asian restaurants that she frequents and has gotten to know from her work in organizing this past June’s Grand Rapid’s first Asian Festival.
Below are some of the restaurants that Grand Rapids offers.
Wei Wei Palace
Pho Soc Trang
Palace of India
Seoul Market Cafe
You can find Gallafe online here
. Don’t see your favorite place? Let us know in the comments!
Ken Miguel-Cipriano is Rapid Growth’s innovation and jobs editor. To reach Ken, you can email [email protected] or follow him on Twitter and Instagram.