Rising Star Chef Ellie Tiglao of Tanám - Biography

Somerville, MA

August 2020

Californian Ellie Tiglao adores bringing people together through food. Her parents, both Filipino immigrants, took her on regular trips to the Tagalog region, where she fell in love with Kamayan feasts. In 2003, Tiglao attended the University of California, Riverside, where she received degrees in art history and neuroscience in 2009. A research technology job at the Massachusetts General Hospital brought Tiglao to Boston in 2010. On the weekends, she would host Kamayan-inspired communal dinners, often featuring Senryu Taiko performances, Tiglao’s Japanese drumming group. These dinners shaped the Olio Culinary Collective, Tiglao’s community-focused co-op and catering company founded in 2013. 

While operating Olio, Tiglao began work as a program director at East Meets West bookstore and, in addition, started consulting for Jane Doe Inc. events in 2015. Committed to cooking full-time as a personal chef at McLean Hospital in Lincoln in 2016. Meanwhile, Tiglao and her brother, RJ, started Kulinarya, a dual coast pop-up dinner series in Boston and San Francisco featuring Filipinx-American cuisine. When a space opened up in Somerville's Bow Market, Tiglao saw the opportunity to give Olio and Kulinarya a permanent home with a new name, Tanám.

Tiglao, Chef Sāsha Coleman, and Bar Director Kyisha Davenport opened Tanám in 2019, with Coleman as chef and kitchen manager. The intimate Filipinx-American restaurant is focused on culture, storytelling, and guest experience. In addition to their à la carte menu, they have biweekly 5-course storytelling dinners and kamayan “eat with your hands” feasts. The Infatuation named Tanám one of 2019’s “Best New Restaurants,” The Boston Globe named it “Concept of the Year,” and Eater Boston honored it with the title of “Restaurant of the Year.”