Mentor Mom

By Erin Lettera | Kim Van Liefferinge


Erin Lettera
Kim Van Liefferinge

Felicidad Jurado (Mom, right)
Born and raised in Cagayan, northern Philippines 
Wearer of Many Hats, Ramenwell, San Francisco
Ideas, solutions, and hospitality specialist; butcher; prep cook; backup dishwasher; hype-woman  

Harold Jurado (Son, left)
Born and raised in Chicago
Chef/Proprietor, Ramenwell, San Francisco 
Chicago Rising Star Chef, 2015, Yusho

I come from a big family. I’m one of ten children and we always had extended family living with us. Back then we had to cook all our meals. So, I started cooking and baking at the age of 10. I then earned a Bachelor of Science in food and nutrition and started my professional career as a dietitian. I continued to cook and study when I had my own family, including graduating from culinary school in Chicago.

I was raised in the industry, always accompanying my mother at her restaurant. I would play in the back with my cousins, while she and her sisters worked. Occasionally, I would sleep on the 50-pound bags of flour. As I grew up, I helped serve and take orders at the register. Per my mom’s suggestion, I went to culinary school in Chicago.   

I worked for a number of years in restaurants at the Hyatt and Marriott. I opened my own restaurant and bakery in 1989, where we served Filipino food and created five-foot-tall wedding cakes. In 2001, I opened a second restaurant, where I combined my European baking background with Filipino native desserts.

In 2010, through my first restaurant job, I fell into ramen, grew a following, and focused on ramen at Yusho. Then I was hired by Google to open their noodle focused cafe in Mountain View, California. After that I decided to open Ramenwell in San Francisco.

I’m primarily a consultant at Ramenwell. It’s always beneficial to have others to ask for perspective or advice. Nobody will be more straightforward with you than your own mother. I also occasionally get in the kitchen to work the line or to offer my own expertise.

Originally, I didn't foresee involvement from my mom. She would visit to escape the harsh Chicago winter. Then we decided to collaborate on a Filipino menu for Ramenwell, which we’re continuing with a quick service Filipino lunch. But with all her traveling to visit my siblings, we’re taking our time. 
Our relationship has definitely gotten stronger working together. There is a camaraderie because we both grew up cooking and we both have our own careers. I’m proud of the chef Harold has become. 

I cherish the moments we share in the kitchen. I know I’ll look back upon these days with even greater admiration for my mother. We understand each other. the most. Talking to my mom about business strengthens our bond. It’s a cliché, but I see myself becoming my mother, and I’m ok with that. I’d love to open up another Ramenwell, focusing on Filipino Food. I’m trying to limit her involvement, but she keeps finding her way into the kitchen. She has great insight and decades of experience, and it’s hard to say no to your mother. 

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