Get To Know Abi Balingit, Filipino-American Baker-Activist And James Beard Award Nominee baker

Get To Know Abi Balingit, Filipino-American Baker-Activist And James Beard Award Nominee

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Taking desserts to new heights.

Learn a few things about Abi Balingit, eclectic Filipino-American baker, cookbook author, activist, and now James Beard Award nominee!

Related: Let Her Cook: How Abi Marquez Became The Head Chef Of TikTok Food Content

Big things are happening in the Filipino food world. From food-centered series to award nominations, Filipino culinary talent and cuisine are getting highlighted the way they should be.

Twenty-nine-year old Filipino-American baker Abi Balingit, known for her food and recipe content platform The Dusky Kitchen, is one of three Filipino nominees at the James Beard Foundation Awards 2024 for Media. The 2024 Media Awards of the culinary arts organization nominates and awards people for their remarkable contributions to the culinary world through books, broadcast media, and journalism. With her cookbook Mayumu: Filipino American Desserts Remixed, Abi makes her mark in the global culinary landscape—all while championing her own unique identity.

abi balingit Mayumu: Filipino American Desserts Remixed baking baker james beard award cookbook the dusky kitchen

Along with Abi Marquez in the Social Media Account category, and FEATR, a channel from Erwann Heusaff’s The Fat Kid Inside Studios, in the Long Form Visual Media category, Abi Balingit rounds out the Filipino triad with her recipe book nomination. But who exactly is the bright, cheery baker baking her way through life?

SHE WROTE A COOKBOOK

abi balingit Mayumu: Filipino American Desserts Remixed baking baker james beard award cookbook the dusky kitchen

Imagine making your cookbook author debut and immediately getting nominated for one of the most prestigious awards in the culinary world. Abi Balingit doesn’t have to imagine, as her recipe book Mayumu: Filipino American Desserts Remixed got her on the shortlist of the 2024 James Beard Foundation Award Nominees for Baking and Desserts books.

Mayumu—which is the Kapampangan word for sweet—reflects Abi’s creativity and innovation. It’s a collection of fusion desserts, with classic Filipino recipes “remixed” with American influences, like strawberry shortcake sapin-sapin or adobo chocolate chip cookies.

SHE’S SELF TAUGHT

abi balingit Mayumu: Filipino American Desserts Remixed baking baker james beard award cookbook the dusky kitchen

Abi’s baking skills came straight from a love for food and experimentation, but she wasn’t trained professionally. She was inspired by TV shows like Cake Boss, learned recipes from her mom and the internet, and honed her skills by herself over time in Brooklyn, New York, where she’s based. An admitted perfectionist, Abi tirelessly worked on her baking—making treats for her friends and selling them as well. She now passes on her own recipes through her blog and Mayumu.

SHE WORKS IN MEDIA AND MUSIC

abi balingit Mayumu: Filipino American Desserts Remixed baking baker james beard award cookbook the dusky kitchen

Yes, the baker and activist has time for a day job! For years now, Abi has been working in the live music industry, promoting concerts and shows. Once her life shifted during the pandemic, she was able to change things up a little bit, getting to bake more during the day and work on The Dusky Kitchen.

SHE HAS A LOVE-HATE RELATIONSHIP WITH BAKING

abi balingit Mayumu: Filipino American Desserts Remixed baking baker james beard award cookbook the dusky kitchen

Baking didn’t come easy and stick to Abi. Sure, she started when she was young, but her desire to bake was on and off for years, until she lugged her KitchenAid across the country and was inspired to pick it up again—for good this time. She often mentions that she has a love-hate relationship with baking, but her love for it outweighs all the things she hates about it—which comes from her being a perfectionist, since baking requires meticulous detail and can easily not turn out how you expect it to.

SHE’S NOT AFRAID TO BE ECCENTRIC

From her recipes to her fashion, Abi’s all for taking bold, colorful, and eccentric leaps. She mixes everything up, from the dye in her hair to the influences in her recipes. To promote her cookbook, Abi even spelled out MAYUMU in tooth gems across her front teeth! A true creative, her vibrant personality shines through in her art and her baking. The recipes in MAYUMU are the same—brave, imaginative, and excitingly eclectic.

SHE’S AN ACTIVIST

Abi’s known for using her baking superpowers for good. Aside from using her skills to help her community by donating the proceeds of her famed pasalubong treat boxes to COVID-19 crisis support and mutual aid, she’s also baked for events and organizations that championed different causes. Abi finds even the most minute but impactful ways to advocate for justice and representation, even noting to support the HarperCollins Union beside a link to her cookbook on her website.

She’s also very vocal about social issues and subject matters on culture and identity, the way she makes an impact going beyond food. On Filipino-American History Month, Abi posted, “I hope that others in the diaspora see that uplifting those fighting against imperialism, oppression, and colonialism is a shared battle that lasts longer than just October, no matter what part of the world we’re in.” Outspoken queen.

CULTURE, IDENTITY, AND COMMUNITY ARE IMPORTANT TO HER

Abi acknowledges her privilege, the complexities in her heritage, and the implications of living in the melting pot of culture that is America. Though deeply connected to the Philippines, Abi describes her relationship with her homeland as one marked with yearning—yearning for knowing what it would have been like had the country not been colonized or what it would be like to have lived there.

“I have grown up with so much privilege as an American citizen, and I have grown to hate the havoc this country has wrought on the motherland,” Abi divulges in an interview. “I love the Philippines and want to do more on educating myself on its history and helping people there dealing with poverty, corruption, and increasing infringements on their democracy.”

The food and desserts Abi makes deepens her connection to her heritage and culture, and helps her connect with her community, something she’s always championed. With her new cookbook, a James Beard Award nomination, and rising success, Abi Balingit is bringing Filipino cuisine to new heights, while still being grounded in her identity. After all, food is sweeter with a taste of home.

Images from @theduskykitchen on Instagram.

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