I am Oaklandish // 7 // Jay-ar Pugao, No Worries Catering

Posted on September 16, 2011

Yesterday you all indulged me in a riff about the oft competing ideals embedded in the culture of our fair city. Today I want to write a bit about ideals that work best in concert. In Oakland, some things just go together: jogging and Lake Merritt, protests and Spoken Word, overcast skies and Oaklandish hoodies. Such is the case with craft of featured culinary artist, Jay-ar Pugao, a lead chef at No Worries Catering.

No Worries Catering is centered around two gastronomic principles: the health benefits of an animal-free diet, and the cultural majesty of traditional Pinoy cuisine. Yeah, so you got it: Vegan Filipino Food. That’s the sort of thing you expect to hear in Oakland, but might not surface in any other part of the country. No Worries mission to meld culturally relevant culinary experiences to a vegan lifestyle makes it the only endeavor of its kind in the entire United States.

Originally an award winning business plan emergent out of Oakland High in 1998, No Worries Catering has grown from a small business to a highly sought after catering company, serving non-profit, corporate and community needs. Jay-ar has catered a number of events I’ve attended, and I’ve always found myself licking (no, for real, for serious) licking the bottom of the plate when I finish. (If you shop at Whole Foods anywhere in the Bay Area, you may have seen Jay-ar’s wares on the shelf there).

In June of 2011, after much anticipation, the doors of No Worries opened for the first time at their eat-in location in Downtown Oakland. In an attempt to build capacity and lessen their carbon footprint, the No Worries staff is transitioning into the mobile catering truck industry. Here’s Chef Jay-ar (joined by his business partners Jasper Pugao and Gregory Manalo) talking about the major changes to No Worries offerings.

No Worries – Food Truck Transition from Gregory Manalo on Vimeo.

I also thought I’d share a video of Jay-ar making a traditional Filipino dish, Pancit — just so you get a little feel for the flavor of his palate and the flavor of his being.

No Worries Catering – Vegetarian Pancit from Gregory Manalo on Vimeo.

Yeah, you liked that part towards the end with the nod to Unk, didn’t you? Don’t lie. I’ve seen Mr. Pugao on a dance floor, and trust me, he ain’t nothing to eff with. Jay-ar, just as every person honored in this “I Am Oaklandish Series”, is invited to come and cop his free, limited edition tee shirt at the October 7th festivities. Part of me is hoping, deep down in side, that Jay-ar and the new rig will be out front of the shop, slanging the finest in Vegan Filipino cuisine. If not, you can follow No Worries on twitter, and stay abreast of where the truck’ll be. @noworriescatering will get you there. Or you can hit the website at: FilipinoVeganFood.com. Thank You, Jay-ar and No Worries Catering, for making Oakland edible.

This blog is brought to you, in part, by local textile and cultural purveyors, Oaklandish. Oaklandish will be throwing a party on the 1st Friday in October at their new Downtown Oakland store. Everyone I profile is invited to attend as an honored guest and will receive a limited edition “I AM OAKLANDISH” t-shirt. In a city of roughly 500,000 residents, there’s no way I can cover everyone or everything, but I’ll do my best to rep a cross section of folks that reflect our city’s varied perspectives and populations. Also, it is important to note that none of the honorees know that they’re being highlighted until the blog post is up, because surprises are sometimes fun, cuzzo. This means that some folks profiled might not closely align themselves with Oaklandish — and that’s fine by me — I mean no ill intent, nor make any assumptions — just want to shout out some folks who make a real impact on the world, from this pearl of a city on the East Side of the Bay.

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