Chef Waya Araos-Wijangco and her Gourmet Gypsy team preparing meals for various communities.
Food & Drink Features

How one intrepid chef and her team are helping feed Filipino frontliners in need

Chef Waya Araos-Wijangco is no stranger to crises, and has mobilized yet again to prepare meals for the medical heroes at the frontline of the war against COVID-19. By MARILEN FONTANILLA
| Apr 02 2020

In the span of a few weeks, COVID-19 has brought everything and almost everyone to a standstill, with citizens under enhanced community quarantine, and malls, restaurants, and hotels closed down. In the midst of all of this, while we contend with the ongoing pandemic, kind souls in the food community are looking for ways to support health workers, hospital frontliners, and displaced communities, offering hope and buoying their spirits as they face a few more weeks of the lockdown.

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One such kind soul is Chef Waya Araos-Wijangco of Gourmet Gypsy Art CafĂ© and Open Hand School who immediately activated her kitchen and crew. “We have always worked with different groups spearheading relief operations whenever there is a disaster,” Chef Waya shares. When Taal Volcano erupted in January, her team was also involved with a mobile kitchen that helped serve the evacuees in Batangas.

Gourmet Gypsy partnered with the UP Foundation, Franco’s Friends, and Myron’s to provide meals for hospital workers.

“For the COVID-19 situation, we are assisting RockEd Frontline Feeders and SalamatPHHealthWorkers by providing meals and PPEs to hospital workers. We have also added the Philippine Genome Center whose staff are locked in so they can keep working on the test kit. We are also supplying some food to nearby barangays of Krus na Ligas and UP Campus,” she volunteers. More information on SalamatPHHealthWorkers can be found at

According to Chef Waya’s March 17 FB post, “In partnership with #SalamatPHHealthcareHeroes, we cooked and prepared 350 meals for hospital workers of the Lung Center, Heart Center, NKTI, EAMC, and QMMC.”

Gourmet Gypsy also helps provide meals to medical frontliners through Frontline Feeders that handles several hospitals in Metro Manila and surrounding areas.

“We are only operating from (our kitchen in) Maginhawa,” Chef Waya confirms, regarding food handling concerns. “We locked down with our staff so we can protect the integrity of the food we serve. We have a strict no-contact delivery and pickup protocols to protect us from infection, and to keep the food from becoming the vector of infection.”

The Gourmet Gypsy team busy preparing packed meals.
Sending packed meals to hospitals.

In one post, she shared some notes for creating a lockdown kitchen. “We understood that we are dealing with a different kind of crisis so we planned early on how to go about it. I want to share the things we considered and did for our kitchen so other people planning to put up kitchens for community feeding can use some or all of the practices we put in place.”

Some measures the Gourmet Gypsy team have put in place, including clear signage on pickup and delivery procedures.

Chef Waya’s complete kitchen notes on how to set up a community kitchen properly.

“We are committed to this protocol because community kitchens are super important now, and once we get compromised we have to shut the whole operation down. We deliver to frontliners and communities and we don’t want our food to be the vector of infection,” she adds.

As her kitchen continues to prepare meals, Chef Waya implores, “We need cooking ingredients such as rice, meat, fish, chicken, condiments, cooking oil, and packaging materials. Cash donations are accepted too.”


Donations in kind can be delivered directly to the Gourmet Gypsy kitchen at 28 Maginhawa Street, UP Village, Quezon City through Lalamove, Grab, or HappyMove. To coordinate, contact Chef Waya at (0920) 989-0227