It isn't often that you stumble upon a Peruvian kitchen in a school bus. Killa Wasi has brought just that to Austin.
Headed up by Kati Luedecke (Head Chef) and Eva Billingsley (Events/Marketing/Outreach), the unique food concept has been around for a little less of a year, boasting a menu full of colorful veggies, healthy grains, rich meats and an assortment of flavors, staying true to the Peruvian tradition with a bit of a Texas flare.
Space 24 Twenty has the honor of hosting these fine ladies for a pop-up CHIFA Feast this coming Thursday from 7-10pm, offering a one-of-a-kind menu in a beautifully lit space (read more below!). If you haven't yet purchased a ticket, there's still time! Find event info and ticket information here.
First, let’s hear more on both of your backgrounds. Had you always planned on pursuing food and if not, what was the turning point?
KATI: I have always had a passion for cooking, but never thought I would pursue it as a career until I moved to Austin. I come from family of wonderful cooks, and have always had a love for food -- so when it came time to choose a major in college, I panicked and went to culinary school. One of the most impulsive, and best decisions I've made.
EVA: Mine is sort of the opposite of Kati. I came from a family of, eh, a very meat and potatoes Canadian family. So I've always wanted to see what else was out there. I'm an adventitious eater. I fell into food service after taking a break from movie production stuff. I wanted to apply my organization and people skills into a new job, so managing and waiting tables worked out. But after talking with Kati about the kind of person she needed for catering/event planning and eventually the food bus, I knew I could truly apply my love of organizing/hosting/planning into an actual career- having a job based on things I actually enjoy. Who knew? And working with a company from the very beginning, behind a chef and food I believe in- well it's just been fulfilling.
What are some of the favorite items from your menu?
KATI: All of the menu items are inspired and pay homage to Chef's that I have met and experiences that I've had while I was in Peru. The Doña Lima is a play on one of my favorite sandwiches that I had in Barranco -- and we utilize Central Texas ingredients to make it our own. On the brunch menu -- our Boar Benedicto is absolutely killer. We used locally sourced boar, yuccitas as a base instead of bread, and top it off with five minute eggs and Huancaína (Traditional spicy cheese sauce) hollandaise.
EVA: Favorite sandwich on the lunch menu is the Doña Lima. Sweet and savory, the bread is fluffy and crunchy at the same time. For catering and events we do these Quinotto Bites, the 'cakes' are made of risotto and quinoa and are soft but seared. With a mix of ricoto peppered goat cheese piped on top. What!?
Peruvian cuisine is definitely a newer genre for Austin. How did the idea for Killa Wasi come about (and where does the name come from)?
KATI: I traveled to Peru by chance four years ago, and absolutely fell in love with the food and the culture. Peruvians make you feel like you are part of the family. Incredibly hospitable, and will never let you go hungry -- very much like Texans. Like Lima, Austin has been influenced by many of the same cultures, including Spanish, Moorish, and Chinese- which is why Peruvian food is a unique yet obvious cuisine to fuse with the Austin food scene. From there, I decided that I wanted my venture to reflect my values as a woman in the service industry, and Killa Wasi was born. Mama Killa -- the Incan goddess of the moon who serves as the defender of women, and Wasi which means house in Quechua (representing the southern hospitality we all know and love).
Tell us more about the CHIFA concept, and what Peruvian and Chinese flavors have to do with each other. What can we expect from this Thursday’s menu?
KATI: The thing that strikes you most about Lima, is the number of Chinese restaurants, but if you know the history of Chinese immigrants brought over as laborers -- that wouldn't shock you too much. What is a surprise is the incredible mix of flavors that you get with Peruvian Chifa -- distinct because of it's Peruvian influences. The use of vegetables and fruits from the Amazon such as pineapples and bananas, as well as potatoes from the Andes serve as an amazing base for a unique cuisine. Our menu Thursday will go a step further with Texas ingredients in traditional Chifa inspired recipes.
Any hopes for expansion from your truck to a brick and mortar in the coming future?
KATI: We are in the process of growing our catering department, and we definitely hope to expand in the future.
Follow Killa Wasi's journey here