Nicole Ponseca is the founder and creative director of Maharlika and Jeepney restaurants. A native of San Diego, Ponseca moved to New York City to pursue a career in advertising at Saatchi & Saatchi. It was during this time while trying to find authentic Filipino food in Manhattan that she found her true calling. Together with skilled chef Miguel Trinidad, she opened Maharlika in New York City’s East Village in 2011 and Jeepney one year later. Both restaurants are recognized by critics and top publications as Filipino trendsetters. Ponseca is a motivational speaker for young Filipino adults and an active fund-raiser for charities in the Philippines, and she represented Filipino American leaders during the Obama administration.