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Family food stall knocks it out of the park

Home Plate serves up kelaguen, just like Mom used to make

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Family food stall knocks it out of the park

GRILLING: The chicken is grilled every day in the afternoon for the following day's kelaguen. Norman M. Taruc/The Guam Daily Post

Family food stall knocks it out of the park

HOME TEAM: The team at Home Plate is, from left, Ethan Acfalle, owner's cousin; Sheila Untalan, Ethan's girlfriend; Andrew Arce, owner; Taijah Arce, owner's daughter; Josiah Santos, owner's nephew. Norman M. Taruc/The Guam Daily Post

For Andrew Arce, kelaguen represents more than a business, it's a nostalgic link to a lifetime of family memories, and the cooking process is an homage to his family and late mother, Christine Arce Villagomez.

"As far as the process goes, nothing has changed from doing it at home for family events and parties, moving to commercial business," he said. "It's exactly the same."

Home Plate is the kelaguen specialty shop now operated by Arce and his team from a stall at the Chamorro Village, next to Asu Smokehouse. "We specialize in kelaguen, all different kinds, from chicken to octopus," said Arce.

Family food stall knocks it out of the park

OCTOPUS KELAGUEN: Octopus kelaguen is a regular item on the Home Plate menu. Norman M. Taruc/The Guam Daily Post

Family food stall knocks it out of the park

BEEF KELAGUEN: The peppers in the Home Plate kelaguen, like this beef preparation, are easy to pick out if you want to downgrade the spice factor. Norman M. Taruc/The Guam Daily Post

Even though the business opened this year in mid-May, Arce started making notes formulating the project as early as 2012.

"When I was growing up and there was a family event or function, my mom always volunteered the kelaguen," recalled Arce.

Family food stall knocks it out of the park

CHICKEN KELAGUEN: The chicken kelaguen is made with plenty of grated coconut and has a satisfying, tart flavor. Norman M. Taruc/The Guam Daily Post

Family food stall knocks it out of the park

FISH KELAGUEN: The Home Plate fish kelaguen is quickly developing into a customer favorite. Norman M. Taruc/The Guam Daily Post

Five boys in the house and a stepdad were all pressed into service for the many stages of preparing the iconic island classic. The fire that grills the chicken is still started with locally sourced wood to barbecue the meat every afternoon. Four employees, who happen to be family members, are always chopping something in the tight quarters of the kitchen at Chamorro Village. Beef, grilled chicken, green onions – with kelaguen there is always something that needs to be chopped.

Family food stall knocks it out of the park

FINGER STEAK: This chicken kelaguen bowl has been paired with red rice and grilled finger steak for $12. Norman M. Taruc/The Guam Daily Post

Home Plate serves six types of kelaguen: chicken, beef, fish, shrimp, octopus and hokkigai clam. The kelaguen is delivered several ways, one of which is the traditional wrap, which Arce has named a "Bat" as in baseball bat.

The Bat is a large tortilla with a generous amount of kelaguen of your choice, wrapped with red rice.

Bowls of kelaguen are served with your choice of hot red or white rice, and can be paired with barbecued finger steak or CHamoru sausage.

A Base is the name for the kelaguen as an appetizer, or chesa style, served with corn chips – a dish meant to be shared.

Made with love

"I've been surprised at the response, but business has been going good. I was worried because everyone does kelaguen," said Arce.

"We barbecued every weekend, and family was always bringing something to kelaguen," he added. "Mixing kelaguen is very nostalgic for me, it brings back a lot of memories. I enjoy the entire process."

"I know it sounds corny, but my mom showed me how to make it with love, keeping your eye out for some coconut hair or gristle that's in the mix, something that's not supposed to be there. That's what she taught me."

Andrew Arce said he left a stable career in sales to pursue a dream and an idea.

Family food stall knocks it out of the park

UP TO BAT: The Bat is a large tortilla stuffed with chicken kelaguen and red rice. Norman M. Taruc/The Guam Daily Post

"The business has definitely changed my life," he said. "I'm more motivated because it's not just about me, but for the team, and I'm fired up and ready to seize the day."

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