Bonita Kitchen opens at Whittier Farmers Market

Bonita Kitchen owner Lenni Canell chats with a customer while her son Matt Graven cooks Filipino eggrolls.

The new Filipino eggrolls at the Whittier Farmers Market come courtesy of Lenni Canell, who is making her mother’s recipe.

“My mother loved to feed people and I love feeding people,” she said. “My problem is I keep giving them away for free.”

She said her mother routinely made 10-course meals, even though Canell was an only child, and opened a café in the 60s in the Hennepin Avenue space where William’s Pub is today.

“I remember lines going out the door,” she said.

She said the lumpia, or eggroll, is a meal in itself, stuffed with pork, shrimp, water chestnuts, mushrooms, cabbage, celery and seasoning, with homemade sweet and sour sauce on the side.

“I like it because it educates people on another culture,” she said.

Family friend Nico Haight brought Filipino mementos to share at the market table. She displayed a statue made from the volcanic ash of the 1991 eruption of Mt. Pinatubo, and a model of the American jeeps left behind in World War II that are still used as public transportation.


Canell’s late mother and father were graduates of the University of Minnesota, and they moved from the Philippines to Minnesota when she was three years old so her father could teach at the university. Bonifacio and Nenita died three months apart, and the shop name is a hybrid of their nicknames.

Bonita Kitchen appears about twice per month at the Whittier Farmers Market, located in the parking lot of Calvary Baptist Church at 2608 Blaisdell every Saturday from 8:30 a.m.-1 p.m.