For just over six months OzHarvest chef Monica Luppi has been running a kitchen pop-up called Lulu's in inner west bars and breweries, including Young Henrys and The Grifter Brewing Company.

Now, Newtown’s The Midnight Special – one of the pop-up’s original stomping grounds – will be hosting Lulu’s for a whole month (it was only there for 10 days the first time around), which specialises in regional American fare.

“A lot of Aussies think of the US as burgers, barbeques and tacos, but it’s more than that,” she says, having made it her mission to educate people about American food.

This month, she’ll serve Californian-style tamales (steamed parcels of corn dough) with the choice of slow-cooked pork shoulder, veggie and cheese, or sweet potato for vegans – all topped with salsa or pickles.

“What I’m making is great food that people haven’t had much exposure to yet. It’s also just things I want to eat. I grew up in San Francisco and we had a very specific kind of Mexican food, which is a lot fresher than traditional tamales because there’s pickles and salsa,” says Luppi.

The rest of the menu draws inspiration from her road trips through the US. These include jalapeno-chive hush puppies (golden-fried nuggets of cornbread) and muffaletta, a New Orleans-style Italian sandwich stuffed with meats, cheese, diced olives and pickles.

“I’m just trying to recapture the micro-cultures I’ve come across during my road trips. The food is just so different everywhere you go,” she says.

Luppi’s other mission is to eventually turn Lulu’s into a social-enterprise catering business that can provide jobs to people who need them most. “Food can’t just be food; it has to have a message. It’s not just about selling a product. I feel like what I do should always have a social responsibility behind it.”

In the meantime, she says, it’s about doing things ethically, such as supporting local suppliers including Mr Baillie + Co, The Vege Box, Vannella Cheese, Luxe Bakery and Two Providores – and donating part of the profit to charity.

The Midnight Special will host Lulu’s pop-up from Thursday March 15 to Sunday April 15, Wednesday to Sunday nights.