From being a Chinese restaurant houseboy, cooking for the King of Oman to putting up his own culinary school, see how else this chef can surprise you.By: Jing Lejano
This TV chef's first job was as a houseboy at a Chinese restaurant in downtown Manila. He would later work in Europe and America, eventually becoming the personal chef of the King of Oman. Back in Manila, he worked at the Manila Diamond Hotel for 11 years before putting up his own culinary school, CLICKS.
"Ako po’y hindi nakapag-aral. Graduate ako ng UE: University of Experience," says Chef Boy.
Where do you do your grocery shopping?
Normally, kapag supermarket, sa SM Dasmariñas kasi malapit ako doon. Andun lahat. Minsan kasi sa ibang [supermarket], may mga kulang lalo na sa Japanese ingredients. Sa SM, complete talaga.
How would you describe your cooking style?
It's based on my experience cooking in Europe, parang pinagsama-sama ko. I’ve been cooking for 40 years. I started when I was 16—from houseboy to steward to cook helper to chef.
Did you ever encounter any famous personalities in your stint abroad?
I served Queen Elizabeth and Princess Diana. Maganda talaga. Sabi niya, “I love my poached egg and a little salad.” Si Queen Elizabeth, “I love roasted lamb rack with mint jelly sauce.”
Did you study as you went along?
Ay, napakagandang tanong! Ako po’y hindi nakapag-aral. Graduate ako ng UE: University of Experience.
What do you like cooking at home?
Sa house, native food like labwa. Mayroon siyang sari-saring gulay—kamote, gabi, saging, okra, saluyot. Ilaga mo lang. Tapos ’yung galunggong, tanggalan mo ng buto at isama mo. Healthy! Kaya siguro sa edad ko, maliksi pa akong kumilos. Gusto ko ganun kasi tabing-dagat ako pinanganak. Wala naman kaming manok noong araw eh. Gulay, isda, yun lang.
What's always in your refrigerator?
May atsara ako doon. Galunggong at salmon—madali kasing lutuin. Kapag may bisita ako, almon ang niluluto ko with lemon butter sauce. Kapag kami-kami lang, galunggong lang, okay na. Kasi may malunggay akong tanim sa bahay. Monggo, talbos, ganun lang ka-simple.
What is your favorite ingredient?
When I cook, there is always wine involved, white wine, and brandy. Kaya sa show ko, laging may lumiliyab. That's how you enhance the flavor of your food. Puwede nga lambanog. Hindi lang tayo sanay sa ating kultura na pagsinabing adobo, wala na. Puwede naming dagdagan ng lambanog o tuba. In China, without Chinese wine, they cannot cook lapu-lapu for Steamed Lapu-lapu. In Japan, there is sake. Kapag binabad ang isda, pork, or beef, lalambot ’yun at sasarap kasi fermented sa alak.
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