Sharwin Tee

"Curiosity Got The Chef" host says,"I think every great dish begins with a simple question: 'What if?'" Here, he shares where he gets the freshest ingredients.

March 21, 2012 | by Nikki Constantino

The chef and host of Curiosity Got The Chef, a new culinary TV show, says, "I think every great dish begins with a simple question: 'What if?'" Here, he shares where he gets the freshest ingredients.
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Where do you like to do your grocery shopping?
I usually get my groceries and vegetables from the weekend market in Northeast Greenhills, since it’s close to where I live. Sometimes I also visit Mercato Centrale for inspiration and get veggies from my friend at Herbana Farms. They’re my trusted source for organic produce.

What are the mainstays in your fridge or pantry?
Of course, any chef worth his salt will have unsalted butter and bacon in the fridge all the time. Butter and bacon make everything great! I also make sure I always have Spanish chorizo—it’s my favorite ingredient. I always have good quality beef, suka sa niyog, olive oil, eggs, bagoong, pork floss, pimenton, and garlic. These are ingredients I use frequently so I always have them around. I also keep good quality, spicy hotdogs, which serve as† a quick breakfast for me.

If a friend were to drop by your house unannounced, what can you instantly whip up?
For breakfast or merienda, I can prepare for them my super quick Ultimate Scrambled Eggs with Pork Floss. For lunch or dinner, maybe a salpicao or my Roasted Fish Fillet with Malunggay Crust. Both dishes take very little time to prepare and are very low maintenance.

What kind of cuisine do you enjoy? How do you recreate it at home?
I love Filipino cuisine and that's why I focus on it. I always have the most basic and common Pinoy ingredients at hand. I always get bagoong, suka sa niyog, pork belly and tenderloin, beef tenderloin and short plate, garlic, coconut milk, some local cheese from Malagos Farmhouse, and lemongrass. With these, I create Filipino-inspired dishes.

What specialty food stores do you frequent and what do you buy there?
Specialty food shops are like amusement parks for me. I try and visit all of them, especially the ones close to me, like Santis and Terry Selection, which I check out weekly. From Santis, I usually grab some chorizo, European sausages, and Parmesan cheese. From Terry’s, usually my pimenton, Manchego cheese, and jamon serrano.

What food items should aspiring cooks always have in their kitchen?
I think everyone should always have eggs, a host of herbs and spices, fresh vegetables, butter, and bacon in their kitchen pantry. Eggs are very versatile† and they are needed in tons of recipes. Herbs and spices—plenty of them—encourages cooks to experiment with flavors and combinations, which will lead to new and exciting recipes. Fresh vegetables, meanwhile, add tons of texture and color to many dishes. Butter and bacon, enough said.


Curiosity Got The Chef airs every Wednesday, 9:30 p.m., on The Lifestyle Network.
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Photograph courtesy of The Lifestyle Network and Ria Regino

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