Traveling across the globe with a spatula as your passport seems to be a little ambitious and yet a fulfilling job many would kill to have. But for the few who are lucky enough to live the dream, the burden now lies on their shoulders to master that culture, preserve, and hopefully introduce infusions to elevate it.
Chef Tony of Le Charme Hotel in Subic is one of those fortunate enough to embark on a journey solely dedicated to food. With 20 years of experience, this man has been through a lot of plates and in different continents.
At 19 years old, he started learning about food in Japan at a university. There he was able to master the art of sushi-making, learn the language, and understand the Japanese cuisine as well as their lifestyle.
Japanese are known for their immense discipline, and for him, countries should follow their example to be able to succeed.
After Japan, he flew to South Africa where he worked with more Asian cuisine focused on Japanese flavors. And then after three years, he moved to England, lived there for 10 years before going to Greece to work for two years. He now lives in Taiwan.
He has only been in the country for two months but the authenticity of Filipino food already crawled into his heart. He mentioned pork sisig, chicken adobo, and the classic sinigang as his favorites.
Being in the business for that long where you worked with several cuisines, the chef did have some insights about the food here. Filipinos, according to him, cook very salty food and use too much condiments. We serve heaping rice, a surprise to him as he said they don’t normally eat too much carbohydrates.
Funny thing is, the 42-year-old chef serves meals bespoke to people with active lifestyle.
In fact, when Manila Standard visited the approachable 6-footer chef, he offered our team samples of his food that were both healthy and delicious.
For him, cooking is a hobby. That is why he is trying to incorporate health to the dishes he’s cooking. Food should be a lifestyle; it should be clean and sustainable. It is a balance between trying to improve something while retaining its core qualities.
“But we still serve of course the typical American breakfasts and the likes. This is still a family-oriented restaurant,” he said of Le Charme’s house restaurant, Mi Tapas which serves up a Spanish storm with its European-inspired dishes and ambiance.
“I mix and match some food, but I try not to experiment too much. People still have a preferred taste.”
According to Chef Tony, the Philippines welcomes fusion food half-heartedly, noting that for our cuisine to open up to the world, there should be an open arm for new palates.
“People should be more open to new tastes,” he said. “The Filipino people should be more open about trying new dishes.”
But at the end of the day, Chef Tony stands by this idea of his that he should always try the food before serving it to people.
“You should want to eat it yourself first, because if you won’t, no one would.”
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