Our "fiesta", as we call it in Tagalog, or "feast" - a celebration in which all the families in the community cook their favourite local dishes, such as seafood paella, and other grilled seafood items like spanner crabs, tiger prawns, clams and other local fishes.
What's the most challenging part of your job?
Managing the supply chain, especially in this part of the world, as the availability of ingredients plays a crucial part in the making of a dish. In addition, all ingredients must be in accordance with the municipality's rules.
Do you have a personal mantra or motto that drives the way you cook food?
"Keep the flavours in harmony." I want my food to feel like music playing in your mouth, as soon as it touches your palate. The blend of flavours that nourishes your body and fulfils all your cravings.
If you could cook for a high-profile personality, who would it be and what would you serve them?
I would choose the one I look up to, Chef Gordon Ramsay, and I would cook a succulent mud crab curry with coconut milk, which will (hopefully) please his sophisticated palate and perfectionist eye for detail. Getting his approval for this dish would be a dream come true for me.
How often do you eat out? What's your favourite place around town?
I go out at least twice a month and love to visit Dampa Seafood Grill and Shogun, a Filipino and Korean restaurant, respectively - both in Dubai. Dampa, which serves fresh seafood dishes, reminds me of my hometown, while Shogun serves authentic Korean dishes that I love.
After cooking all day, do you cook for yourself at home too?
I do. Home-cooked meals are the best. You can eat whatever you fancy and cook them just the way you like.
You're asked to serve an unusual dish - what would it be?
Fish intestine ceviche. This unusual dish is being served in my local hometown; I think it would be a hit and would be loved by many here too.
Who do you admire most in the culinary world, and why?
Chef Gordon Ramsay - simply because he is a beast in the kitchen, but also has a big heart and is a loving father to his daughters.
Favourite comfort food?
Chocolate ice cream.
One ingredient you can't stand, and why.
Turmeric powder - because of its overpowering smell.
If you could choose a last meal, what would it be?
I'd obviously like to live long and be with my daughters! However, if I had to choose a last meal, I'd opt for grilled parrot fish with green mango and shrimp paste.
Your favourite culinary destination, and why?
Philippines, for sure! With its vast array of ingredients, it would be a culinary haven for chefs everywhere.
- Staff reporter
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