I was seven years old when my father asked me what I wanted to to do when I grew up. I replied ”Gusto naku malibot ang tibook kalibuyan og makakaon og mga lami na pagkaon» because that’s how to say ”I want to travel the world and eat good food” in the Philippines.
To Filipinos, food is more than just one of life’s pleasures, it is life itself. While a Catalan will say ”com va?” or a Frenchman ”ça va?», a Filipino will ask ”have you eaten?”. Growing up on a rice farm, we were of course surrounded by food, not just the rice but the frogs that we chased for dinner, or crabs from the beach. I learnt from an early age, the wonder of transforming something caught in a field to a delicious meal.
It wasn’t until I was 25 that life gave me the opportunity to start my culinary career. After finishing top of my class in culinary school, I was offered to stage at the owner’s fine dining restaurant and I haven’t left the kitchen since. Still in Manila, I moved to Vask which offered a combination of traditional País Vasco cuisine and modern interpretations of Filipino classics. I was then offered to be one of the founding brigade in Nobu Manila. Nobu particularly taught me the importance of precision and finesse in both cooking and presentation. There are few thing in life that inspire me more than to watch and learn from a sushi master as he carefully transforms a whole tuna into its various dishes, where every stroke of the knife is practised and perfected to honour the ingredient and present it to its maximum potential.
Now my journey has brought me to Europe and particularly Spain. The quality of the produce here is truly inspirational, for example, Nobu restaurants worldwide source their Tuna from here in Catalunya. However, my heart still remembers the Asian flavours of my childhood; calamansi, galangal, bagoong and patis. Hopefully I’ll be able to share some of my stories and flavours with you at AQ as the little girl travels the world and eats good food.