Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A Fiipino as AFC's next celebrity chef?


When our friends at the Asian Food Channel (AFC) first announced the search for the next AFC celebrity chef a few months back, every foodie in town had their own bets and recommendations. I certainly had a couple of people I wanted to recommend to enter, and even my friend J had his own shortlist of candidates. Actually, his was an exceptionally short list and I remember giving him my two cents' worth on his choices when he'd asked my opinion.

A FILIPINO CELEBRITY CHEF?

We all wanted to have a Filipino win, of course, as it is indeed a very big deal to be proclaimed as AFC's next celebrity chef. Well, the finals for this pressure cooker of a competition (excuse the pun) are coming up soon and there are actually four Filipino contestants in the final round.

MEET OUR HOMEGROWN CANDIDATES

PINOY CONTESTANT # 1
Diane Montecillo
Age: 27
"I have the skills, knowledge, physical quality
and interesting personality that AFC is looking for."

Diane's passion for Mediterranean and European cuisine also stems from her grandmothers from both sides of her family, and her mother, all of whom love cooking and would prepare Mediterranean cuisines, in particular Italian and Spanish dinners for the family.

Which three ingredients can't you live without?
Butter, bacon and wine. These are my flavor enhancers for any dish I prepare.

What ingredient best represents you?
Truffles! We are similar because you can never get enough of it (or me) and they have to be handled with extreme care.

What would you choose as your last meal?
Without a doubt, Paella Valenciana.

* * *

PINOY CONTESTANT # 2
Dino Ferrari
Age : 26
"I love to cook and entertain for friends and family.
Most of all, I love people making smile."

His passion for cooking began when his sister, who attended a hotel school, would return home and share simple recipes, tricks on plating and even how to fold napkins. Instead of watching cartoons as a kid, he was constantly fascinated by cooking shows.

Which three ingredients can't you live without?
Butter, simply for being butter. I'm Filipino so I need to have my rice fix. The last ingredient would be garlic as it adds flavor to everything and anything.

What ingredient best represents you?
Any blue cheese. The older I get the better I am.

What would you choose as your last meal?
Linguini with smoked salmon cream sauce. I would eat that as a last meal for one month straight.

* * *

PINOY CONTESTANT # 3
Nino Logarta
Age : 33
"I know I'm capable in terms of cooking
and I can handle myself in front of the camera."

Nino believes that cooking comes from the heart, allowing the guest to relate to the food and flavours. He likes to try out different recipes and even has a culinary consultancy firm called Project Food.

Which three ingredients can't you live without?
Garlic, salt and pepper as they can make any dish bloom.

What ingredient best represents you?
Black pepper. I like to think it goes well with anything, and it tastes great too.

What would you choose as your last meal?
It would definitely be my mother's kare-kare with bagging.


* * *

PINOY CONTESTANT # 4
Robert Tan
Age:
"Being part of this competition has opened my eyes to many things
like managing and operating a cooking business."

Robert believes that he still has many things to explore and learn. When he was in Singapore to pursue his studies in the culinary arts, he had the opportunity to meet different kinds of people from different walks of life, and to taste all kinds of food and ingredients that he never thought existed before.

Which three ingredients can't you live without?
Eggs, salt and sugar. I can't live without salt and sugar as they make a lot of impact on the taste and flavor of a dish. As for eggs, there's an endless list of things you can do with eggs.

What ingredient best represents you?
Again, I must say eggs. They are often underestimated compared to other products such as beef, chicken or fish. But eggs are actually very versatile and they can transform dishes into something totally amazing. Like me, eggs are understated but we can both accomplish great things.

What would you choose as your last meal?
Roasted duck or goose, served with plum sauce. They are to die for and the "yum" factor is through the roof.

* * *

WEDNESDAYS AT 10 PM

Make sure to watch this very exciting competition every Wednesday at 10 PM on Skycable, Channel 22 and Dream Channel, Channel 27. The "E&O Search for AFC's Next Celebrity Chef" will be on its last round of airings in December, and we're going to soon find out if a Pinoy makes it or not.

FUN IN PENANG

Out of the hundreds of chefs and foodies who initially auditioned, only 35 finalists were chosen to travel to Malaysia and stay at the luxurious E&O properties in Kuala Lumpur and Penang. Interestingly, the chefs were all staying at the heritage Eastern & Oriental Hotel in Penang last August, at exactly the same time that our 10-member Travelife team was also staying at the Eastern & Oriental Hotel.


And between all the media and chefs walking around the lobby at all times of the day, it certainly made for one lively week in Penang's top hotel. And throughout the series, as it goes all over Asia, the contestants are put through a series of creative challenges that test their abilities in the kitchen and also on the stage. The celebrity chef will need star power, after all! Those who can’t take the heat are eliminated each week.

At the end of December, the chosen winner will be signed on to an exclusive one-year contract as an AFC Celebrity Chef who will appear on AFC. The new celebrity chef will also be awarded a one- year employment contract with the E&O Group as Creative Chef of the E&O Hospitality & Lifestyle Division.

CELEBRITY JUDGES

The judges for the competition are AFC's very own chefs, Bruce Lim and Anna Olson, together with E&O Director Michael Saxon. Chef Bruce Lim has two television shows on AFC -- Tablescapes and The Boss -- and he is really relishing his role as judge for the contest.

He said: “I still remember when I was working under the tutelage of Chef Gordon Ramsay. Having him as a mentor was not only a once in a lifetime experience, it also helped to shape me into the chef that I am today. Now, the tables have turned and I have become the teacher! It is hard to believe that I am literally molding the next generation of television celebrity chefs!”

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