Being a chef is not just about learning how to cook. It’s also about travelling and exposing yourself as much as possible to as many cuisines and cultures as you can. When a chef opens his own restaurant, he is not just cooking food; he is sharing an experience. These chefs are changing the restaurant one dish at a time.
5 Chefs Who are Changing the Restaurant Game in the Philippines
Kenneth Flavier and Allen Qua, chefs and owners of Full Belly Craft Kitchen
Kenneth Flavier and Allen Qua were classmates at Center for Culinary Arts before being business partners. Kenneth first worked at a restaurant in RCBC Plaza, while Allen went into franchising right after graduation. Kenneth felt stuck in his work. He says that maintaining the title “Chef” is difficult, especially when you are not happy with what you are doing. On the other hand, Allen went to New York to further study culinary, then started his own restaurant with his sister when he came back. After all that had happened, Kenneth approached Allen with the idea of Full Belly.
Both chefs say they don’t regret anything that they did. Chef Kenneth told us to not dwell on the past as everything that happened is a learning experience and that there is a purpose behind it. As for his advice to budding entrepreneurs: “Do not be afraid to do things because you won’t know until you try. As long as you know what you are doing and you are confident about it, you’ll succeed in the business.”
Bambi Sy Gobio, chef and owner of Restaurante Pia y Damaso
Bambi Sy Gobio has been cooking since she was 8 years old. She studied and worked in US and in Canada for 10 years before she opened her own restaurant, Restaurante Pia y Damaso. She was offered a space in one of the Ayala Malls, but they demanded that it must be Filipino. Her brother had the idea that it must be something about Damaso.
As the restaurants in the Metro boom in number, Bambi tries to update their menu every now and then so as to keep up with the intense competition. The thing is, though, the menu still has to stick with the Filipino theme. According to Bambi, exposing yourself to the world, travelling to different places, and reading lots of books will help you be the best entrepreneur and/or chef that you can be.
Ellaine Miles, chef of The Primary Kitchen and Bar
Inspired by her grandfather, Ellaine Miles started cooking when she was just 10 years old. She used to work in a Culinary School. She and her friends, who are also chefs and are in the Food and Beverage industry, came up with the idea to put up a bar and restaurant. Basically, what they wanted was a place where friends could just eat and drink. Every day, their goal is to provide their customers the best food and service.
No matter what happens, Ellaine will always go back to cooking. She says her heart and her passion really lie in cooking. Her advice for future chefs and entrepreneurs? Simple: do whatever makes you happy and where your passion really is.
Charles Joseph Lim, Executive Chef of The Clean Plate by Twist
CJ Lim basically grew up in the kitchen. At a young age, he used to assist his mother in their restaurant and Greenhills, and he went to US to take up culinary courses. Now that he is back, he is now the chef at Twist – Comfort Food + Difference. CJ and his partner, Deo Endrinal, decided to expand so they opened The Clean Plate by Twist, which serves the usual comfort food but using organic ingredients.
Organic restaurants are difficult to put up and maintain because you really have to prove that your ingredients are indeed organic. CJ admits that he was scared to open an organic restaurant because he thought that people might not like the concept. But guess what? He thought wrong! One thing that they struggle with, though, is finding organic ingredients as most are sourced from provinces. CJ suggests that those who want to put restaurants must study everything, from where and how these ingredients are harvested to how these ingredients benefit us. Restaurants are evolving and as an entrepreneur, he says you really have to be hands on and know what is happening to your restaurant every time.
It may sound cliché, but loving what you do will essentially keep your business alive. These chefs put their heart into their restaurants and they really have the passion to do what they do. Challenges come but they only make you stronger and better. So, if there’s one phrase to summarize everything, it will be: never give up!
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