Cover Photo: Marc Henrich Go

JP Anglo, Bruce Ricketts, Nicco Santos and more tell us about the delicious yet arduous journey they have been through

The culinary world, as scrumptious as it may be, is a cut-throat industry that requires grit, passion, dedication, and years of relentless training. But no matter how tough the kitchens can be, even the littlest inspiration can help turn one's dream into reality. We asked these chefs: Who or what inspired you to become a chef? What lessons have you learned?

Here's what they had to say.

Read More: Top Female Chefs On How They Reached Success

Carlo Huerta

Chef Carlo Huerta Echegaray is the head chef for Shangri-la at the Fort's Peruvian restaurant, Samba. He hails from Peru and has spent years travelling across South America, refining his skills and discovering the robust local flavours the continent has to offer.

Who or what inspired you to become a chef? What lessons have you learned? 

"When I was a kid, there was a big gastronomic revolution in Peru. Interest in our ethnic products became important, humble ingredients became fancy. Lots of important chefs were on the telly, to mention some: Gaston Acurio, who brought the Peruvian cuisine all around the world, and Cucho La Rosa - he created the Novoandino cuisine – the use of Peruvian ingredients in international dishes such as the lasagna de quinoa and made reductions of chicha morada. I have always loved to eat and cook. I started as a kid [observing] my mom and grandma [as they cooked]. The smell [of] the spices, the oregano and chilli filled our kitchen, [I would] look at my grandmum, Nelly, use the batan to make sauces (Peruvian stone mortar), [so] maybe I've always tried to cook like her, feed others with passion and love in every dish."

Read More: Carlo Huerta, Tom Bascon, and More: Top Chefs Tell Us Who Their Dream Guest Is

Miko Calo

Miko Calo is the executive chef and a partner at Best Restaurants Guide 2020 Best New Restaurant, Metronome. Having trained under the tutelage of the legendary Jöel Robuchon for seven years, Miko brought all her learnings back to the Philippines where she is now delighting guests and diners with world-class recipes and dishes.

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Who or what inspired you to become a chef? What lessons have you learned? 

"Working in Jöel Robuchon's kitchens has made me appreciate and respect ingredients, and has instilled in me the importance of discipline and attention to detail. I've worked with a handful of chef de cuisines during my time and I consider them all my mentors. I also look up to Chefs Helene Darroze, Anne Sophie Pic, and Adeline Gattard."

 

Read more: Meet The Sous Chefs From 5 Of Metro Manila's Best Restaurants: Toyo Eatery, Metronome, And More

Chele Gonzalez

This exciting and inventive culinary talent, Chele Gonzalez leads the kitchen of the very popular Gallery By Chele in Bonifacio Global City, of which he is chef-owner. His creative and scrumptious dishes never fail to leave a mark on everyone who gets to take a bite of his one-of-a-kind dishes.

Who or what inspired you to become a chef? What lessons have you learned? 

"I was in Spain when there was a Spanish cuisine revolution happening. It was the golden era for food. So there is not just one person who inspired me, but mainly, it was the food in general that inspired me to be who I am and to take my journey. Food is one of the things that makes me the happiest in the world. And any good chef can be my idol–even the people who are working for me—because you can always learn something from them."

 

Read More: Filipino Food—How Can We Go Further? Margarita Forés, Chele Gonzàlez, And More Speak Out

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JP Anglo

The man behind Sarsá's best-selling chicken grilled isaw and the ever sinful crispy pork sisig is no other than chef-owner JP Anglo. Growing up in a family who owned a restaurant, chef JP found himself following the same path his parents took.

Who or what inspired you to become a chef? What lessons have you learned? 

"No particular chef or person inspired me to become a chef. It was more of an expression of what really made me happy. Creating and sharing food is my way of expressing myself – it’s my love language! My biggest lesson is to really keep on trying and becoming better, to never give up even when [it] gets tough. Because those mistakes will always lead you to finding better ways on how to do things."

Read more: Chef JP Anglo of Sarsa On The Lessons He Learned During The Pandemic
 

Nicco Santos

Chef Nicco Santos is the talented mind who worked behind the appetising dishes of Your Local, Hey Handsome, and Elephant Grounds Manila, as well as the culinary comforts from his newest concept, Sambar. He brings to the kitchen with him the lessons he learned from constant travelling, and his encounter with different cultures in Southeast Asia spiced up his culinary repertoire.

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Above Photo: Elephant Grounds

Who or what inspired you to become a chef? What lessons have you learned? 

"More than a chef, what inspired me to become one is really to always have a reason to bring my family and friends together. My mother used to have lots of her friends who were chefs come over to cook and what I fell in love with is the warmth it brought to our kitchen, dining tables, and homes. “Measure twice, cut once” – these words have always taught me that patience, precision, and persistence will always contribute to my growth of being a cook, businessman, and partner."

Read More: 7 Traditional Pandan Dishes Across Southeast Asia

Bruce Ricketts

Bruce Ricketts continues to elevate the Manila culinary landscape with his top-notch restaurants: Mecha Uma, La Chinesca, and Sensei Sushi. Like a true master, Bruce Ricketts may be reserved and way too modest for his skills, but he is surely one talented beast in the kitchen.

Who or what inspired you to become a chef? What lessons have you learned? 

"It’s very difficult to name just one person because meeting different chefs and eating their food constantly inspires me to be better as I absorb and understand their philosophy and make it work for my own growing style. Whether through reading about a chef that I’ve never met, or someone I'm a fan of and having the opportunity to try their food, I always enjoy learning about how different chefs approach produce and technique. My curiosity about their styles helps me explore and improve my own style and understanding of food."

Read more: Where To Order Sushi, Sashimi And Chirashi For Delivery In Metro Manila 2021

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Above Photo: Marc Henrich Go

Tom Bascon

Never without a smile in his face, chef Tom Bascon is the mastermind behind M Dining's exquisite dishes. He finished his culinary studies at French Culinary Institute and further honed his skills while working for the world-renowned, Nobu, in New York City.

Who or what inspired you to become a chef? What lessons have you learned? 

"I honestly don’t think there was anyone who inspired me to be a chef. I do have my parents and family to thank for exposing me to food at such an early age and opening my eyes to this wonderful world. [I] just did not think then that I could make a career out of it. On the other hand, when I was entertaining the idea of a change into the culinary society, there is one man who stands out as the one who galvanised the “idea” into reality. His name is Chef Raoul Orosa. He opened his kitchen, then in Dallas, Texas, to me and I haven’t looked back since. Aside from patiently teaching me the basics, I could see, feel, and taste the passion this man had for food. He was an open book… no secret recipes. "Just cook from the heart", he would say. I have since gone on to work for other restaurants, chefs, but [they] have always treated interns, line cooks, and those under me the same unselfish way he was to me. To this day, I carry that like a badge of honour, knowing that as long as I cook with passion and compassion, I’ll be fine."

Read More: Chef Tom Bascon Of M Dining Talks About The Experiences That Shaped Him

Miko Aspiras

Harnessing an incredible talent in the kitchen, chef Miko Aspiras is a highly inventive chef behind many popular pastries in the country. Chef Miko has then moved to Sydney to become an executive pastry chef for a high-profile restaurant, Seta Sydney, that is set to open this December.

Who inspired you to become a chef? A mentor? An idol? What lessons have you learned from him or her that helped you become the successful chef that you are today?

"I've always been self-driven. From the beginning and up until now I constantly push myself to do the best that I can in every situation and I find that inspiring. I've been inspired by my team as well the chefs, managers, servers and stewards that work tirelessly everyday. I also value these three chefs the most: Margarita Forés, Cyrille Seonen, and Him Uy de Baron. They are the most unselfish people I've ever met."

Read More: The Philippine Tastemakers 2021: The Most Influential People In F&B Today