james antolin

One of the Philip­pines’ most re­spected pas­try chefs fi­nally opens his own es­tab­lish­ment . . . and sur­prise of sur­prises, it’s not a bak­ery: it’s a crafty new Ja­panese restau­rant.

Let’s Eat - - WHAT'S INSIDE - WORDS BY SPANKY HIZON EN­RIQUEZ

The finest dou­ble choco­late cook­ies in Makati are avail­able in the city’s hottest new Ja­panese joint, baked fresh daily, by none other than the Vice Pres­i­dent of the Pas­try Al­liance of the Philip­pines. Chef James Antolin has al­ways gone against the flow. As a young man, he en­rolled in the Cal­i­for­nia Culi­nary Academy while his peers be­gan their stud­ies in the dis­ci­plines of law, fi­nance, and medicine. Two decades ago, a ca­reer in the kitchen had none of the glam­our at­tached to it these days; but James per­se­vered, and be­came one of the first Filipino pi­o­neers to make a mark in the glitzy din­ing scene of Hol­ly­wood. Dur­ing his ten­ure there, he gave Al Pa­cino an of­fer of desserts he couldn’t re­sist, and dur­ing an Emmy Awards party, be­came friends with the cast of “Friends”. He could have eas­ily set­tled per­ma­nently in the United States; he was af­ter all, al­ready be­ing men­tored by the top chefs in some of the best restau­rants in Los An­ge­les. But love, as it in­evitably does, changed the course of James’ life.

He met a gor­geous den­tist, Mitsy, and not too long af­ter, the young cou­ple re­turned home to start a family.

Amer­ica’s loss was the Philip­pines’ gain. James dis­cov­ered his call­ing as an ed­u­ca­tor, and was ap­pointed as the Pro­gram Head of the CCA on Katipunan: hun­dreds of chefs, many of them now very pop­u­lar as well, were James’ stu­dents. But the aca­demi­cian never let go of his ul­ti­mate dream: to truly make the Filipino a force to reckon with in­ter­na­tion­ally. Along with Chef J Gam­boa, Chef Fer­nando Ara­cama, and Chef Buddy Trinidad, he or­ga­nized the first Philip­pine Culi­nary Cup in 2010, in or­der to dis­cover the coun­try’s best young tal­ents. A decade on, PCC teams have gar­nered golds in re­gional and global com­pe­ti­tions, and in so do­ing, up­lifted the rep­u­ta­tion, and in­creased the de­mand for Filipino Chefs all over the world. Thanks, in no small part, to the first dis­rup­tor, the lord of com­pe­ti­tions, the king of pas­try, James of House Antolin.

PHOTO BY GABBY CANTERO

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