Philippine culi­nary greats

As the say­ing goes, “If I have seen fur­ther, it is by stand­ing on the shoul­ders of gi­ants.” These 11 culi­nary pi­o­neers built the foun­da­tion for the rise and evo­lu­tion of the Filipino food in­dus­try.

Yummy (Philippines) - - Contents - Pho­tog­ra­phy by Cyrus Pan­gani­ban, Toto Labrador (Glenda Bar­retto), and J Dago San­tos (Amy Besa and Romy Dorotan) Text by Liezl Yap Pro­duced by Paulynn Chang Afa­ble, as­sisted by Anna Felipe

Claude Tayag

Claude Tayag de­scribes him­self as an artist first, a chef sec­ond. He is a gifted painter and sculp­tor who held his first one-man ex­hibit in 1978. Food sim­ply hap­pened to be a nat­u­ral, or­ganic ex­ten­sion of his art.

He grew up in a big Ka­pam­pan­gan fam­ily of good cooks and good eaters, the ninth of 12 chil­dren. “With the amount of cook­ing our mother did, we were al­ways made to help in the kitchen. If you wanted to eat some­thing aside from what was served, you had to do it your­self.” Cook­ing was some­thing he grew up do­ing and en­joyed. Dur­ing long week­ends back in their uni­ver­sity days, his class­mates would al­ways stop by Claude’s house in An­ge­les City on their way to Baguio and he’d whip up meals for them. In 1989, restau­ra­teur Larry Cruz in­vited him to be a guest chef at Ang Hang, in­tro­duc­ing him to the me­dia as the artist who cooks. It was his first time to cook for peo­ple other than friends and fam­ily—and the start of an il­lus­tri­ous ca­reer in food.

Widely rec­og­nized as a cham­pion of Philippine cui­sine, Claude is per­haps best known for the in­cred­i­ble multi-course meals he serves at Bale Du­tung, his house-cum-restau­rant. He and his wife Maryann al­ways loved to en­ter­tain and cook for friends, but it was the late Doreen Fer­nan­dez who gave him the idea of turn­ing his home into a restau­rant and treat­ing cus­tomers like his own per­sonal guests. Claude and Maryann have been run­ning Bale Du­tung since 2000, serv­ing an im­pres­sive menu that in­cludes en­sal­adang pako, bringhe, le­chon, and bu­langlang. If you’re lucky, Claude will be there chop­ping the le­chon while Maryann ex­plains the con­cept be­hind each dish. They’ve since opened an­other restau­rant called Down­town Café in An­ge­les, serv­ing Pam­pangueño com­fort food à la carte.

Bale Du­tung keeps him busy, but Claude’s plate is full with cre­ative projects. He still works on his art and mounts yearly ex­hibits of his wa­ter­color and acrylic paint­ings. He makes fur­ni­ture as well, cre­at­ing pieces he calls func­tional sculp­tures. He is a colum­nist for the Philippine Star and has sev­eral books un­der his belt. Paint­ing, wood­work­ing, sculpt­ing, writ­ing—they all feed his cre­ative soul just as much as cook­ing does. “There’s a rea­son they call cook­ing culi­nary arts. For me, it’s the same form of ex­pres­sion, just a dif­fer­ent medium.”

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