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.
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.