CLAUDE AND MARY ANN TAYAG
How Claude and Mary Ann Tayag (with a little help from Anthony Bourdain) jumpstarted the global fame of Filipino Food.
The biggest culinary news of 2008 was the first visit of Anthony Bourdain to the Philippines. It was all very hush-hush in the beginning, the news shared furtively only by those in the know. Apparently, the producers of his show, “No Reservations” were sticklers for confidentiality; any leak, any online scoop, was quashed immediately. But Bourdain then, as he still is now, was the most prominent name in worldwide foodie fandom, so it was difficult to suppress information about his local itinerary, which included a trip to Pampanga, where he would be hosted by Claude and Mary Ann Tayag.
Bourdain, not surprisingly, fell in love with sisig (and San Miguel Pale Pilsen) while in the company of the couple, and likewise fell into a serious and lengthy discourse about the complex nature of Filipino Food. That conversation, a deep dive into the influences that define the character of our cuisine, became the centerpiece of the episode, which became one of the series’ most watched ever. It became a benchmark, and a catalyst. Suddenly, our cuisine became part of the global conversation: every foreign food show made featuring our country a priority, and all the industry’s renowned international personalities – television hosts and celebrity chefs alike -- made a pilgrimage to “Bale Dutung” in Angeles City, where the Tayags, with their wit, humor, and to-die-for degustations, made every single one of the VIPs fall for kare-kare, lechon, and of course, sisig.
A decade on, Filipino Food is reaching peak popularity in the United States. It’s not the “next big thing” anymore: it is unequivocally, The Big Thing. And that can be attributed, in no small measure, to Claude and his “darleng”, Mary Ann, the charming husband and wife who first introduced, and so passionately explained and beautifully demonstrated, Philippine Cuisine to Bourdain and his millions of fans, ten years ago.