When did you realise you wanted to work in hospitality?
In 2009 after dinner at The Fat Duck. I will always remember the feeling I got when we finished the meal and saying to my wife “this is what I want to do, make people as happy as I am right now".
Where and how did you get your start?
After the trip I spent a couple years trying to convince myself that it was a crazy idea to leave my IT career to cook. Eventually I quit at the beginning of 2012, I enrolled in a quick college course through TAFE in Sydney and offered my weekends to any one that would take me into their kitchen. We moved to London that summer and I was able to get a trial at Dean Street Townhouse, I started as a commis chef on the larder section a week later.
Sum up your current work life in one sentence.
A jack of all trades but a master of none.
Who has been really influential on your career and why?
The most influential would have to be Joe Hill, he taught me how to cook and has always encouraged and nurtured my creativity from when he was my Sous Chef at Dean Street. One the best grill man I’ve ever seen and just genuinely a nice guy. I would also say my time at Story and Flat Three are up there, both places taught me the value of the people around you. Both places brought me to a whole new level of cooking and although my terms there were short the learning was intense!
What’s next for you?
Continue to build my brand Sarap London and to promote Filipino food. Our current residency finishes on the 23rd December so looking forward to spending the entire Christmas and New year break with family for the first time in 6 years.
What’s your one piece of advice to someone starting out?
Remember why you started, it will help you get through the bad days and there will be plenty of those!
Where did you last have a great meal?
Brat, the entire meal was phenomenal but the cheesecake was on another level!
Are there any openings you are looking forward to?
I’m very much engulfed in the Filipino food scene at the moment so looking forward to checking out Kinilaw & Buko in Hoxton. Really looking forward to Din Tai Fung, I’m a sucker for good consistent Xiao long bao and they’ve nailed it!
Where is the most exciting city for hospitality (after London)?
Not so much a city but I’d say Australia has really come a long way in the last 10 years. The food scene there excites me. The country is full of young, hungry and super talented chefs who have worked in some of the best kitchens in the world and have gone back to do amazing things.
Who would you identify as a rising star?
So many to choose from, Tom Brown, James Cochran, Tomos Parry the list goes on really. But for me I would say Omar Shah, he has quietly built a small empire of restaurants one of which is Mamasons which just opened its second branch in Chinatown. He is a leading advocate for Filipino cuisine in London and someone i truly look up to as a restaurateur.