This chef brings Filipino flavors to Jamie Oliver’s show ‘The Great Cookbook Challenge’ – Manila Bulletin

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Published March 4, 2022, 1:43 PM
by John Legaspi

By now, seeing Filipino food on the international stage is no longer a surprise. With Filipinos all around the globe championing their local cuisine, it is not far for Filipino food to get a certain kind of fame Japanese, Mexican, and Korean cuisines, among others, have. The latest to put Filipino cooking in the limelight is Rex De Guzman.

The 28-year-old professional chef from South London joins TV competition “The Great Cookbook Challenge with Jamie Oliver” as he hopes to win a publishing deal and be the next best-selling cookbook author. But in order to do this, he must conquer food challenges, and, for him, the key to his success is Filipino cooking.

His journey in becoming a chef started in college as he pursued culinary studies over music. After graduating in 2011, he gained industry experience by working at Chapters: All Day dining in Blackheath, The Rivington Bar & Grill, and as Chef De Partie in Gordon Ramsay’s MAZE restaurant (now Lucky Cat) in Mayfair. In 2018, he left his Chef De Partie role and started his own business, called Turo Turo, highlighting Filipino street food. His start-up enabled him to gain various recognitions from the British Street Food Awards, “winning the title of ‘Southern Champion’ in the regional heats and then competing in the National Finals to win ‘Best Vegetarian Dish’ in the UK,” according to his website.

“In 2014, I decided to start my mission to popularize Filipino cuisine in London. I ran my first popup restaurant at the tender age of 21 and started to grow a small following,” he said. “I wanted to do whatever I could to get the British public to try my interpretation of contemporary Filipino cuisine from popup restaurants, charity events, and private dining to working with the Philippine embassy and even catering weddings.”

In the show, Rex presented his version of classic Filipino dishes such as ensaladang talong (charred aubergine), pork adobo, and Brussels sprouts and prawns ginataan (cooked in coconut milk).

A post shared by Rex De Guzman | London (@chefrexdeguzman)

A post shared by Rex De Guzman | London (@chefrexdeguzman)

“The cookbook challenge really makes you think twice about recipe writing and the world of publishing,” he said through an Instagram post. “The experience made me realize very quickly just how serious this business is because people are not only investing their hard-earned money in you as an author, but they are also spending money to recreate your recipes as part of their daily livelihood.”

As of this writing, Rex is still in the running to win the “The Great Cookbook Challenge.”

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