Filipino cook wins Christmas cook-off on UK celebrity primetime TV show
By Gina Consing McAdam
December 22, 2016
Roni, a senior events executive by day, was one of four cooks invited to take part in the real-time cook-off forming a key segment of the show, which has Allsopp – best known for Channel 4’s hit property series ‘Location, Location, Location’ -- travelling across the country in search of craft and culinary traditions, old and new.
A self-confessed foodie (she recently ate her way across Australia and New Zealand with her husband), Roni pitted her culinary skills against fellow cooks Carine Otton, Dare Oni and Natali Griffith. All four were given two and a half hours to cook a dish that could offer an alternative to the traditional British yuletide fare, inspiring audiences in search of something different.
In the end, it was Roni’s recipe and presentation of the Filipino Christmas staple, chicken relleno – baked chicken stuffed with ground pork, chorizo and black olives -- that won the seal of approval from judge Jimmy Lee, the well-regarded Glaswegian TV Chef and restaurateur.
Roni Bandong graduated from La Salle Zobel and UP Los Bańos in the Philippines (she has a Bachelors degree in Zoology and an MSc in Marketing Management), moving to the UK in 2002. Of her extraordinary small screen adventure, she said, ‘What an experience! I was shocked that I won because the dishes created by the other ladies looked so amazing.
‘Cooking on British television for a national audience can be nerve-wracking, but everyone involved in the production did their best to make us feel relaxed. But I tell you, the nerves will kick in no matter what! Also, cooking in a kitchen that isn’t yours can make you feel lost, initially. And to cook a dish within two and a half hours hours from prep to plate is like Formula 1 in the kitchen, especially when you’re roasting as you have to do with chicken relleno, since the meat needs time to rest and time was ticking.
‘But thank goodness it all worked out in the end. I think the fact that my dish was chosen means that people, including the best chefs in the world, are beginning to appreciate the tastes and flavours of Philippine cuisine. The profile of Filipino food is definitely on the rise.
‘We all know how Romulo Café London, owned by my good friend Rowena Romulo, has raised the bar by winning the ‘most loved restaurant in Kensington’ award from Time Out magazine last month. I’m so glad that in my own way I’ve had the opportunity to showcase Filipino food in another high profile arena and to add to what seems to be a Filipino food phenomenon around the world.’
Such was the camaraderie among the four cooks in the television studio that Roni and her new friends are now planning to host a joint supper club in Spring 2017. Watch this space. It sounds delicious.
For more information on Roni Bandong and maynila, firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.maynila.co.uk
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