SAY the surname “Laudico” to Filipino foodies worth their salt, and you can be sure they know who exactly owns it, in more ways than one: rockstar chef Rolando Laudico and his equally accomplished chef-wife Jacqueline “Jackie” Juarez Laudico. Why wouldn’t they, with all that this celebrated culinary couple achieved in their profession in almost two decades: a thriving catering business, a chain of successful cafés and restaurants bearing their name, and several product endorsement deals. One may ask: What else is there to put on their proverbial plate?
The answer to that arrived late last month, when the Laudicos added an unlikely title to their already impressive resumés—author—with the launch of their first cookbook, Chef Laudico Flips Out!, at their own Chef Laudico Guevarra’s restaurant in San Juan City.
Anvil Publishing Inc., which produced the 132-page, full-color book, describes Chef Laudico Flips Out! as a “cookbook that features the couple’s own exciting takes on classic Filipino recipes, while staying true to the distinct taste of Filipino cuisine.”
In her introduction at the launch, Anvil General Manager Andrea Pasion-Flores said that, “as a publisher of cookbooks, we try to bring to you a unique culinary voice. And in the persons of Chef Rolando and Chef Jackie Laudico, I think we found” that voice, “because if you look at the book, they” literally turn traditional Filipino dishes on their heads.
“I think it’s about [time]that we put our passion into print and share it [with]a wider audience—not just to students, to other home chefs, to other professionals—to…let them feel our passion and our own take [on]modern Filipino cuisine,” Jackie said.
One reason the book is titled Chef Laudico Flips Out! is because you have to actually flip it, according to Rolando.
“You read something about the traditional aspect of what makes this dish Filipino…and when you flip it, when you flip the pages…you will see our version of what we did with that dish,” the culinary luminary said.
“[Y]ou can do anything you want [with the dish], as long you maintain the integrity or flavor profile of the dish, which is explained in the book,” he added.
“We’ve been all over the world promoting Filipino cuisine…and [the book offers]a fantastic opportunity to inspire our people to take on Filipino food. [To] know how delicious it is, what makes it delicious, and what you can do it with yourself to make it even more delicious—that’s really what the book is.”
Sharing culinary experiences
In an interview with the Sunday Times Magazine, the Laudicos, who first started cooking as children and first met as freshmen at the University of the Philippines (UP), said they had wanted to share their culinary experiences with more Filipinos, but didn’t know how to go about it.
Anvil provided the confidence, motivation, and support they needed, according to Jackie.
“[H]aving a compilation of recipes that we’ve worked [on]for years has long been a…dream, but it took Anvil to partner with us, to make it a reality,” she said.
“Most of the recipes that we [featured in the book are ones that]we [have]actually been doing for many years since we started” cooking professionally, Rolando said.
The recipes basically reflect “our own knowledge, like how we perceive what the dishes should inherently have, or [what]traditional flavors it should have. [They stem] from years of experience, stem from traveling all over the Philippines, [and]reading tons of…books,” he added.
One of the reasons we do Filipino cuisine to begin with is because “it’s really our inspiration [and advocacy]from the start,” Rolando explained.
“[A]s a chef, I think it’s our responsibility to really promote and share our knowledge to everyone, so they would also be inspired to do Filipino food, as well,” he said.
Thanks in part to their being products of the country’s premier state university, Jackie said she and her husband considered themselves activists who have mellowed with time and are now using “our energy [into promoting]Filipino cuisine [and the]Philippines in a positive way.”
According to the acclaimed pair, their schedules posed the greatest challenge when they were writing the book.
“Just finding the time to write, to refine the recipes, to do the photoshoots—that’s really a big challenge for us because we’re all over the place, literally,” Rolando said.
“But working with Anvil…made it easier for us, because…they’re very experienced with it,” he added.
The chef wants readers of the book “to be creative and do their own version of Filipino dishes, because for me, what makes Filipino cuisine charming is its different variations.”
He reminds them, however, to not “forget the traditional flavors, because at the end of the day, whatever you do to the dish, whatever cooking technique you use, it still boils down to the inherent flavor of that dish.”
If plans for a second volume of Chef Laudico Flips Out! pushes through, Jackie said it would feature “more recipes, more experiments.”
“We also plan to travel more to get dishes that are not so popular, because we featured dishes [in Chef Laudico Flips Out!]that every Filipino knows about,” Rolando said.
“There is like 90 percent of Filipino dishes [in other regions]that nobody knows except the people who live there, and those are fantastic dishes,” he added. “We want to feature those dishes, as well, in future books.”
Chef Laudico Flips Out! costs P495 and will soon become available in National Book Store branches.