We all have memories of our dear mothers preparing meals for us as a kid. It can be that hot champorado, or those eggdesals we had as our baon to school. Each of these meals, our moms cooked and prepared with nothing but TLC.
No expensive dish at some Michelin-starred restaurant can equal Pinay moms' homecooked meals. This signature dose of love became these supermom chefs' secret ingredient in tickling both the local and international palates. Over the years, these women have showcased only the best in Filipino gastronomy through their famed restaurants, bestselling cookbooks, and cooking stints for the world's most influential leaders.
1. Nora Daza. The departed culinary legend has led top-rating cooking shows At Home with Nora and Cooking It Up with Nora, and has written top-selling cookbooks. Chef Nora's passion for homegrown food translated into the Filipino restaurants she put up abroad—Maharlika Restaurant in New York City and the now-closed Aux Iles Philippines in Paris. She passed away in 2013, leaving son and also a restarateur and cooking show host Sandy Daza continuing her legacy.
2. Glenda Barretto. Self-taught Chef Glenda founded Via Mare in 1975. The resto expanded not only in terms of franchise, as it has also gone to serve presidential guests. Via Mare also catered at the last two Miss Universe pageants held in the country.
3. Margarita Fores. Named Asia’s Best Chef in 2015, Chef Gaita is the woman behind acclaimed restaurants Cibo, Lusso, Grace Park, and Alta. She had no formal culinary training, save for a four-month long trip in Italy in 1986 that only sharpened her expertise in the cuisine. As part of her philanthropy, Chef Gaita helps local farmers by using locally-sourced produce in all of her restaurants.
4. Heny Sison. Heny started her career as an economic researcher and financial analyst. Chasing her passion for baking, she would leave all that and take culinary classes under Tess Isaac, Sylvia Reynoso-Gala, and Avelina Carbungco-Florendo. In 1985, she founded Heny Sison School of Cake Decorating and Baking. She transformed it into the Heny Sison Culinary School in 2003, so she could include cooking classes. Chef Heny became a TV personality as well, hosting cooking show A Taste of Life for over seven years. In 2006, she received two distinctions– “Certified Culinarian” from the American Culinary Federation, and “Pro Chef Level 1” from the Culinary Institute of America.
5. Reggie Aspiras. Chef Reggie has been cooking since she was 6. A Sylvia Reynoso-Gala protegé, she fine-tuned her culinary skills in schools in Spain, France, and Italy. She would found the Reggie Aspiras School of Culinary Arts where she also taught. Chef Reggie is also a columnist for a national broadsheet, sharing recipes, cooking tips, and food trends.
6. Cristeta Pasia Comerford. Chef Cristeta achieved mainstream consciousness in 2005, after being appointed as the White House’s lead chef. She was the first woman of Asian-American descent to take over the distinguished post. In 1995, prior to the appointment, she was the assistant chef to then-White House Executive chef Walter Scheib III. Chef Critsteta has served four presidents—Bill Clinton, Geroge W. Bush, Barrack Obama, and Donald Trump throughout her career. She even guested on Iron Chef America in 2010.
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Artwork by Jana Jimenez. Photographs from news.abs-cbn.com, seductivenilen.blogspot.com, and henysison.com.