Almost a week into 2016, as expected at the start of every year, everyone seems to be so busy trying to improve their lives by making goals and resolutions—changing bad eating and drinking habits, being more active, spending less, saving more, the list goes on. To make your resolution a little more different from a “more this, less that” goal, why not try reliving your neglected passion or seemingly hopeless dream?
How? Here is a simple Nilaga recipe to rekindle that long lost dream of yours, inspired by the story of an aspiring chef who became a kitchen rockstar despite the struggles and rejections that came his way. Why Nilaga? Because as what our grannies tell us, “Kung may tiyaga, may nilaga.” We got to chat with Chef JP Anglo at his recent launch as the newest Globe Platinum ambassador:
THE KITCHEN ROCKSTAR. Chef JP is one of this generation’s hottest chefs (well, literally and figuratively, as you can see). He is known in the culinary world because of his talent and passion for cooking and great food. He owns various world class restos—Sarsa, Kafe Batwan, and Liberation Shawarma—catering a wide variety of dishes and cuisines. And then of course, the whole country was all eyes on him when he became a judge on the reality show MasterChef Pinoy Edition.
THE "SUCCESS DISH" RECIPE. There is no single perfect recipe to this delicious, all-in (meat and veggies) Filipino rainy and cold weather comfort food, but here are some basic steps inspired by Chef JP’s culinary journey:
1. Find the right ingredients: Discover your passion. A nilaga that uses ribs as meat is somehow different from one that uses liempo or tenderloin. Finding the ingredient/s that fit your recipe and taste is necessary for your nilaga.
That’s the same thing with life. However, not all of us already know what they want to be or what they want to do in life. “I didn’t get into food immediately. I tried different things at first, though none of them seem to really stick,” says Chef JP. After their family restaurant closed, that’s the only time he realized that food is what he should be doing all along. After knowing the right ingredients, he started cooking his Success Dish.
2. Bring to boil: Fire up. Together with pepper and some salt, bring the chosen meat to boil.
Chef JP was determined to pursue cooking so he went through formal education to hone his skills, and then went to Australia to further study and work. “You can say I wanted to prove I could make a success out of that second chance,” he says. His education, experience, and inspiration [his family] fired up his passion.
3. Simmer: Strive amidst struggles. The intensity of the fire will determine how long the simmer time will be but it is necessary to achieve the right consistency and softness of the meat. You also need to check it once in a while to see if you need to replenish it with water before it gets dry.
Chef JP experienced different intensities of rejections from his prospective business partners. “I can’t really blame those who rejected me in the beginning. I’m sure they were all wondering who this upstart chef was, popping out of nowhere,” he says. But he was able to replenish his confidence with the help of his sister and brother-in-law who gave him the start he needed.
4. Add veggies and spices: Stay inspired. When the meat is almost well-done, add the spices so as to penetrate the meat and then the potatoes and after a few minutes, your choice of green and leafy veggies.
“I was away from everything familiar, so yes, staying connected with people I love was a comfort. Access to various sources of information and inspirations, on the other hand, kept me going,” Chef JP shares how he stays inspired when he was away from home in Bacolod. He connected with his family via digital means and he spiced up his life by engaging in his other interests: Traveling and surfing. Always remember: When the going gets tough, find a reason to keep going... there is always at least one, hang on to that.
5. Taste and Serve: Savor and share success. When the meat, potato, and veggies are well done, check if you still need to add anything to achieve the taste you want.
It may take a while, but it’s all worth. It will be worth it. Because by then, you could savor the fruit of your hard work and share them to the people you love.
Boiling, simmering, and adding some spices are necessary to any nilaga dish just like how obstacles are in life. As our rockstar chef says “Those things [obstacles] made me stronger and more focused on my goal, not to mention, taught me a lot about patience, and the value of working harder and better.”
This year, decide to pursue and rekindle that passion before it gets totally frozen by time.
Struggles will come your way. Rejections may get you down. But think twice before you quit. Your decision might just make or break a future prepared for you (Jeremiah 29:11).
Photograph from Instagram.com/chefjayps