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For the love of food

(The Philippine Star) - February 27, 2012 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Many of Marvin Agustin’s childhood memories revolve around food. “We lived in a very small house so we could really smell everything and there was a lot of cooking. My parents are both good cooks,” recalls Marvin. Among his best-food memories is eating Spam with Knorr seasoning.

According to Marvin, everyone in his family is a natural cook. To further his passion, he took a culinary course at the International School for Culinary Arts and Hotel Management (ISCAHM). “At home, we love soup dishes like tinola, sinampalukang manok and nilaga. I can live on rice and sinigang, any kind,” says Marvin, who makes a mean cocido that all his friends love.

Marvin and his two sisters also worked in restaurants, with his sister enlisting his services once in a while as a mascot for the pizza chain outlet where she was employed. Marvin, who was connected with a Mexican restaurant, did not mind earning some extra cash. He was paid P150 for donning a mascot costume. “It was very hot. But the most horrible thing was when sweat would get into your eyes and you couldn’t wipe it off,” he recalls.

Even Marvin’s twins, Sebastian and Santiago, are interested in cooking. One of the six-year-old boys wants to be a chef; the other one wants to be on the reality singing show American Idol. They like to make pizza, under the supervision of adults, of course. “If they had their way, the kids would eat rice and fried chicken all the time. But I would like them to be more adventurous, so I encourage them try new things. Now, they eat sushi and sashimi!” says the proud father.

Thus, when Marvin decided to go into business several years ago, it was only natural that he would choose the food industry. First, he opened a franchise of a donuts brand that he was endorsing at that time. Then, Marvin came up with Ricecapades, which offered fried rice with different variants like pork, chicken and beef.

In 2004, Marvin opened Oyster Boy at Araneta Center. After that came Sumo Sam at Shangri-La Plaza Mall. “The idea for Sumo Sam came after we went to the mall and couldn’t find a good Japanese restaurant,” he shares. Marvin is now the co-owner of 17 restaurants, including Sumo Sam, Robotosan Japanese Grill, John and Yoko, Mr. Korosawa, Johnny Chow, Komrad, Oyster Boy and Marciano’s.  Before the end of the year, Marvin and his partners will put up a Sumo Sam in Los Angeles and another one in Shanghai.

The newest chef endorser of Knorr Cubes is also co-owner of Futurtainment, a company that brings in foreign artists to the Philippines such as Miley Cyrus and Bruno Mars. “I am very practical and I know where to invest my money,” says Marvin.

Giving back is also part of Marvin’s goals. Many people do not know it but Marvin’s company employed one of the contestants of The Next Kitchen Superstar in his restaurant.

For his birthday, Marvin brought children born with a harelip condition to Enchanted Kingdom for a day of fun.

AMERICAN IDOL ARANETA CENTER BUT I CULINARY ARTS AND HOTEL MANAGEMENT ENCHANTED KINGDOM EVEN MARVIN INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL JOHN AND YOKO JOHNNY CHOW MARVIN SUMO SAM
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