The accidental celebrity’s recipe for success
Tinnie P. Esguerra (The Philippine Star) - December 5, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - When Jackie Ang-Po was just a wisp of a girl, she remembers very well how she used to look forward to watching cooking shows, including the iconic Del Monte Kitchenomics series, which first started airing in 1995.

Back then, little did she know that a few decades later, she would soon be that familiar face, that “kitchen ally,” most housewives and homemakers, would look up to for quick, tasty yet affordable recipes.

If her face looks familiar, it’s because she’s Carla Abellana’s co-host and resident chef in the latest season of the Del Monte Kitchenomics series which airs on GMA 7.

With her distinct Oriental features, ponytailed hair and immaculately-white chef’s uniform, Jackie easily carries the air of a kitchen wizard and has unwittingly become a celebrity in her own right.

Shrugging off her newfound fame, the soft-spoken Jackie asserts, “I’m a chef first and an accidental celebrity second.”

Despite her youthful demeanor, Jackie’s culinary experience is beyond reproach. She is the pastry chef/owner of Fleur de Lys patisserie, a famous café/pastry shop located in the Tomas Morato strip in Quezon City. She is a graduate of the California Culinary Academy and is also a bronze medalist for plated desserts at the Food Hotel Asia Competition in Singapore last 2010. She is currently the Certified Wilton Method Instructor at the Living Well Workshop located at The Podium.

Among her most memorable awards are the Highest Gold/Best of the Best Award for Live High Tea in Hong Kong and the Bronze Award for Plated Dessert in Singapore FHA.

Apparently, Jackie had already done a few shows before, but as an intern. She reveals, “I was Heny’s (Sison) assistant for five years in her show. For GMA, I did True Confections, Delicioso and Amazing Cooking Kids.”

For her influences, Jackie cites Nora Daza and her kids, Sylvia Reynoso-Gala, Dorothy Ferreria, Henny Sison and Jill Sandique as her first teachers. Her dad also influenced her to look up to Martin and Stephen Yan.

So, how does Jackie feel now that she’s at the helm of a show that she used to watch while growing up?

She says, “First of all, Del Monte Kitchenomics is a whole team, a very passionate team dedicated to making sure we have easy-to-prepare, good-tasting and healthy food for our home. It’s not just me. Being the one in front of the camera feels great. I know I get to inspire a lot of mothers to cook for their families.”

Through the years, Jackie feels thankful about partnering with other affiliate brands that she considers trade allies, such as Gourdo’s. She adds, “I’ve been teaching for them since 2009 — I am their Wilton Method Instructor for Living Well at Podium. I also do demos for them mostly for Wilton. They also support the Pastry Alliance of the Philippines for competition.”

Of her co-host, Jackie narrates, “Carla is a joy to work with. She’s always early (not just on time). She has no demands, she memorizes all her cues and studies the recipes. She’s very professional and very pleasant. We make kwentuhan with each other in-between takes.”

When she’s not wearing her chef’s hat, Jackie spends time with her family, and loves entertaining guests at home.

With all the fuss usually involved in preparing food at home, Jackie is happy how she can now turn work into child’s play with her latest discovery — the Swissmar brand of kitchenware.

She shares, “This is my new discovery! Now, I can involve my guests into ‘playing’ with me in the kitchen. I can prepare a traditional raclette, a whole Japanese theme party, a kebab party and my guests can make their own corresponding themed recipes — all at one time, all in one machine. The chocolate fondue is the easiest to do and most enjoyable, especially for kids.”

Jackie also dispels some age-old myths about cooks preferring not to eat their own cooking, and if it’s true that the best way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.

She quips, “For the first one, I’d have to say false. That’s why I cooked it, because I want to eat it. As for the second, there are many other ways to a man’s heart. I think my husband would love me just as much if I didn’t know how to cook. But of course, definitely, he enjoys having a chef as a wife, because I also do the cooking at home.”

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