Chef Jose Sarasola blessed with a flavorful career in GMA

KAPUSO DAY - Angel Javier Cruz - The Philippine Star
Chef Jose Sarasola blessed with a flavorful career in GMA
Chef Jose hosts the second season of the cooking show, Eat Well, Live Well. Stay Well, with Iya Villania.
STAR / File

As children, we would be asked countless times what we wanted to be when we grew up. The answers ranged from the safe and vague — like doctor, teacher, engineer or architect — to the more specific like fashion designer, rocket scientist or deep-sea diver.

Now, people want to be Internet famous. One need only imagine the millions of TikTok users offering minute-long make-up tutorials, cooking lessons or dance moves for everyone to see.

While TV personality and celebrity chef Jose Sarasola could very well have taken the easy route back then, he enrolled in BS-HRIM (Hotel, Restaurant and Institution Management) and graduated from De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde. His major in Culinary Arts armed him with the know-how and gave him the courage to put up his own resto-bar, Avenue 75, in BF Homes, Parañaque over a decade ago.

The establishment is known for its bar chow that includes sisig, crispy pata, assorted pizza, chicharron and burgers. At the start of the pandemic last year and the succeeding lockdowns that forced him to halt operations, Chef Jose carefully considered his options.

“I was saying to myself, ‘It’s been 10 years, it’s been a good run and shutting down because of the pandemic is nothing to be ashamed of,’ but then I had a change of heart,” he narrated.

He realized that Avenue 75 had lasted this long because it had been doing something right, something that customers appreciated and willingly came back for.

“It’s because of the food service we provide. I believe food always has to be consistent plus the staff always treats customers well and with respect.”

Many of his staff have been with him since Day One and as such, are considered family.

To improve the resto-bar’s sales and entice customers to order takeaway during those lean months, Chef Jose came up with promotions and discounts that he posted on social media. His efforts were not in vain. Five months ago in February, Avenue 75 marked its 11th anniversary.

Despite his obvious affinity to all things culinary, Chef Jose said that when he was younger, he wasn’t that into food and learning how certain dishes were made.

“I can’t say I’ve always been interested but I made my first dish of pancakes with my mom when I was really young, like eight years old… maybe it was a sign of things to come.

“Besides college, I watched a lot of cooking shows on TV and on the Internet to find out new trends in the culinary world. The first thing I cooked properly and was really proud of was my Rosemary Chicken,” he added.

Now, he likes to cook Spanish, Thai and Italian dishes. He’s also a big fan of Japanese food.

If he were given the chance to star in his own cooking show, what would it look like?

“I’d actually like something that involves cooking outdoors, for example in front of a beach, in a forest, on top of a mountain or next to a river or lake. That would be fun and I would use the local produce of the area to make my dish.”

Chef Jose recently marked his first anniversary as a GMA artist and is excited for what the network has in store for him. For now, he’s busy doing the second season of Eat Well, Live Well. Stay Well, a cooking show in GMA Network which he co-hosts with Iya Villania-Arellano.

“I just want to keep on going in terms of what I’m doing now — being a celebrity chef, endorser, actor, business owner. I’m balancing it all and it’s working so I’ll just continue what I’m doing and appreciate all the blessings coming my way,” he said.

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