Chef Anton Amoncio, 27, recently won the Food Hero contest in which he beat chefs from other Asian countries
So what’s cooking, Chef Anton?
FUNFARE - Ricky Lo (The Philippine Star) - November 22, 2016 - 12:00am

We are at a cozy café in the Timog-Morato area, and I’m having a mouth-watering conversation with Chef Anton Amoncio, 27, who recently won the Food Hero contest in which he beat chefs from other Asian countries.

In front of Anton at the table is the Salpicao that he has ordered. I take note of the “production design,” with the veggies around the little chunks of beef so beautifully arranged.

“The food has to be presentable,” starts Anton before he even takes a bite. “They really took time to set it up. You know we believe in the saying that the eye eats first. If it doesn’t look nice and appetizing, better not eat it.”

Are you going to rate the food here? I ask Anton.

“No, no,” he blushes and starts his lunch with the veggies.

Aside from the “production design,” when you order food, what else do you check?

“I make sure that the meat is done well, it should be cooked through because I don’t want to suffer from food poisoning. The cooking method for vegetables is called blanching before you sauté them with salt and pepper. You blanch them with boiling water and then you put them down in iced water to finish the process.”

For comfort food, Anton swears by his grandmother’s Tinolang Manok or Chinese Adobo.

“My grandma loves viand cooked with tausi (the Temple brand black beans) and congee. Sarap!”

And for the best mami (chicken or beef) that my friends and I have ever tasted, I recommended Ling Nam (on T. Alonzo Street, Ongpin) to Anton. Or, for fast food, the Eng Bee Tin restaurant also in Ongpin (one time, I saw Jullie Yap-Daza and some friends eating there). Favorite item is Fishball Soup (served only until 6 p.m., so you better go there early). Or Mimosa restaurant which is the favorite of the old Chinese (Regal Matriarch Mother Lily Monteverde and my late dad included). Try the Maki and the Machang, I told Anton, or the Pansit Canton or Pansit Bijon served overflowing on Chinese bowls. A block away on Florentino St., you will find Hen Wah where my friends and I go for Camaron Rellenado and many more tummy-filling dishes at reasonable prices.

Anton keeps nodding and nodding while he finishes his Salpicao, saying, “Okay, I will try them, all of them!”

Then, we talk about topics other than food. The Food Hero contest that he won, especially. When did you start cooking?

“Oh, since I was eight years old. I learned the ABCs of cooking from my grandma. A lot of pointers! Don’t overdo the seasoning, etc. Cut the meat in small slices so they can be cooked fast. So many pointers.”

I wonder, is it bad to store up noodles or spaghetti in the ref (lest you get food-poisoned)?

“Not if it’s dried pasta. Bacteria thrives in the wet ones.”

After that brief chat with Anton, I get so hungry that (since I beg off from taking lunch at the café) as soon as I get home, I prepare my favorite comfort food ­— yes, scrambled eggs with black beans, served with a bowl of porridge. Burp, burp!!!

Next time I see Anton, I think I will make him include that in his recipes.

(E-mail reactions at entphilstar@yahoo.com. You may also send your questions to askrickylo@gmail.com. For more updates, photos and videos visit www.philstar.com/funfare or follow me on www.twitter/therealrickylo.)

CHEF ANTON
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