The world-famous cooking competition is back for 2018 and fans can hardly wait. Season 9 is especially exciting because the show welcomes back former judge and fan favorite Joe Bastianich, who joins Gordon Ramsay and Aarón Sanchez on the panel. Just like the former seasons, audiences can expect 24 home cooks to battle it out for the title of MasterChef, $250,000, a cookbook deal, and a spot on the MasterChef cruise.
It’s no surprise that the show has gained the success it has, given that cooking is one of the most beloved crafts worldwide. A big factor of MasterChef’s appeal is also that it features home cooks — amateurs who just enjoy cooking casually in their own kitchens. Viewers who also spend time whipping up dishes in their own homes can really relate to their journeys, as well as be able to learn alongside them.
After all, most people if not everyone has dabbled in cooking. Whether just a skill to survival or a real passion, cooking truly is relevant today more than ever — especially here in the Philippines, where we love to cook, share, and celebrate food with almost anyone.
To welcome the new season of MasterChef U.S., we spoke to two Filipino chefs who shared their own passions for cooking.
1. Rexmond Chua – Head chef and owner of Hawker Food House, Makati
36-year-old Rexmond has been in the food industry for 14 years. He got his start in 2004 when he decided to leave his banking job to pursue a culinary diploma in Singapore. After quitting his job, he secured an internship at Diamond Hotel, which helped prepare him for culinary school.
“My mother is a big influence,” Chua shared. “I have been cooking since I was young but only thought of making a career out of it when I felt that I was getting nowhere working at the bank.”
Chua also shares that as a chef, he enjoys the cooking process itself as well as tasting his creations. Because of his love of cooking, he highly encourages Filipinos to learn how to cook as well.
“It is a life skill. If you know how to cook, you will never be hungry. Plus, cooking demands a certain amount of discipline that is applicable to life itself,” he said. And to those learning how to cook and wanting to improve their skills, he has this piece of advice to share: “Just keep on cooking. Keep an open mind, travel and learn from others.”
2. Alejandro Lazaro III – Chef and owner of Milagros Private Kitchen, Tagaytay City
Alejandro “Al” Lazaro is a 46-year-old chef and culinary arts teacher at Lyceum of the Philippines University in Cavite. With 18 years of experience in the culinary industry under his belt, he also owns and runs Milagros Private Kitchen, where he loves keeping things in tip-top shape. While he’s been working in the industry for almost two decades, his passion for cooking started before that.
“In high school, [I was] influenced by my grandmother and mother. We grew up in Malabon and in Malabon, everything is centered on food — gatherings, celebrations and family affairs revolved around food. Growing up, I saw that food was essential in binding family and friends together,” Lazaro shared.
In his kitchen, Lazaro says that he enjoys creating the menu, ensuring the quality of food, and mentoring younger cooks the most.
“Food is essential in life. I am passionate about creating dishes, which not only provide sustenance but also create an experience for those who eat them,” Lazaro added. And to aspiring chefs, his advice is: “Cook with your heart and always remember who you are cooking it for. Always remember the food that makes an impact — dining is a sensory experience that holds not only flavor and taste but also memories. Make food that creates memories for you and your guests.”
Watch all seasons and be the first to catch season 9 of MasterChef on FOX+!