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Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

Oct 7, 2016

Meet Chef Anton Amoncio, One Of The Top Four Finalists In Singapore's 'Asian Food Hero' Competition

DON’T LOOK NOW but a young Pinoy chef is currently one of the Top 4 finalists of the show “Asian Food Hero” shown on the Asian Food Channel, Singapore’s leading food-centered channel shown in the Asia Pacific region. He is Anton Amoncio, who’s turning 28 on December 12. He sent his entry on line, his version of tinolang manok with native chicken, malunggay and watermelon instead of papaya. There were hundreds of entries and 10 semi-finalists were called back for the second round. He then sent his version of adobong manok sa gata and made it to the final 4.

An only child, he learned how to cook at 8 years old, inspired by his own maternal grandmother. “My mom used to work in Singapore so I was left with my dad and my lola,” he says. “While my lola cooks, I’d watch her and started by helping her out in the kitchen. The first dish I cooked at 8 is bagoong rice. My mom was shocked when she learned I was cooking as people say it’s for girls. So I repressed my passion to cook and, in college, I enrolled at St. Benilde taking up music production. But I wasn’t able to finish it and eventually transferred to Center for Culinary Arts to master the art of cooking.”

After finishing his culinary course, he worked for a while at Purple Feet Resto in Makati then, at the age of 24, put up his own restaurant, Antojos, where he offers traditional dishes with a new twist, first in San Juan then in Banawe St. “But I’ve closed it as the location is not good,” he says. “People are always complaining of heavy traffic there. We’ll reopen soon in a better location in Makati.”

Since then, he has hosted many cooking portions on TV, like “Kitchen Hirit” in “Unang Hirit” where he had fun working with hosts Suzi Abrera and Susan Enriquez. He was also featured in “Gandang Ricky Reyes”, “ANC Mornings” and “Kasama Mo Jessica Soho”.

“Many people think being a chef is a glamorous job but it’s really a lot of hard work,” he says. “When I’m in the kitchen, you won’t recognize me. Ilang beses na akong natalsikan ng mainit na mantika sa mukha and once, muntik nang masunog ang eyebrows ko. But I love cooking, it’s my passion.”

Anton has the good looks of a heartthrob so it’s not surprising he has a lot of fans who’ll pray for him when he goes to Singapore on October 18 to compete in the finals of “Asian Food Hero”. “I will be cooking on camera a dish good for 120 people who will serve as the judges. This is the 5th year of the show and all the past winners are women. I’m competing with two boys and one girl. One is from Thailand and the other two are from Malaysia.”

Hopefully, this year, the winner will be a male. And it will be a Filipino. So let’s all pray and root for Chef Anton.