Meet the talented 19-year-old aspiring chef who pays tribute to her mom through food

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Meet Bernice Tenorio, a rising culinary star whose mom Lalaine inspired her to hone her talents and to pursue the career of her dreams

Despite being born to a family who experienced financial hardships, Bernice learned how to dream big. Her love for cooking began when she was about 14 years old when her grandmother, who ran a kitchenette out of their home in Marilao, Bulacan passed away. It was left to Bernice’s mommy Lalaine to keep their lola’s love for cooking and heirloom recipes alive.

After winning a grand award for a cooking competition at the age of 19, the culinary world took notice of Bernice Tenorio. She credits her success to her Mommy Lalaine, who she considers her first kitchen hero.

"She’s my first idol and mentor. I learned a lot about cooking from her, I look up to her and I try to mirror her strength: her patience, discipline, resourcefulness, the diligence, and how she handled the nitty-gritty aspects of running our small kitchen while looking after the family’s welfare," marveled Bernice.

"I remember both of us staying up till the wee hours of the morning finishing bulk food orders or decorating cakes for customers. It was tiring but very fulfilling,” recalled Bernice about learning from her mommy Lalaine, who worked as a magazine writer and reporter before becoming a full-time homemaker. Amazingly, Lalaine has had no professional training as a cook. “Just like she would in her cakes and pastry creations, she would strive long and hard in executing to the detail to beautifully achieve the end results.”

"She’s my first idol and mentor. I learned a lot about cooking from her, I look up to her and I try to mirror her strength..."

photos courtesy of Jolly Mushroom

Drawing from her fondest memories as well as the skills she picked up from her mom and education, she bagged the top prize at the Jolly University Year 4 Cook-off. Her winning dish? A delicious Chicken and Mushroom Empanadilla, which was an original recipe she dedicated to her mom, a way of thanking her for all that she’s done for the love of their family.

“I didn’t have a clear sense of winning; the other entries were equally great,” she confided. “It was a tough competition; I just maintained focus and trust in my abilities, and tried my best to apply what I have learned from Mom and from the Jolly University boot camp. I’m pleased to have fought and won the title for my Mom.”

Long before she won this competition, Bernice has been her family’s source of pride. She has always excelled in school and was named valedictorian during grade school. Now, as she’s completing a degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management at the University of Sto. Tomas (UST), she’s also gearing up to represent her alma mater at the Hong Kong Culinary Classics competition.

“If there is one thing that I’ve learned in this journey with my Mom is that there is a reason behind every action that we are doing."

“If there is one thing that I’ve learned in this journey with my Mom is that there is a reason behind every action that we are doing,” shared the aspiring chef. “Whether good or bad, you learn from the experience and you’ll come out as a better person. There’s still a long road ahead of me. But with perseverance, guidance, and constant love and support from my loved ones especially my mother, I know many wonderful things will happen eventually.”

Kudos to you, mommy Lalaine and all the other selfless moms who tirelessly guide and equip their kids with the necessary ingredients in order to pursue their dreams!

Learn more about Bernice and Lalaine's story, below!

READ: 5 ways to give your kids cooking skills: how to teach children how to cook

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