Chris Urbano’s passion for Pinoy food began during his College years in Manila. Despite being born and raised in Australia, something about Filipino cuisine and culture spoke to him. He found Filipino cuisine to be an interesting and diverse fusion of many influences.
When he moved back to the Philippines two years ago, he came up with the idea to share his passion for Filipino food, language, and humor online through his own show.
“I just went down to the wet market and shot our pilot episode, and it started taking off from there,” recounts the Aussie-born foodie to theAsianparent in an interview.
“I always wondered why Filipino Food hasn’t been more appreciated on the world stage yet,” he recounts. “So there came the idea of cooking Filipino Food for a global audience, but also showcasing that Filipino too can be a truly global cuisines and even be integrated with other international food styles.”
“I just went down to the wet market and shot our pilot episode, and it started taking off from there.”
photo courtesy of Chris Urbano
But his love for cooking began in the first grade when, as a kid growing up in Australia with working parents, he had to learn how to cook his own meals early on.
“Having both parents working and no yaya in Australia, I learned from a young age to cook my own meals and over time I enjoyed doing it more and more. As a student in Southeast Asia, I found that cooking, food, and spending time in the traditional markets we’re a great way to meet people and practice language,” the new dad recalls with fondness. “The market vendors would tell me how to cook Filipino food from scratch using all the proper ingredients – no packet mix or shortcuts. A great window to the people and culture.”
The devoted dad divides his time between tending to his wine distribution business in Manila which focuses on importing boutique Australian wines to provide Pinoy families with great varieties to try in their very own homes.
His varied schedule affords him the freedom to work from home, which gives him more time to spend quality time with his son Anthony James, who is barely two years old, but he’s already following in his dad’s footsteps.
“He enjoys cooking at a young age. He has helped prepare pancakes and scrambled eggs with very minimal supervision quite a few times now. The cooking part is for Mommy and Daddy of course!”
Chris fondly describes A.J. as good-natured, quirky, and funny and possessing a gentleness as well as “a tendency to get so passionate (or determined!) about getting what he wants.” He also shared that his little boy is growing up to be curious and fascinated by how things work.
“What is important for me is showing (my son) what real food is and where it comes from, and then exposing his palate to natural flavors including less sweet, or bitter foods.”
Aside from feeding his little one’s curiosity, the health-conscious dad makes sure to teach his son how to eat right. For parents looking to do the same, Chris’ advice is to “be the example and start them young. If your kids saw you eating unhealthy food that just means that, that is what’s in your kitchen.”
He and his wife Kristel refrain from feeding artificially sweet foods or junk foods until he turns two. “Until now he doesn’t know to ‘want them’,” Chris beams.
Aside from imparting healthy eating habits, Chris has also begun growing and cultivating a garden on his rooftop so he and his family can experience real, raw food like kangkong and sitaw, together.
“What is important for me is showing my son what real food is and where it comes from, and then exposing his palate to natural flavors including less sweet, or bitter foods. Above all, I don’t want him to be one of those kids who in primary school thinks that milk comes from a carton instead of a cow!”
His advice for parents? Start simple. Make cooking a family bonding time.
His wife Kristel is also adventurous when it comes to experiencing new flavors. “She’s Filipino and loves local flavors. She’s not hard to please when it comes to food,” shares Chris. “At the same time, she enjoys interesting flavors and more exotic dishes from around the globe. She lets me experiment with my cooking and eats it like it’s the best thing so no complaints!”
She also enjoys cooking, mostly pasta and baked dishes, and experimenting in the kitchen, exploring “new salad combinations by adding fruits, grains, nuts with vegetables.”
“She is into those huge ‘rainbow’ salads you can find in Instagram, and has on many occasions made them quite successfully,” shares Chris. “She has an insane sweet tooth like a lot of Filipinos, so she can eat a big serve of dessert without the need (or desire!) to share.”
As for dads who want to better their kitchen skills, Chris’s advice is to “just practice and start simple. Start as simple as scrambled eggs and pancakes, which even a toddler can help out with. Make cooking a family bonding time. I didn’t have any formal education in culinary, but because I love eating and trying different cuisines I was able to learn to cook these dishes that I now know.”
Check out more of his recipes at Maputing Cooking.
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