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Food for the heart

Love is in the air and restaurants are surely going to be packed this Valentine’s weekend. But it’s not going to be a problem for Chef Tristan Encarnacion and Chef JP Anglo, who are both ready for those celebrating. Truth is, both chefs have always been working on the red-letter day for as long as they can remember.

“I don’t know about Tristan but I haven’t celebrated Valentine’s Day for a decade,” said JP, who owns a number of restaurants including Cafe Batwan and Sarsa Kitchen.

JP Anglo

JP Anglo

Single but not lonely, JP hopes to find a beautiful fiancée someday. Tristan, on the other hand, is set to marry Kapuso actress Ryza Cenon.

The two chefs share a common background. Back in college, they were too happy-go-lucky in school, they almost got expelled. Eventually, they each found their calling in the kitchen.

Tristan Encarnacion

Tristan Encarnacion

Tristan told me a funny anecdote on how his father, the late beauty guru Jun Encarnacion, forced him to set his priorities straight.

“He said if I don’t succeed in culinary school, he was going to send me to the States to do makeup for the dead. And he was serious! It was called mortuary makeup. Apparently, there is no mortuary makeup expert here in the Philippines so if ever I agreed, I would be the first. In the end, I decided I’d rather wash fresh tomatoes than put makeup on a dead person,” Tristan shared.

He went on to work as an intern cutting tomatoes and flipping burgers at the Marco Beach Hotel in Naples, Florida.

JP, on the other hand, honed his skills in Cordon Bleu Australia. “They kicked my ass over there! They are so hardcore and competitive! It was a painful and beautiful experience at the same time because I really learned a lot,” he said.

I asked JP the pros and cons of dating a chef and he said, “Among the pros, it’s easier to invite a woman over to your home because they know you’re going to cook for her. Women appreciate that they’re being served. Top among cons is us being very busy particularly during important occasions like Christmas and Valentine’s.”

Speaking of Valentine’s, I asked JP what food should I prepare for the occasion and he said, “Kinilaw na oyster, that is the best aphrodisiac ever! They are better than chocolates or a dirty DVD!”