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Filipino Chef Named Brixton Kitchen’s “Next Top Chef”

Chef Budgie Montoya brings home the bacon during the latest Brixton Kitchen competition. Photo courtesy of Sarap London

The Filipino chef behind London’s phenomenal pop-up Sarap London bagged the top prize in the first Brixton Kitchen competition aimed at finding the 2the next big talent in food.”  Chef Ferdinand Budgie Montoya bested other finalists last 04 April with his innovative take on Filipino cuisine. Montoya competed under the Experienced Chefs category, which pitted him against some of the UK’s most seasoned chefs.

Montoya won a six-month residency in Brixton Village this summer, giving him the opportunity to bring Filipino cuisine in one of the UK’s culinary capitals.  A panel composed of Brixton Village director Alistair Maddox, Great British Menu winner Chef James Cochran, Chef Jackson Boxer, and pastry chef Clair Ptak judged the final round of the competition.

“I think tradition should always be respected but never a restriction. In order for Filipino cuisine to move forward we need to not only look at our culinary traditions but to inject our own personal experiences,” said Montoya.  I don't need to convince Filipinos that our cuisine is delicious, the challenge is convincing the rest of the world without compromising on the authenticity of our flavours.

Montoya is well-known in the UK for his innovative takes on traditional Filipino cuisine. His specialties such as Lechon London and pork bbq skewers have gained a steady following regardless of the location of his residency. Currently, Montoya’s Sarap is cooking at Sun & 13 Cantons in Soho. He was also the first Filipino to participate in Meatopia, the UK’s biggest meat festival.

“Chef Budgie’s victory is a stride forward in making Filipino cuisine known in the UK,” said Ambassador Antonio M. Lagdameo.  His six-month residency at the bustling Brixton Kitchen is a great opportunity to share with the UK and the world the richness of our culinary heritage.”

(Top to bottom) Sisig, halo-halo, and adobo are three Filipino dishes included in Lonely Planet’s Ultimate Eatlist.  The list was drawn by the Lonely Planet community of travellers and foodies, as well as an international panel of chefs and food correspondents.  Image by (counterclockwise): Lonely Planet, The Vagrant Companion, Juan Paulo Gutierrez (via Getty Images), and DGBB.

Three Filipino dishes are named by Lonely Planet among the world's top 500 food experiences.  Sisig, halo-halo, and adobo made it into the latest edition of the Lonely Planet Ultimate Eatlist, a compendium of "the world's most memorable eating experiences."

"Filipino food doesn't get a lot of international play compared with other Asian cuisines.  And that's unfortunate as anyone who has tasted sisig knows,” stated an entry on the iconic Kapampangan pork dish.  Sisig ranked highest among the other Filipino dishes in the list.

The list was drawn up by the Lonely Planet community of travellers and foodies.  The entries were evaluated by a panel of 20 chefs and food writers and was ranked based on taste, cultural significance, and uniqueness of location.

"The world has yet to fully discover Filipino cuisine," said Ambassador Antonio M. Lagdameo.  "At the Embassy, we share the Filipino community's insatiable appetite to show the world what they are missing an exciting culinary experience when they miss out on Filipino food."

Since 2018, the Embassy through its Cultural Diplomacy Unit has initiated various efforts to promote Filipino food in the UK and Ireland such as strengthening its ties with the growing number of Filipino Food advocates to engaging the UK's culinary tastemakers.  The spike in the number of Filipino restaurants, pop-ups, and supper clubs in the UK, for example, shows the growing interest in Filipino food in the region.

The book is available in all major bookstores in the UK and may also be purchased online through Lonely Planet and Amazon.

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