Pinoy At Heart

American Chef Anthony Bourdain Has Unfinished Business in the Philippines

Metro Manila

Choose Philippines
Choose Philippines | Apr 25, 2016

World-renowned Chef Anthony Michael Bourdain is widely known for his television shows that feature specialty dishes from around the world. He has showcased the cuisines of countries that are mostly unheard of in the culinary industry and often ignored by many. 

The chef-at-large has been seen going in and out of the Philippines a couple of times. The first one was for the shoot of the fifth season of American travel and food show "No Reservations" in 2009 wherein dishes of the Philippines' capital, Manila, our Culinary Capital, Pampanga, and the Queen City of the South, Cebu, were featured. He tried out the famous lechon of the Visayas and sisig of Central Luzon.

He was next seen on our soil in 2015 when he was putting together a Philippine episode for the premiere of the seventh season of "Parts Unknown," a travel and food show that uncovers lesser known places and explores cultures and cuisine. It was scheduled for airing on April 24, 2016.

In Bourdain's Tumblr episode, he posted a teaser of the said episode and titled his blog entry as "Unfinished Business." What could be the unfinished business of a world-class chef in a small archipelago like ours?

As it turns out, the episode aims to show more than the culinary history of the country and more than the Philippines' tourism. "You will meet, in this episode, one woman — only one (and there are many, many like her) — who, in her 30 years abroad, separated from her children, raised DOZENS of people up, sent them to school, helped to improve their lives, built homes — before finally returning, her kids now middle aged. It is an astounding story — and not at all an unusual one," he said on He's also keen on investigating the lives of overseas Filipinos. "For years now, in hotel bars in Chiang Mai, in lobbies in Singapore, cocktail lounges in Colombo and Kuala Lumpur and Hong Kong, wherever I go, I find a Filipino cover band able, on request, to play Dark Side of the Moon note for note — before moving on to Happy Birthday (in English, German or Cantonese), Patsy Cline, Celine Dion — and then Welcome to the Jungle. I had to know more. Where do they all come from?"

It was almost a tribute to the Filipino nanny who has been with Bourdain's family since his daughter was born. "Vangie was with her from the very beginning of her life and in time my daughter came to know her son, her daughter-in law, their kids — and in time, an extended family and friends — in New Jersey, Southern California and the Bay Area — and of course, most importantly, Jacques, Vangie’s grandson, her best friend, from whom she has been inseparable since infancy — her older brother in every way but biological." Because of this affinity to the Philippine culture, his son grew up eating sisig, sinigang, adobo, and Filipino pastries that even one of the world's best chefs like Bourdain can't produce.

"This is certainly not the definitive show on the Philippines — and it will not be our last show there. I imagine this time around there will be tears. At least I hope so. We tried to do right by people who’ve been very, very good to us," Bourdain ends in his travelogue.

Another foreigner has chosen the Philippines, in more ways than one.


(Quotes and photos from

Other Foreigners Who Chose the Philippines:
1) Amazing Philippines Through the Eyes of Belgian Photographer

2) Italian Filmmaker on Philippine Vacation: "We've Felt like Home..."

3) Californian Traveler: "The warmth and openness of Filipinos stood out for me"


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