LONDON - The antics of a Filipino chef at a restaurant in the British capital has become a viral hit after he wowed a crowd of diners in a candid YouTube video posted by a customer.
The video called “Funny Filipino Chef” has been making the rounds in the internet after it was posted on YouTube by Jeff Alagar on July 10.
It has so far amassed more than 120,000 views on YouTube, and was also picked up by viral website TrendCup, which estimates that the video has already been shared on social media nearly 20,000 times at the time of publishing this article.
At the center of it all is Filipino chef Charlie Bueno - mistakenly referred to as Charles Miguel in some of the posts online - who works at Japanese restaurant Benihana in Piccadilly, where the video was filmed.
His upbeat demeanor, playful personality and acrobatic cooking skills became the perfect recipe for a viral hit online, turning the 41-year-old chef into an internet star.
“I wasn't aware of it until my son told me about it. I was too busy working to pay my mortgage and provide for my family. I don’t really do social media that much. But it’s good. I hope it brings me good things,” he told ABS-CBN Europe.
Originally from Zambales, Bueno moved to the UK in 2006 after working in Manila and Dubai for several years. He got his first big break as a steward, or dishwasher, at EDSA Shangri-La hotel in 1990, and slowly worked his way up the culinary industry.
From his humble beginnings, the self-taught chef has since cooked for VIPs from Asia to Europe, including royalty from The Netherlands and Dubai, British pop icons like Brian May from Queen and Ronan Keating from Boyzone, and even Filipino celebrities like Kris Aquino.
In 2012, he also appeared as a guest chef at British noontime show "Let’s Do Lunch with Gino and Mel" on ITV, showing his distinctive brand of outrageous live cooking to a wider British audience.
“I give all of my passion to cooking,” he said. “It’s what I remember from my parents when I started. They told me to always remember that this was a gift from God, and that I was lucky to be doing what I do. They told me to keep pushing myself and to give it my all.”
With over 20 years of experience in the industry, he has developed a personal style which has proven popular with London diners, some of whom have become his regular customers.
“These videos were put by customers themselves voluntarily. Benihana isn’t involved much in it, but we are so happy with the result. Of course, Charlie did a fantastic job that’s why he’s become so popular now and also so many countries know about him now,” said Ben Sun, manager at Benihana Piccadilly.
“His tricks are very inspiring to people sometimes. We have a lot of customers that keep coming back to Benihana and every single time they request Charlie to cook for them.”
Despite all the attention, however, Bueno insists on staying humble and wishes to simply continue working his way up the career ladder in culinary arts. He wants to do well for his wife and child in London, to whom he dedicates all his achievements so far.
“I know a lot of people who are better than me, and despite all this attention I’m not perfect. Nobody’s perfect. But when I’m in front of people cooking, I give it my all. No matter what the situation, whether I’m tired or sad, I try to muster something just to entertain and make them happy,” he explained.
With the viral video still making its rounds online, the energetic chef is also hoping to get some exposure in his native country, the Philippines, where he dreams of someday sharing his cooking antics with fellow Filipinos through appearances in television shows.