Father-son tandem wins '24-Hour Restaurant Battle'

By Don Tagala, ABS CBN North America News Bureau

Posted at Sep 01 2010 12:32 PM | Updated as of Sep 02 2010 01:35 AM

A Filipino-American father and son team recently won the $10,000 prize for putting up the restaurant of their dreams in only 24 hours.

The popular episode of Food Network’s “24-Hour Restaurant Battle” aired on August 18.

Chef Andrew Dizon had only one teammate in mind when he decided to join the reality TV show on the Food Network. He teamed up with his father, Ladd Dizon.

The challenge was to come up with a fully functional restaurant within 24 hours, from the restaurant design to a winning menu that would attract customers.

“It was extremely challenging. Opening a restaurant in 24 hours is impossible. Losing a restaurant in 24 hours is easy,” said Chef Andrew.

His father is no stranger to home cooking. But cooking for at least 75 strangers on national television is something he was not trained for.

But Chef Andrew was determined to get the word out on national TV on what Filipino food is all about.

His menu consisted of oxtail “Kare-Kare,” beef tongue “Lengua”, bittermelon or ampalaya stuffed with shrimp, spring rolls for appetizers and banana turon ice cream for dessert.

“I love those. I mean those are my favorite dishes. I didn’t want a beefsteak and do something mainstream, and not have tasted it. These dishes, we’ve made numerous times and I was comfortable making them, and I knew it tasted good,” Chef Andrew said.

Judges felt that the Dizons’ menu was too ethnic and had no room for non-Filipinos to be brave enough to try the foreign sounding menu.

Chef Andrew’s aunt who saw the episode said, “They took the risk of making something different, especially for people who are not familiar with ox-tail and beef tongue.”

Ladd added, “I can’t believe na I cooked so much tongue in my life, and so many ox tails in my life. Thank you, Lord, parang it’s a miracle.”

The judges’ feedback was right. Most of the customers shied away from their menu and jumped to the competitors’ restaurant. But Chef Andrew had an idea.  He offered a lumpia sampler to get customers in. His tactic worked and customers decided to give the restaurant a try.

But come judging time, Andrew learned a valuable lesson about himself and his relationship with his dad.

Chef Andrew’s brother Keith said, “The way my brother and my dad work are actually how they are in real life. My brother has that ego where he wants to be the center of attention of things, and my dad really is a humble person.”

Chef Andrew added, “You start to realize they have a point. I sounded horrible, I sounded greedy, selfish. You start to rethink how you are as a person.”

In the end, the Dizons said they were more than just $10,000 richer. As a result of the competition, the family became closer than ever before.

The Dizons said they are still chasing their dream of putting up their own restaurant soon. Most likely, they said it would be named ‘NOY’ after the name of the fictional restaurant they used in the show. It’s short for “Pinoy.” Balitang America