ANGELES, Pampanga -- Renaissance man Claude Tayag finally gets to add TV host to his long resume with the launch of his own cooking show, "Chasing Flavors," which premieres on Saturday, May 27, on cable channel Lifestyle TV.
A chef, painter, sculptor, furniture designer, and food and travel writer, Tayag has long been one of the definitive voices of Philippine cuisine. His restaurant Bale Dutung in Pampanga has shown locals and foreigners alike the intricacies of Pampangueno food with his various interpretations, including modern takes, although always with a sensibility to Filipino flavors and what makes Filipino food inherently ours.
“It’s always the interplay between sweet, salty, and sour,” Tayag explained at a cooking demo during the launch of his show at Bale Datung.
Philippine cuisine has long been his passion, and the way that he enthuses about it is infectious. In "Chasing Flavors," Tayag, a self-taught culinary expert, veers away from the usual format of eating his way in a destination, but instead takes a more logical, scholarly approach -- something novel that hasn’t been done in Philippine TV, and perhaps, suits him to a T.
“Instead of the usual, one destination per episode, and then you exhaust everything about that region -- for example, Ilocos region -- I suggested we do it by cooking method. So my first episode will be adobo, but from different regions. Different chefs, different interpretations of the same adobo. One episode will have 5 segments. I will be all around [the Philippines, and] at the final segment, I will have my own version,” Tayag shared.
Succeeding episodes will feature paksiw, sinigang, kilaw and sisig, pancit, lechon, stews, gata, panghimagas, among others.
“I travelled from north to south, from Batanes to Tawi-tawi, east to west. I’ve been doing this forever, since my 'Linamnam' book, so you can say it is [the] 'Linamnam' book on video, but more in depth,“ the chef added.
“'Linamnam' was eating around, and noting my observations. Ito, maraming interviews with experts on their fields like Felice Sta. Maria for the colonial period, then there’s Micky Fenix, and other editors of food magazines, and I extracted from them, what they know best, so it’s not just my opinion. It’s a conversation such that you would have the expertise of different personalities, not just mine. So in the way, I’m the host/facilitator in this conversation,” he explained.
Part cooking show, part travelogue, "Chasing Flavors" comes at the most opportune time, given the global interest that Philippine cuisine has been generating.
“The thing is like, I’ve been interviewed in more than a dozen local and foreign international shows, so it’s parang ako feeling ko, I’m always the best man, never the groom, but finally here I am!" he said.
"I guess it’s about time, the time is right. This is probably the peak of my career in the sense that having travelled around, having eaten so much, more or less, from what I’ve ingested so far, I can speak authoritatively on Philippine cuisine. So in a way this is a culmination of all those previous experiences,” he said.
"Chasing Flavors" will air every Saturday at 9 p.m., with replays on Sunday (12:30 p.m.), Monday (2 p.m.), Tuesdays (7 p.m.), and Wednesday (11 a.m.) on Lifestyle TV.