Pilar Valdes has been Drew Barrymore's personal chef for about three years already. Screengrab from The Drew Barrymore Show
Food & Drink

How Drew Barrymore fell in love with this Pinay chef’s cooking

“My relationship with Drew is really very, very loving, and we communicate in a very odd way. All our love notes to each other are doggy-eared recipes and photos of food on Instagram.”  
RHIA GRANA | Jan 14 2021

Hollywood actress Drew Barrymore couldn’t stop raving about Filipina chef Pilar Valdes’ Roast Tomatillo Roblano Soup in a recent episode of Drew’s Kitchen on The Drew Barrymore Show. 

“It’s one of my favorite soups of yours. It was such a revelation the first time I had it,” says the actress-turned-talk show host, while helping herself to spoonsful of the hearty concoction. “I’ve never tasted anything like it.”

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This is actually the second time that the New York-based chef guested on Drew’s show. First was last October when she taught the star of “Santa Clarita Diet” and mother of two how to make Creamy Quinoa Risotto

Pilar has been the American actress’ personal chef for about three years already. Drew obviously adores Pilar’s cooking as it helped stave off her weight gain “without having to do like [the] chicken and broccoli thing” which she thinks won’t be “sustainable for happiness.”

Drew shares in the October episode that Pilar’s culinary prowess allowed her to enjoy “craving dishes” that are “really healthy and great for digestion and keeps the weight off.” She says she couldn’t be happier with the results.

Pilar reveals that one of the reasons why she gravitated towards cooking is “really me missing home, missing that feeling of community, of people around a table.” Screengrab from The Drew Barrymore Show

BFFs

Drew and Pilar’s relationship has obviously gone beyond mere chef-and-client, as Drew now describes Pilar as “one of my dearest friends.”

“Pilar and I almost literally spend every day together, and we love food, we love laughter, and we love traveling the globe,” Drew says in the current episode of her show.

Drew nicely sums up their similarities and shares how food brought them together. “You’re self-taught, I’m self-made,” she says, talking to Pilar who is also the chef and co-owner of catering company Kickshaw Cookery. “It proves you don’t have to have a degree, you don’t have to have a certain economic or cookie cutter journey. You can find yourself wherever you are in the world. You’re in Manila, I was here, and here we are together.”

The 45-year-old actress says her relationship with Pilar is unique as they “speak in cookbooks and visuals and Instagram posts…” In fact, the self-confessed cookbook junkies built their collection together, as per Drew.

Pilar echoes this in a video that introduces the cooking segment in the latest episode (we saw it posted on the Instagram of her sister, the jewelry designer Bea Valdes). “My relationship with Drew is really very, very loving, and we communicate in a very odd way. All our love notes to each other are doggy-eared recipes and photos of food on Instagram.”

They also share a “nostalgic love” for cream of mushroom soup that their moms used to cook for them. “What binds us is how we’re living our lives now and how we choose to honor our past and our families,” says Pilar.

Pilar with sisters Marga and Bea on the cover of Philippine Tatler

Getting into culinary

Pilar finding her way in the realm of the culinary arts may seem unlikely in the beginning. Her LinkedIn profile reveals that she took up Cinematography and Film/Video Production at the University of the Philippines, as well as Liberal Arts and Sciences, General Studies and Humanities at the esteemed Sarah Lawrence College in New York.

Pilar also seemed to have an affinity for advocacy work, as she served as program associate of Funders Collaborative on Youth Organizing and as deputy director of Global Action Project. Both non-profit organizations focus on promoting youth development and social justice.

In her interview, Pilar reveals that one of the reasons why she gravitated towards cooking is “really me missing home, missing that feeling of community, of people around a table.” And so, she throws dinner parties with whoever would be willing to enjoy her food.

In the summer of 2010, Pilar and her friend and business partner Binh Ly decided to form Kickshaw Cookery (“kickshaw typically means a delicacy, a tasty tidbit,” according to its website), a lunch delivery service that eventually morphed into a catering company.