Like many of his endeavors that has either morphed into a serious hobby or business, becoming a food vlogger is another accidental discovery for businessman, DJ, and toy art and sneakers collector, Bigboy Cheng. “Bale ang buhay ko yata lahat aksidente lang,” he muses, making an analogy on how Secret Fresh started as an art toy shop and eventually became a pop art gallery. It seems he has never consciously sought being a food vlogger, or a food influencer for that matter, but his many interests tend to lead him there. “Parang dinadala ako dun,” he says.
If you have had the chance to check out his IG @djbigboycheng of late, videos of his food reviews have been taking up more space compared to his usual sneaker unboxing. The change started around February, just before the COVID lockdown. “May nagdala ng isang pagkain, nung sumunod, dalawa na, tapos tatlo. Biglang akisidente naging food vlogger na ako ngayon.”
It started with items like milk tea from Serenitea and soon all sorts have been arriving at his San Juan doorstep—from Filipino street food and delicacies, countless desserts from young, home-based entrepreneurs, to succulent premium steaks from higher end restaurants like a mano by Amado Fores.
A post usually features not only Cheng but his whole gang of regular reviewers he identifies with aliases like Lolo Swaggy, Boy Dilis, Boy Premature and his sneaker unboxing constant Milton Sy aka Anti-Shoe Expert. Each food unboxing is filled with Cheng’s brand of ‘hood humor, that can often start with a half-meant-half-joke expletive, especially if the box is sealed too tightly with a tape or a knot (hint for those planning to send food over). The rowdy dynamics with his friends can easily remind one of a bunch of hungry boys just after a basketball game in the barangay court— but instead of an oily lumpiang toge for merienda, it’s drool-inducing steak from @pit_arsons. And this is what makes Cheng’s vlogs uniquely funny and Filipino and something to look forward to.
He says he doesn’t review every food item sent to him, which can reach to around 10 different kinds per day, but he does taste them all. Just like the great Doreen Fernandez’s way when it comes to food reviews, items that Bigboy feels still need improving won’t make it to his vlog. “Siyempre nahihiya ako—may ibang (food) hindi ako nasasarapan, di ko nalang pino-post. Pag may nagtanong na bakit hindi ko ni-review, sinasabi ko na lang ‘improve na lang natin ng konti then padala na lang ulit’,” he shares.
The food items he is partial to are those from start-ups, especially by young entrepreneurs who are trying to break into the food business which is the reason why you will see him featuring a lot of home-made desserts as well as milk, coffee, or tea-based drinks. He says, “May mga 15-16 years old na nagsa-start mag-negosyo, yun yung may konting push pa ako para makatulong sa kanila.”
When your food is good, Cheng will not hold back his praises which comes in superlatives like “Guys, pati laway ko tumutulo.” “Boss, galing mo!” “Sobrang sarap, grabe!” And then there’s “Foodeye approved!” the first ‘word’ of which sounds like “p*d@y” or the Visayan word for vagina. These are followed by the crunchiest expletives for extra emphasis, and finally a Cheng-signature star rating that begins with the number ‘69’ and ends with something that might offend some of our readers’ sensibilities. You have to be one of the boys to dig his style and humor but it’s all good because he always means well.
“Ang galing sa social media,” he says, “Alam nila pag super sarap dahil sa reaction ko. [Pag masarap yung pagkain] yun talaga yung nagtitrending, yun yung dumadami yung followers ko, and yun yung dumadami yung orders [ng may-ari].” Since his food reviews, he gains around a thousand new followers every week.
Many restaurants and small food businesses have called to thank him for featuring them and this is the part that fulfills him the most. “Tatawag sila sa akin na yung order nila overflowing. ‘Boss, thank you talaga,’ sasabihin nila. Kaya masaya ako,” he says.
A caveat for those wanting to send Cheng items as they read this article: he will not touch pork nor filleted or whole slabs of fish. As to his aversion to pork, he says, he was never into it even as a kid according to his father. Besides, he jokes self-deprecatingly, “Love your own.”
Cheng being the quintessential collaborator, it was just a matter of time before his accidental hobby spawned a new idea. He says he is planning to revive his coffee shop-cum-restaurant which he had to close due to the COVID pandemic. He is reopening it as a grocery and restaurant called Foodeye. The concept is to feature food businesses that have sprung during the pandemic in his vlog. “Balak ko, monthly, mag-guest ng mga bagong restaurant owners or cooks na lumabas ngayong COVID.”
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On top of their guesting stint, these new business owners or start-ups may sell their products at Foodeye which is also located inside Secret Fresh.
This new concept certainly promises more of Bigboy Cheng, the food influencer, in the months to come. And to that, we say, Foodeye Approved! [Supply expletive here].