Felix Delano Chingkoe II has one passion he loves most: to develop and create a world-class fusion of Asian and Western cuisine.
“Even before I graduated college, I’ve always had an interest and passion for food. I would always find myself curious for answers as to how certain dishes were prepared, what technique and unique ingredients were added to it that made it memorable,” the Filipino-Chinese 26-year-old chef said.
He is the eldest of four siblings, having two sisters and one other brother. Felix arrived home from Canada last December and upon knowing that he was back in Manila, old friends who already belong to the food business immediately contacted him for help.
“Right now, I’m doing a project based menu developing for Tokyo Café. I plan on continuing to develop menus for catering businesses on the side,” he said.
This coming August, food enthusiasts are going to have a taste of his newest menu to be launched by Tokyo Café that can be found in SM North Edsa in Metro Manila.
A son of a businessman, Felix could have easily got his own restaurant but he is not rushing things to happen as he wants to build it on his own money and sweat, a personal conviction his father admires him for. The young chef could have easily gone under the wing of his father’s lucrative business, given the fact that he also graduated with a degree in Bachelor of Arts in Humanities, majoring in Management at the University of Asia and the Pacific back in 2006.
But his interest to develop and create new dishes is so persistent that he was finally able to convince and fully take the support of his parents to try the food industry. “It was because of all these reasons that led me to my decision to pursue culinary studies in Canada. Studying culinary abroad in a country such as Canada allowed me to experience and be introduced to different cuisines and techniques from around the world.”
If that is not impressive enough, Felix finished his culinary course as a working student. As a holder of Level 2: Food Safety and Serving It Right Certificate, he worked as a bartender at the Metropolitan Bartending School in 2009 where he earned his Bartending Certificate, while taking up his culinary studies.
“After culinary school I applied for a job at the Sheraton Hotel, while having a catering job on the side as well. My catering manager was happy of what I could offer and asked if I could develop their menu for them to keep it up to trend. It was also around this time that I strived to juggle these two jobs along with the Instructor Diploma Course I was taking. It was tough but I still managed to be an ‘A’ student,” he said.
Before all these, Felix also worked at Tim Hortons Café where he worked his way up from cashier, baker, to head supervisor, he was later offered a management position at Starbucks Café.
Although he was learning a lot this side of the coffee business, he left for his passion for cooking and worked in the kitchens of Boston Pizza, Sammy J. Peppers and Cactus Club Café. He also worked at notable fine dining restaurants including Gastown’s Award-Winning “Boneta”, Chop Steakhouse at Sandman Hotel, and Harold’s at Sheraton Hotel and a few local catering companies.
With his growing experience, he managed to place as a Medalist at the 2009 British Columbia Chef Cold Competition in Canada and just this April 2012, as the Unilever Signature Dish Award winner where he got the chance to be trained under world-renowned Chef Marco Pierre White.
Felix earned his Baking and Pastry Arts Diploma back in 2008 at the Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts in Vancouver, British Columbia; French Culinary Arts in 2009, Asian Culinary Arts in 2010, and Provincial Instructor Diploma in 2012, all three at the Vancouver Community College.
When asked about the cuisines he particularly enjoyed during his years as a culinary student, he shares that he is fascinated by the age-old and intricate techniques of French cooking.
“It was the first cuisine I decided to learn in Vancouver. Unlike cooking back home in Manila for family and friends where it was commonly a mix of both Filipino and Chinese techniques, learning the French way of meticulously preparing their food and creating magnificent sauces opened my eyes and imagination as to how flavors could be further mixed to create even better dishes,” he said.
The art of cooking, he said, rests on one’s willingness to learn like how it is to delicately prepare pastries and cakes such as French macarons, Beignet, Canelé, Mille-feuille and many more.
He also mentions that in school, the development and creation of menus mattered a great deal to his instructors. They would always want to see how creative you can become with the flavors, ingredients and combinations you create and develop to bring a simple dish to a whole new level. His employers and instructors often comment him for mixing unique flavors and being passionate about his creativity.
“My instructor would constantly give me scraps of food and see what I could create with them using my own creativity and ability. It was at this point that I discovered my early love affair with creating menus,” Felix said.
Being a culinary student did not only entail cooking for hours and hours but it also include other vital lessons such as menu planning and the costing that comes along with it.
“We had a baking class where my colleagues and I were tasked to come up with our own flavors of ice creams. Some would go wild and creative with their imagination and create flavors like maple bacon any more. I remember making my ice cream but never ended up tasting it, the instructor took the Banana Chai Berry Ice cream home with him,” he recalled.
Not long after he completed his course in slow French cooking, he then decided to take up Asian food as it was and always will be his favorite cuisine.
“I was particularly interested in what the proper techniques of handling cooking materials were, the authentic and traditional ways of preparing dishes and learning how to properly present them,” he said.
Felix believes that the world of culinary arts is moving into a whole new dimension. He shares that even Bizzare Foods host Andrew Zimmern predicted that Filipino food is going to be the next big thing two years from now. Zimmern is a multi-awarded chef, television host, food writer, and teacher.
“With every cuisine and technique learned, I make it a point to constantly go back and find ways on how to twist and turn flavors in order to create something different, one that I am happy with in the hopes of eventually perfecting the dish,” Felix said.
For him, nothing beats coming back home to Manila and being a part of the local scene.
“I would love to work here and see what I can contribute to the Filipino people,” he said with a smile.