Amid the growing hype for ‘fusion food,’ renowned Pinoy Chef Sandy Daza said he is not a big fan of the trend.

“If I cook the dish my mom would have wanted done it a different way. Her pochero is different from my pochero. But you know I got all kinds of pochero and if I got the best of everything, I combined it and interpret it on my own.” he confided.

“If I go to Thailand I don’t want to eat something that they’re doing to adjust to my palate. I want to eat the locals did. In the same way that I don’t want fusion Filipino food because I want the foreigner to eat it the way we eat it,” Chef Sandy explained further.

Sandy says he gets bothered whenever the likes of international chef Anthony Bourdain would come to the Philippines and is fed with fusion Filipono food. “Sa akin personally, its’ a ‘no-no’. Kinakahiya mo ba yung pagkain natin? Ayusin mo na lang ang preparasyon dahil ‘yun lang naman ang kulang natin. In terms of panlasa masarap ang pagkain natin.”

Take the case of the caldereta, a “Filipino dish with Spanish influence. “When a foreigner tries it, he would say it’s good not really because of the ingredients that they are familiar with like tomato sauce. So it’s not exotic to them,” he explains. “. But if you offer them sinigang, tinola, sisig, lechon Cebu, inasal – Filipino dishes with ingredients they are not familiar with, that becomes interesting and exotic,” Chef Sandy says.

He also explained why he would always be motivated to serve traditional Filipino cuisine together with new Filipino recipes “I’ll have the kare-kare or the adobo, kasi I like to eat them everywhere., If I hear somebody’s Kare-kare is good I’ll try to find out and if it’s better than mine, I’m going to try duplicating the level or the quality of the Kare-kare to make it better.”

Still, Sandy has created foodstuff that he considers his own. There’s his so-called family recipe of century egg salad, which he considers his discovery. The stuffed pechay which he says was his invention.

He had also developed the cauliflower fried rice, with his own sigarilyas and laing rcipe. His chicken gyosa may look Japanese, but he says it’s his personal recipe. “Filipino naman yung taste ng chicken at balat ng manok. Sino ba may ayaw n’yan?”



In going around the country, he has learned to prepare his version of the Dinakdakan dish from Ilocos Norte and the papaitan, which he says would need an “acquired taste” later for these regional dishes to be appreciated.

Lately, he has been serving Okoy, which had been a “bakya favorite” like the popular banana cue. “It’s a relationship. If people start trusting me and say masarap ‘yang okoy, ordinary iyan pero subukan nga natin.

“My conclusion has always been that in the end, Filipinos will always go back to Filipino food as long as prices are reasonable,” he says.

Joel C. Paredes

Joel briefly served government as director-general of the Philippine Information Agency (PIA), although he has been a practicing journalist and writer for nearly 37 years. He led a team organized by the University of the Philippines Los Banos (UPLB)  and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) that worked on the book entitled “Protecting our Natural Wealth, Enhancing our Natural Pride.”