By Monica Araneta Tiosejo
The Filipino cookbook author, who is also a food consultant, event organizer, and a “Hainan Chicken Ricer,” has been writing since he was in college. After graduating, Angelo Comsti worked in publishing, where he was exposed to and then immersed in the food industry. Soon after, he took up professional culinary studies at Le Cordon Bleu, Sydney, and worked for Australian chef Neil Perry. When Comsti returned to Manila, he married both professions and began writing cookbooks. Also Filipino: 75 Regional Dishes I Never Had Growing Up is his fifth baby.
The author’s fifth cookbook
Why 75 dishes? He says 75 was what he could gather given the deadline. The cookbook is a record of his 22-province journey and introduces readers to regional dishes like Cavite’s Calandracas and Pampanga’s Pulutok. The compilation is impressive and illustrates diversity and deliciousness.
Comsti admits he grew up thinking Filipino cuisine was the food served at home, his home. Having traveled around the country, new discoveries expanded his worldview, giving him real vision, which he hopes to share with readers.
“My past cookbooks are about the dishes I grew up eating—adobo, kaldereta, sinigang—as well as my friends’ [dishes] via family heirloom recipes. This kind of completes my take on Filipino cuisine (familiar and unfamiliar) though there still are hundreds of food I have yet to discover,” he says.
Comsti has always appreciated food that’s well-balanced in texture and flavor, food that impresses in taste, more than technique. He believes what makes Filipino cuisine special is its diversity, deriving from many influences, indeed, making it a little difficult to define. With this new cookbook, the Food Dude lets the food do the talking.
“Since Pinoy cuisine is very personal, I made sure to include the stories behind the dishes—from how Tessie of Malabon has made a living out of selling triangle-shaped turon called Triangulo Valencia to how Cavite’s Calandracas was born (out of wakes),” he says.
Also Filipino: 75 Regional Dishes I Never Had Growing Up is published by RPD Publications.