Food is the great equalizer.
It might be a cliche thing to say, but the fact that it’s brought up so often most probably means that there might be more than just a grain of truth in the saying. For renowned chef and TV show host Sharwin Tee, this is especially true. After all, with last week’s episode of CHiNOY TV’s Chinese by Blood, Filipino by Heart, Tee was able to open a conversation on his non-traditional choice to pursue the culinary field, as well as his personal mission to bridge cultures through the universal language that is food.
For Tee, there are messages that food shares with people of all ages and all walks of life. Here are some of what the viewers have taken away from it:
Don’t forget your roots.
Right at the beginning of the episode, viewers were treated to the sight of Chef Sharwin Tee’s cooking. As a proud advocate of Chinoy cuisine, Tee describes his interpretation of the culinary fusion to be an innovative intersection of cultures: “[They] are modern interpretations of Chinese dishes but made with Filipino ingredients for Filipino sensibilities.”
In this case, Tee’s highlighted culinary creation was ji dan bing, a popular egg crepe pancake served along the streets of China and Taiwan. Bringing in a personal touch of Filipino flavor, Tee topped the dish with an alavar sauce, passionately explaining the complementary sweet and savory flavors highlighted by the sauce’s coconut milk and taba ng talangka.
“I think the phrase ‘Chinese by blood, Filipino by heart’ is a pretty good description of what I am. I’m a proud son of both cultures. And in anything that I do — whether it’s cooking food or writing my columns and writing my books — I try to showcase the best of both of my heritages,” said Tee.
Regarding the food that he creates, Tee also shared, “Over the years, I’ve sort of realized that the saying is true: The longer you are working as a chef, the more you gravitate towards the food that you grew up with.”
“We’ve been watching Chef Sharwin Tee in his show Curiosity Got The Chef, and we were trying some of his dishes, especially his favorite, bacon. What I’ve learned about his culinary journey is to never forget your roots. Even if he studied abroad, he still cooks Chinese dishes, but with a twist for Filipino taste,” posted Carlo Laudico Hamili.
Meanwhile, Jazzie Gabby commented, “I am inspired by Chef Sharwin Tee’s culinary journey. His life story truly is so inspiring. His passion and love for food drive him into the beloved chef he is today. I love how he shares his skills that highlight Filipino cuisine and takes it to another height.”
“I felt OVERWHELMED and INSPIRED with how Chef Sharwin Tee made it to who he is today. What deeply inspired me is him being so proud to be a Chinoy. He’s proud of being a Filipino. He mentioned that, on one of his shows, he was approached by some spectators [who] commended him on being so fluent in speaking Filipino, and he said, ‘Oo naman, dito ako lumaki e.’
“And I felt that. It’s always been an inspiring journey to see how successful Chef Sharwin has become now. Being an aspiring chef, I also want to be like him. He’s no ordinary chef with his amazing skills. Definitely something worth the recognition!” praised Arvin Jay Enciso.
Don’t stop dreaming.
As a child raised in a Filipino-Chinese household, Tee once believed that there was only a select number of professions that would be accepted by Chinoy parents. Specifically, if you want to be successful, you have to become what Tee calls one of the Big Five: a businessman, lawyer, doctor, engineer, or architect.
“When I was younger, being a chef was a blue-collar job. There was no clear career path. I feel like that was the image of a culinary career that [my parents] had when I first broached the idea of working as a chef,” shared Tee.
“But I think now that’s changed. Now, you can see a lot of Chinoys who are into the food business. They realized that creating restaurants is actually a really great career path for those who are very passionate about food.”
In order to pursue his own passion for food, Tee dressed his plans to enter culinary school in Vancouver with the possibility of migrating to Canada. That’s how he convinced his parents into thinking that the decision was a sound plan. Years later, Tee hasn’t yet followed through on becoming a Canadian citizen. Instead, Tee has established his brand as a Filipino-Chinese chef, having hosted cooking shows, published cookbooks, and even opened a restaurant called the Quirky Bacon.
“There was something saying in me, ‘if you want what you want, then you have to work for it,’” concluded Tee.
“From the story of Chef Sharwin Tee, I have learned that we must follow our heart in pursuing our dreams. This is one of the keys to success because our heart will lead us to where we perfectly belong. In addition to that, we need to learn to be optimistic. We must never give up and we must always look at the brighter side of things.
“I have also seen the remarkable side of Chef Sharwin Tee as he exemplifies his passion for cooking. Such admiring and gratifying qualities are very important, especially to younger generations. These will help us to have harmony in our lives. He enlightened me that, as a person, I need to know my own identity to be able for me to make harmonious relationships with myself, with my family, and with other people,” shared Christopher Gerale.
“I believe in succeeding [with] your dreams. This is possible with support, self-motivation, and desire. Support from others will have you knowing that when something goes wrong or you want to expand your dream they will always have your back. Self-motivation will drive you to get closer and closer to succeeding and desire will make you sure this is what you really want in life,” said Venus Aguilar.
Lastly, Nathan Orticio Domondon concluded: “Someone has rightly stated that, “When you give more importance to your dreams before your fears, then miracles can happen.” Dreams are necessary, but it can only happen when you dream big with your whole heart. Only then will you be able to achieve big dreams.”
Don’t miss the replay of this week’s episode of Chinese by Blood, Filipino by Heart this evening, September 11, at 6:30 PM. Catch the next episode on Sunday at 8 PM. Both episodes will air on CNN Philippines.