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JC Cailles Lo: On envisioning a world-class Filipino fine dining industry and going beyond borders

#IamBeyondStories | It is safe to say that fine dining is not for everyone. Ordering unpronounceable food and sipping expensive wine is not most people’s cup of tea, which is why Chinoy entrepreneur and fine dining enthusiast JC Cailles Lo’s goal is to introduce more Filipinos to a one-of-a-kind dining experience.

Starting out as a foodie

JC did not become a fine dining connoisseur overnight. Some would have expected that he would take a course related to food and cuisine such as culinary arts or hotel and restaurant management but not known to all, he took up BS Applied Corporate Management at the De La Salle University – Manila.

His original plan was to become a top executive of a multinational corporation and he toiled day and night for this, having worked at Procter & Gamble for quite some time. Eventually, his Chinoy traits kicked in and he wanted to become his own boss, hence, setting aside his original plan and focusing instead on what makes him the happiest: food!

“I love checking out new restaurants. My travel itinerary when I go out of the country revolves around having bookings to the best restaurants I can afford. I do my restaurant bookings first before I decide on the other tours/ attractions,” JC shared. 

Translating his passion into work

His enthusiasm and passion for fine dining manifested in him founding the Fine Dining Club of the Philippines. This exclusive club was established in 2019 and is currently a growing community of 10,000+ members, from chefs, avid foodies, media personalities, and restaurant owners who all share the same love for food and fine dining. 

Through the Fine Dining Club of the Philippines, members get to exchange discoveries by posting photos and personal reviews of their dining experiences at different world-class dining establishments in the country. It is also a venue for chefs and restaurant owners to promote their restaurants through tasting menus, wine dinners, afternoon teas, and Sunday brunches. Occasionally, they also gather as a group to support different restaurants. 

“I met a lot of amazing people through this group. I’ve assisted numerous couples on where they should go out on a date, gave venue recommendations for their family reunions, and even went out of my way to facilitate their reservations haha. The group has been a launch pad of several establishments,” he said.

Aside from being a founder of an exclusive dining club, JC is also an entrepreneur in the wine industry through his brainchild, JC Wines

For JC, JC Wines is more than just any other wine shop. “I don’t see myself as just selling wines. We educate our consumers about wine and food pairing because I believe wine is the best partner to enhance one’s dining experience. We make wines less intimidating and not overwhelming for consumers,” he shared.

Going beyond the usual Chinoy norms

JC proclaims that he is a living representation of a Chinoy who goes against tradition. He considers himself a modern Chinoy who is not bound by common practices he grew up with.

“For example, I don’t believe so much in Feng Shui, I trust my instincts instead. I hated Math in school, I excelled in History, and I am not the type who likes to look for the lowest price in the market or asks for too much discount, I am for quality and best value,” he said. 

Keeping this mindset is what allowed JC to venture into paths not taken by the traditional Chinoy, which eventually led to his success today in the fine dining industry.

 For him, going beyond borders is important because it means being able to push yourself to go out of your comfort zone. “You won’t see the necessary improvements and changes that you want to see if you keep doing the same old things or if you are bound by customs,” he said.

JC also proves that his passion for promoting fine dining in the Philippines is more than just a personal project, it is a passion that goes beyond himself and resonates with the community. 

“With all that I’ve been contributing for our Fine Dining Club, I only have one clear vision – that someday, I want to see The Philippines to be one of the Premier Culinary Destinations in the world. I want to see local restaurants having Michelin Stars in the future and to be part of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list,” he proudly shared.

Through JC’s story, it is evident to see that success in any industry is a possibility–you just have to be willing to move out of your comfort zone.

To hear more stories like these, tune in to CNN Philippines every Sunday at 8pm as CHiNOY TV once again presents inspiring stories from season 2 of Chinese by Blood, Filipino by Heart. With replays on Wednesdays at 8pm on CHiNOY TV’s Facebook Page and YouTube Channel, and Saturdays at 6:30pm on CNN Philippines.

Do you also have an inspiring story that goes beyond the usual norm, culture and stereotype? Share your story with the community:

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