Usually it’s the white chefs who insult Asian food due to their lack of knowledge and exposure to good Asian food. Imagine the uproar when a Filipino-Norwegian restaurateur dissed Filipino food on national television!
During a live segment on the TV show 4-stjerners middag, Jonathan Romano, a sushi chef and MasterChef Norway judge, said Filipino is “very bad.”
“It’s very bad food. In the eyes of a chef, there is no food art in my eyes, unfortunately. Lots of deep-fried, lots of fried-to-death stuff like casserole dishes if you can put it that way,” he said.
“They do not have the same taste composition as Thai food. Filipino food is more on the sour side.”
However, he did note that there are many other things in the Philippines that he loves as a tourist such as the beaches.
His remarks unsurprisingly drew outrage from Filipinos. Even food historian Ige Ramos found Romano’s comment “insensitive, offensive, and humiliating to the people you left behind.”
The team handling the Facebook page dedicated to the late Doreen Gamboa-Fernandez, who was a food anthropologist and the dean of Philippine food writing, wrote “Let us help Chef Jonathan out of his bind. Perhaps he lacks sufficient material to deepen his understanding of Philippine culture, history, and the diversity of our cuisines.”
The Philippine Embassy in Norway has released a statement regarding the issue too. “Whoever says Philippine cuisine is 'dårlig mat' (bad food) should definitely visit the Philippines to discover and rediscover the richness, freshness, and regional variety of Filipino food.”
“Filipino food across the country’s 7,641 islands have different flavors and colors and influenced by the Philippines’ natural resources, culture, and history. Filipino food also reflects the sharing attitude and generosity of Filipinos. You can never leave a Filipino home without being invited to share a meal.”
Romano has since issued somewhat of a public apology for his offensive remark.
“I apologize for the words that came out on my TV appearance lately. Everything came out of context and I am so sorry,” he said. “I am an educated chef with long experience and was just giving my subjective opinion. Of course, I like Filipino food and would not badmouth without backing it up.”
“I am born in the Philippines in Manila and pay my visit there over 30 times and of course, I love my country. However, I will admit that my mother can’t cook,“ he said.