It was only a matter of time that cooking and singing, two favorite Filipino past-times, would end up as the perfect combination in a mainstream contest. For a single mom who found herself unemployed due to the pandemic, it became the opportunity to continue doing the two things that she loved most.
Muntinlupa-based Kundiman Singer Francis Anne Virtudazo was one of many local artists who were out of work when live events were put on hold earlier last year. It was after coming across a friend’s online post about Phoenix SUPER LPG’s Kalderoke, a competition that combined singing and cooking, that Virtudazo could only describe her situation as one is “blessed”.
It was during the grand finals that Virtudazo made known her passion as a kundiman singer when she performed a powerful rendition of Rey Valera’s Tayong Dalawa while cooking her version of Creamy Adobo Mushroom Pasta. For the singer, the song was the ultimate reflection of the classical love songs she would often perform on the stage or in international competitions.
“The competition gave me an opportunity to do something meaningful with my daughter and it allowed me to fulfill my responsibility of showcasing a classical style of Filipino music and singing for all Filipinos to appreciate and learn,” Virtudazo said.
Highlighting classical singing and introducing a new style of cooking also became an opportunity for Nazer Salcedo, an opera singer hailing from the City of Iloilo. As the last two grand finalists vying for the crown, the two friends agreed to do what they do best – putting on a good show.
A main difference between the two contestants was Salcedo’s cooking style of preparing purely vegetarian dishes inspired by his own vegan diet and stories of growing up in the province. One of his beloved performances, singing Angeline Quinto’s Lipad ng Pangarap while cooking a vegetarian pancit dish, was inspired by childhood trips to the market with his grandfather. His final dish, a plate of deconstructed Kare-Kare paired with a classical opera rendition of Muling Buksan ang Puso, earned him praise from resident chef judge, Chef Lau.
Despite not winning the crown, Salcedo hoped that he has inspired more vegan chefs and cooks to also try and join these kinds of contests