My First Cooking Contest, And Chef Laudico is the Judge!

When Samsung Philippines invited NomNom Club to participate in the Samsung Cook-Off last week, I immediately said yes.


Women In Digital

With wifey “Woman in Digital” of

Although I’m more of a diner than a cook, I am no stranger in the kitchen and is able to whip up easy-to-cook meals one way or the other. Ok, ok, my best creations are breakfast pancakes. 🙂 But recently, I am in the pattern of cooking-up easy-to-prepare recipes using San Marino Tuna Flakes. You’d observe that since November of last year if you’re an avid reader of NomNom Club.

Hence, I submitted one of my recent San Marino Tuna Flakes recipe – the Tuna Sisig Recipe. It’s a simple dish but I surmised that for a beginner like me, it would be a safe choice. I intend to make it up in taste and cleanliness of preparation.

The Samsung Cook-Off Challenge maintained a number of surprises for us, the participants. All we know is that we are going to cook our preferred recipe in one hour and we have a budget of Php 1,000 for a dish that can feed about 15 people which includes the judges and Samsung executives.

This is officially the first solo cooking contest I am participating in. The last one was a cooking-duo challenge in Enderun which was hosted by Megaworld. I was paired with my wife so it was not a surprise that we won. 🙂

Gala Star Culinary School

NomNom Club‘s Station Number 5 @ Gala Star Culinary School

Samsung Cook-Off Challenge

The morning of February 5, 2015 came and woke up early to troop to faraway Gala Star Culinary School in Pasig; we live in northern Quezon City bordering Caloocan.

The Friday morning traffic slowed us down a bit but we made it just in time. Gala Star was a big and well-equipped cooking school. It had all the kitchenware we needed including the Samsung Smart Oven which we had the option to use.

There were 7 other blogger contestants in the kitchen, including my wife who is independently representing her blog ‘Woman in Digital‘.

When the contest proper started, they announced the criteria, mechanics, and the celebrity judges in the persona of no less than Chef Laudico, Chef Jackie Laudico, and Chef Ernest of Gala Star Culinary School.

Tuna Sisig Recipe

Ingredients for my Tuna Sisig! Recipe can be found at

Oh my!” That was all I can think about! “The Laudicos will be tasting my tuna sisig!” As much as I am excited for the opportunity, I am equally dreaded as well! I mean, these are like ‘chef institutions‘ in the Philippines and they will surely notice all the shortcomings of my dish.

To make matters more nerve-wracking, they were going around observing and interviewing us about our preparations while we cook! In short, they will witness how novice and how much of a ‘trying-hard’ cook I am! 🙂

So I just convinced myself to be composed and that there is nothing much I can do about it. I might as well just do my best, learn from any corrections or reprimanding I am about to get. 🙂

First Encounters

Their first roundabouts consisted of asking us what is our dish and why we chose it. Imagine the tension when they were nearing my workstation.

Chef Laudico’s first inquiry was what part of the tuna am I going to use. Well, I just told him that the novice me was aiming for an easy-to-prepare dish so I used ready-to-eat canned tuna (easy to open too , at that). 🙂

He was polite enough not to embarrass me in the realisation. On the other hand, my wife, as she told me, laughed her heart-out at her workstation as the conversation is heard over the microphone. 🙂 I am not really embarrassed though, because I was conscious of my decision from the start.

Chef Laudico poked-fun on the situation instead, by asking if I was a fan of Anne Curtis and Derek Ramsey (in relation to the tuna) and since I seemingly have the same body-built as that of Derek (true story). I just nodded and smiled although I wanted to say “It’s more of Daniel Matunaga, actually.” (get it? haha!).

Tuna Sisig

NomNom Club’s Tuna Sisig

I just thought it was a really funny encounter and somehow found myself lacking to be under the tutelage of these great chefs. Oh by the way, I also burned my first set of sauteed ginger and onions while while Chef Laudico was watching; enough said. 🙂

Tuna Sisig

I did a lot of chopping. I was initially not in a hurry because I wanted to actually cook late so that my dish would still be hot (for tasting purposes) when the 1-hour time is over and judging commences.

In summary, I was only able to cook 1/3 of what I prepared. I was hoping to cook two more rounds of the same dish to have enough for the 15 tasters. Anyhow, it was good that I was able to prepare at least one of the three sets, which was enough for judging.

Jonel Uy

The humble Tuna Sisig by Jonel Uy

All the contestants were asked to leave the big kitchen room while the judges grade our dishes. I then realised that I was not even able to taste what I prepared! 🙂 I did so when we were called back after about 30 minutes. My dish was almost wiped-out which I thought was possibly a good sign that the judges liked-it (or I just cooked too little).

The grand winner who took home a gigantic and awesome Samsung Refrigerator and P20,000 in cash was announced together with 3 runner-ups who took home a Samsung Smart Oven each.

Samsung Cook-Off Winners

The winners of the Samsung Cook-Off: Karina Ramos, JM Bueno, Ed Uy, and Lariza Garcia

We didn’t place among the top 4 winners but it’s ok. Actually, wifey wanted to the Samsung refrigerator so badly; she is a gobemouche for kitchen appliances. But that is the reality of contests, there are winners, and there are non-winners. 🙂

Chef Laudico

Chef Ernest (Gala Star Culinary), me, wifey, Chef Lau, and Chef Jackie Laudico [L-R]

The Samsung Cook-Off is surely one for the books. It was a great first experience in solo cooking for me. Having Chef Laudico, Chef Jackie, and Chef Ernest taste my humble tuna sisig recipe dish is already a great honor.

Check out more updates from NomNom Club by subscribing to our blog through email and liking the NomNomClub Facebook Page. Follow our Twitter and Instagram accounts as well. Thanks to Samsung Philippines for the opportunity!

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