Caesars Palate is a collection of cultural experiences, inspirations, and influences on my culinary journey – Craig.
I was born in Philippines residing between Bacolod City and Pavia, Iloilo. These cities are in the smaller islands in the middle of the country – the Visayas Region – sugar cane country.
When I was nine, my family immigrated to Melbourne, Australia.
But it wasn’t until I decided to leave home at 18 to study in Sydney that I started to realise the intrigue and fascination I had for food. I was missing home cooking and eating hospital cafeteria food all the time was just not satisfying. (I was a student nurse then!)
I bought a little electric frying pan, followed by an electric pot. This at least allowed me to cook food for myself. I then bought a Women’s Weekly cookbook and started following recipes. But this was still not home cooking. I started to get recipes from mum and slowly got into cooking.
Turns out I was OK at cooking. By the time I was finishing my nursing studies, my room in the nurses residence had a stove and oven, an assortment of electric cooking appliances, utensils, a pantry, and a bench top built to accommodate the old sink in the corner of my room.
I experimented with different cuisines, generally trying to replicate something I had recently eaten and enjoyed, or something I had seen that intrigued me. It did not take long after I moved out of the nurses quarters before I had a reputation for having good food at dinner parties and barbies at my place.
When we started our own business, I also discovered that cooking became a creative outlet for me! When work was becoming time consuming and grinding, I would find myself cooking – even in the middle of the night.
Until recently, I had not stopped to question my love for food and cooking. I had never paused to think about what strongly influenced my cooking. Nor had I thought about what direction I want my cooking to go to. The one and only thing I am very definite about is that my daughter would learn to cook from a young age and be open-minded when it came to trying food in all its forms.
So what made me stop to ask these questions you may ask? Answer: Masterchef!
Friends and family encouraged me to audition for Series 3 of Masterchef! So I did. I completed the extensive forms, attended the audition, got invited to cook in front of the judges and, after a couple of days – I was told that I was in the Top 50!
Now let me tell you – Top 50 is quite amazing. If you are foodie, imagine this. You are taken away from your normal everyday life, put into a group of people you do not know, with one common interest, one passion – FOOD! It is foodie heaven! And there are some very talented and knowledgeable cooks in that group!
Unfortunately, my journey ended rather prematurely! Y’know, one of those moments where the brain went into neutral!
Although saddened and deeply disappointed with my early exit from the competition, I knew this was not a reflection of my cooking ability. But what do I cook? What is my style of cooking? What do I want to do with my cooking?
Caesars Palate is a culinary journey – my journey of learning about food and cuisines, a journey of my cooking ability as I ‘grow’ with skill and knowledge.
Most of all, this is a journey of sharing! I hope you enjoy what you see, and enjoy cooking some of the dishes!