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!



admin - October 7, 2011 - 11:51 am

Thank you! Please subscribe by entering your email address to get updates of new posts. I did start with an RSS feed but many people were not all that sure about how to use it. So reverted back to email subscription instead.

Roger Wilkes - October 7, 2011 - 3:31 am

I love your blog, you should add instructions for the RSS feed feature so I can get automatic notifications of new blogs. If you can help me set it up please email me! Ii will bookmark you for now. Again Excellent Blog!

admin - September 19, 2011 - 10:00 am

Thank you! We did have an RSS feed feature but many just wanted email notifications – hence the subscribe by email function. Try that and let me know how you find it.

Susan Beneke - September 17, 2011 - 11:31 am

I love your blog, you should add an RSS feed feature so I can get automatic notifications of new blogs. If you set one up please email me! i will bookmark you for now. Again Excellent Blog!

BuBaRO0NaZz - May 26, 2011 - 12:09 am

The family and I are ever so proud of what an amazing cook you have become. I always enjoy our lil’ visits, to see you in the “zone” cooking your heart out brings a smile to my face and a rumble in the stomach. The only downfall is leaving your kitchen one size bigger haha. Keep up the great work, your food is BLOODY AWESOME! Can’t wait to read more, like i said i never stop drooling when it comes to your cooking. much love bra! Bubz

Brad Nelmes - May 22, 2011 - 9:30 pm

Hey Craig,
Well done. Its great to see your creations, and you enjoying something you really love to do.

Best wishes
Brad Nelmes

admin - May 21, 2011 - 7:08 pm

Thank you everybody for your kind words and support.

This website is an exciting vehicle for my journey and although I knew what I wanted to achieve, it has surprised me in many ways. Affirmation for my cooking has always been in seeing my food enjoyed and receiving compliments. To have my food captured is such beautiful images has stirred my creativity to a whole new level!

There will be a great variety of food coming as well as some ventures into uncharted culinary territory. I look forward to sharing these with you.

Ingrid Moore - May 21, 2011 - 5:13 pm

Congratulations of this wonderful website. It is really beautifully done. It’s great to see you living your passion…it’s so uncommon. Also as another friend added, would love some vegetarian recipes too 🙂

Jenny Maevsky - May 20, 2011 - 7:54 pm

Wow Craig
This is fantastic. We never watch Masterchef until I briefly happened to switch channels and saw you. We were disappointed at your early departure but are amazed by what you are doing here mate.
We have been samplers of your culinary cooking skills at your mother-in-laws home and can’t wait to try some more one day.
Bring on the vegetarian dishes though mate – not just meat – please.

Joanna Hawkins - May 20, 2011 - 7:36 am

Hey Love…

You are truly amazing and the best thing is…your passion is your driver…I love it !
I’ll be sure to share this with foodie friends…and I know that this is just the beginning of great and gastronomical things for you…

Thanks to Miss Ellie for sending this on x

TANYA KNEZEVIC - May 19, 2011 - 10:29 pm

Dear Craig,

From humble beginnings to being one of the top 50 on Masterchef!
Well done, extremely proud to know you as a friend and even more impressed with your culinary skills.

May this journey be one of good taste and well deserved recognition for those who dare to dream.

Happy eating!

Sharon - May 19, 2011 - 4:16 pm


I realy like the story your courage and your ambition you took to get all this done. while so many peoples talking about cooking you just made it!
hopfefully i will try making all your recipe as good as you make them.

by the way friend of mine is a Shef in Aria restaurant he’s knowing Matt very well… anything you need? i can speak to him…
if not to late !

all the best

Marie Lyons - May 17, 2011 - 9:11 am

Craig, what a wonderful story and blog – it looks amazing, no wonder you have thanked the people who have contributed. I look forward to following Caesars Palate and trying some of the recipes – well done.

Dean ValDeremao - May 16, 2011 - 6:31 pm

Hi Craig,
Well done mate, web site looks good and I certainly remember the late night cooking in the res. Seems a long time ago now. I will certainly keep in touch. valdo

Lana Webb - May 16, 2011 - 10:38 am

Hello Chef!

Congratulations on Masterchef we watched you on TV and were very proud. Even more proud you are continuing with your passion. I too have developed a love of cooking recently and enjoy having people round for a meal and good times. I like it especially when complimented on a new dish or idea I try for the first time. Look foward to seeing your dishes and recipes and trying them out myself. Keep it up,I remeber the first gormet BBQ at your place when I was younger and I am still talking about it =)

Liz Swinnerton - May 16, 2011 - 8:22 am

Dear Craig
Congratulations on CaesarsPalate can’t wait to read more.
All the very best!
Liz Swinnerton