Filipino-Norwegian chef Jonathan Romano.


MasterChef Norway judge calls Filipino food ‘very bad’


DUBAI – A Filipino-Norwegian chef who is also a judge in MasterChef Norway described Filipino food “very bad” on national TV, drawing the ire of netizens.

In TV show 4-Stjerners Middag, Jonathan Romano criticized Filipino food for allegedly lacking in art and taste composition. Watch it here:

“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,” Romano told his co-presenters in Norwegian.

“They do not have the same taste composition as Thai food. Filipino food is more on the sour side,” he added.

Many netizens slammed Romano for his “insensitive” and “ignorant” remarks.

Food historian Ige Ramos said it was “insensitive, offensive, and humiliating to the people you left behind.”

Marilu Rodriguez Neumann Scheich, a supporter of Filipino cuisine at Europe road shows, described Romano as “ignorant”.

“I challenge you, Mr. Romano on your ignorant claims about Filipino food. You are just not well educated about food. Ignorant,” Scheich said in a social media comment.

“Every country has its own unique approach to cooking, and as a chef, I think you should know that, as each chef is different as well. With your statement, you clearly disrespected all the years of food discovery here in the Philippines,” said Mark Daniel Tan.

Miguel Alfredo Ignacio called Romano’s comments “haughty, pretentious and ignorant”.

“Maybe, in his house, they’ve been eating badly cooked sinigang and sweet and sour fish all the time? Generalizing Filipino food as on the sour side, all the time? Maybe he needs to show his Michelin stars to be more credible at all,” Ignacio said.

“He didn’t get the chance to eat good, authentic Filipino food. Poor him!” said Harly Sabater.

The issue has prompted the Philippine Embassy in Norway to release a statement: “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,” it wrote in a post.

“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,” according to the embassy.

Romano has issued a public apology for his comments, but drew more ire after blaming his mother for not knowing how to cook.

“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.

Netizens have called for Romano to be declared persona non grata and banned from traveling to the Philippines. ICA/Expat Media

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