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Bourdain believed Filipino food would be a global hit


Anthony Bourdain's passing was keenly felt by Filipinos who admired him for the way he handled Filipino food and culture  - with openness and respect.

During a 2017 interview with GMA News' Jessica Soho, Bourdain predicted that Filipino food would make it big in the international scene.

The renowned chef and storyteller was in Manila then to feature Philippine food, culture, and people for an episode of his award-winning series "Parts Unknown".

That particular episode showed him eating fried chicken at a fast-food joint, treating a child to a glass of halo-halo, and joining a some random locals for drinks and sisig.

Bad press

But while Bourdain enjoyed the many Filipino dishes, none of it was popular around the globe.

In June 2017, when Bourdain came to Pasay City for the World Street Food Congress, Bourdain said Philippine food suffered from "bad press," with balut being one of the culprits.

"At the time when people didn't know what Thai food was, didn't really understand anything about the diversity of Chinese food, hadn't even experienced sushi... their only impression of what Filipino was balut. That was it," he explained.

"Unfortunately, that was the iconic international impression of what Filipino food was, which is ridiculous. By the way, my 10-year old daughter loves balut," he added.

He said that introducing local food to the international community was a "process that happens over time."

As an example, he pointed to America's Korean immigrants, most of whom refused to change their flavors regardless of where there were.

"'I don't care if Americans are eating at my restaurant, damn it, this is the way we make it, this is the way it's gonna be'... Now you have these Korean restaurants in Los Angeles where all these non-Koreans are showing up all of a sudden and the owners, 'What's going on? Why they hated us last week? Why are all these hipsters coming to my restaurant? They used to make fun at me at school and now they all wanna eat in my restaurant?'," Bourdain explained.

"I think the same thing will happen with the Filipinos, with the Philippines eventually," he predicted, given that New Yorkers, and Americans in general, were increasingly becoming open and interested in Filipino cuisine.

He came back to his daughter, who he said had developed a taste for more than just balut.

"My daughter has grown up eating Filipino food from very, very young and probably eats Filipino 2x a week. She has a much more keen understanding of those flavors and nuisances than I do. And that's how she feels. I think it's on me to catch up," he admitted.

Bourdain died by suicide at the age of 61 on June 8. — Jessica Bartolome/DVM, GMA News

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