This week, I again had the privilege to meet one of the top 40 finalists, Matthew Astorga of Pitt Meadows, British Columbia. 25 year-old Matthew is one of the 5 competitors from B.C., once again this is a #proudFilipinomoment for Filipinos in Canada.
Here are 10 things that will reveal who Matthew Astorga is:
1.On his roots and his family – Both of Matthew’s parents were born and raised in Manila (Philippines), his mother’s family is from Iloilo while his dad’s family is from Bulacan. Matthew who was born in Makati City is the middle child of 3 siblings, their family moved to Canada when he was 5. Though he was born in the Philippines, Matthew admits that he is quite bad in speaking Tagalog, he can understand Tagalog more that he can speak the language and if he does, he would speak in Taglish (combination of Tagalog and English).
2.Who is Matthew? People close to Matthew will immediately say that he is an overtly expressive person, but Matthew considers himself to be an ambivert, depending on the situation, he can sometimes be an introvert and sometimes become an extrovert. Though he greatly enjoys being surrounded by his friends and loves to go out with them, he still treasures his time alone and also enjoys being by himself. He would attribute this to the nature of his job in the past 7 years. Matthew started his own graphic design business when he was 18, since then he has always been working by himself and have gotten used to it. When he is not working or if he is not in his kitchen, cooking he is most probably hiking, this is one of the things that he loves about BC, he truly enjoys the amazing trails and mountains of the province.
3.On his profession – Matthew is a Digital Design Consultant. He consults with small and medium business about setting up their product/company branding and marketing, he designs his clients’ company logos, business cards and websites. He also constructs the client’s online marketing plan, run their online media accounts, create their blog posts and original images.
4.On his cooking inspiration – Like any other son who learned how to cook, Matthew’s inspiration is his mother. According to Matthew, when they were growing up, their parents has shown them that love and happiness can be expressed through food and that there is no better way of showing it by preparing delectable food and sharing it. In addition to this, British celebrity chef and owner of Michelin Star restaurants, Heston Blumenthal has a large impact to Matthew’s passion for cooking. He admires Heston for being a self taught chef, he dreams of becoming like him and would like to follow his steps in food innovation, Matthew is passionate about creating beautiful and innovative dishes by combining food and design!
5.His cooking history – Matthew did not have any formal education in cooking but he has always loved to cook since he was a kid. He is confident in his cooking abilities. He grew up fascinated with cooking, omelet was the very first dish that he cooked. Though his mom and Heston Blumenthal has always have a great influence in his cooking, Matthew considers everything that he knows as fruit of his experimentation in cooking. He tried and experimented on different recipes, for him cooking is his way of unleashing his creativity. Recreating and creating a dish is his way of translating his passion for cooking and his creativeness. He cooks everyday, he lives close to a farmers market and he would come there every day getting inspiration for the next dish that he is going to create.
6.His specialty – Matthew cannot consider one particular dish as his best recipe, because of his creativity, he always comes out with something new or something better. He narrated that he used to work as a fishmonger and because of this, he always got to take home a fillet of different kinds of fish every week and create something from it. He considers his strength to be cooking seafood. Aside from his love for seafood, he also loves recreating crème brûlée, he has prepared different kinds of crème brûlée, both sweet and savoury!
7.His favorite Filipino dish – Matthew also loves Filipino food. He can cook any Filipino food especially adobo, caldereta, menudo, beef tapa, turon, lumpia and he can even make his own version of Ube ice cream, but his all-time Filipino dish is sinigang, most especially shrimp sinigang.
8.On the person that he cooks for – Matthew cooks for his partner and for himself everyday. He can come out with something special from whatever he picked up from the farmers market, being in BC allowed him to often create something from salmon.
9.Best cooking advise – When asked what’s the best lesson he learned about cooking and what advise he can give to those who have passion for cooking, here’s what he has to say: “I’ve learned 2 big lessons in cooking, first, is to always taste as you cook! My Lola (grandmother) and tita (aunt) have taught me this, they always taste what they cook in each stage of cooking. Each ingredient that you add to a dish completely changes the taste, so tasting what you are cooking is important! Second, is to have fun while cooking and to not take things so seriously. I think a lot of people don’t cook because they are too nervous or they think that they have to follow a recipe exactly the way it is. Cooking, first and foremost should be fun! Recipes are only guidelines and are not set in stone!
10.On joining MasterChef Canada – Of course, one of the questions that I will not missed asking Matthew is his reason for joining MasterChef Canada, and here’s his response, “MasterChef Canada is the hardest thing you can do in the culinary industry and going through hard things produce great results and growth. Building a brand in the culinary industry has always been a dream of mine, but I haven’t had the time. MasterChef Canada is the ultimate test and winning this season would definitely give me that validation to quit my business and start building my food empire!
On February 14, tune in to MasterChef Canada, at 7 p.m. ET/PT on CTV. Watch Matthew and the other top 40 finalists prepare their signature dishes for the judges and find out who make it to the top 14. Last year, British Columbian, David Jorge won the MasterChef Canada title, let’s all find out who will get the coveted white apron this time.