Her finished dishes have the sophistication and luscious looks of creations by a seasoned chef. But if you look closer, behind all these culinary masterpieces is a 17-year-old, self-taught Filipina chef. Mabulo first stepped into the culinary limelight at age 12. She was a finalist in ABS-CBN’s “Junior Master Chef Cooking Competition” and reality TV show.
Her culinary memories go back to when she was five years old baking in her toy oven. Those where the years she lived in the UK with her parents, Fermin and Michelle Mabulo, who encouraged Louise, their only child, to cook with them.
“I spent a lot of time training under different mentors who helped me refine my culinary skills,” says Louise. She praises her grandmother, Sol de Guzman, who owned a restaurant; her other grandma, Angelica Mabulo, who made her own cocoa tablets (tablea); and her uncle, Jeffrey M. de Guzman, a chef-artist.
After living in the UK, Louise returned with her parents to her home roots, Camarines Sur, a province in Bicol, a region known for spicy dishes cooked in coconut milk.
“Hands down Filipino cuisine will always be my favorite. There is something about the flavors we grew up with that becomes a meaningful part of us.”
Louise is a hometown heroine. Two of her recipes are on the menu of a famous restaurant chain in Bicol. Currently she is an ambassador of Gourmet Society and where she gets updates on food trends. She relies on FoodTalkPH, a large Viber network, which she can tap at the touch of her fingers. And today, she is the youngest brand endorser of Breville appliances.
Louise is the youngest in the Philippines to earn “an NCII Cookery by TESDA.” She explains: “An NCII by TESDA is a Level 2 National Certificate issued by the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority in the Philippines.”
She now gives classes at her The Culinary Lounge, a cooking studio located in her town. Her students are housewives, young chefs and seasoned cooks. One class shared photos of the Lechon Cebu and Seafood Paella that Louise taught her students.
The South Wales Evening Post in the UK has called Louise Mabulo “Asia’s Next TV Cooking Star.”
“Don’t keep your skills and abilities to yourself. Use it to make a positive impact on the world around you,” she advises aspiring chefs. Louise’s future plans include going to formal culinary school soon.
Prodigies like Louise Mabulo remind us of new beginnings and fresh hope. It’s a chance to marvel at young talent and feel an excitement that energizes us. The best thing is that Louise will have a chance to better the world for a long time. Think of the incredible innovations that she can make happen with all the right ingredients for success on her plate.
Elizabeth Ann Quirino, based in New Jersey, is a journalist, food writer and member of the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP). She blogs about Filipino home cooking and culinary travels to the Philippines on her site AsianInAmericamag.com.
More articles from Elizabeth Ann Quirino