What happens when you add two new and unusual ingredients to a time-tested recipe? You come up with an amazing cooking show.
The Del Monte test kitchen seems to have found the right combination in Chef Rob Pengson and broadcaster Love Añover-Lianko, who host this generation's Del Monte Kitchenomics on GMA News TV.
As the darling traffic reporter of the Kapuso network's morning show, Unang Hirit, no alarm clock is quite as effective as Love, who makes it her business to roam the jammed streets of the metro.
Meanwhile, Chef Rob has been charming the ladies since he first appeared on QTV 11's Chef to Go, way back in 2007. He later proved his culinary prowess on 2nd Avenue's You Got Served.
The unlikely kitchen partners have been on a gastronomic adventure since Del Monte Kitchenomics was re-launched four months ago. The program airs four days a week— Thursdays to Sundays at 9:55 a.m. on GMA News TV.
Love narrates her first meeting with Chef Rob.
"Bago kami nag-taping, we had a meeting muna ng staff, crew, pati kami ni Chef Rob. Natatakot ako! Inglisero si Chef, e! Hemorrhage 'to, 'te! Mga chika dito 'te!" she recalls.
Chef Rob, on the other hand, was surprised and amazed when he first met the energetic Love.
"Lahat naman kami nagulat diyan at first... and then I got used to it," he says. "It was very surprising in the beginning but eventually, parang naglalaro ka na lang. With that frame of mind, you just have fun," he narrates.
Chef Rob enjoys working with Love.
"She's very energetic, very friendly, and easy to get along with. So from the very beginning, she made me feel comfortable... she's very easy to talk to."
Love thinks Chef Rob is pretty cool.
"Ride lang siya nang ride! Tapos nagtatawanan kaming lahat, kasi nagjo-joke ako, hindi naman niya nage-gets! [Parang] okay may punchline na, brother!
"Pero ang cool niya, kasi ang masaya kay Chef, parang... Kasi dapat talaga magta-Tagalog kami kasi this is meant for mga nanay, hindi lang pang nasa A, B level kundi B, C, D. Yun yung target namin talaga. So kailangan niya mag-Tagalog. So nahihirapan siya, so niloloko ko siya!" she says.
Culinary expert meets kitchen comedienne. For example:
"May mga ano siya, halimbawa minsan, sabi niya, 'shallot.' Shallot? Sibuyas lang yan!" Love says laughing.
"Kasi siya, Inglisero, ako naman, Tagalog. Waray pa nga! Tapos medyo seryoso siya nang konti. Ako naman, kengkoy, so sobrang swak!
The two complement each other.
"... Tawa kami nang tawa! Walang katapusang tawa, walang katapusang kainan!" Love adds.
A sense of humor is certainly an important ingredient when you're taping six episodes in a single day, in a hot kitchen surrounded by sharp knives.
KITCHEN ANECDOTES. Chef Rob and Love featured a favorite Pinoy dessert in one of their first episodes—the timeless ice candy!
"Cream, evap, fruit cocktail, buco pandan..." says Chef Rob.
"Pagtikim mo para na siyang ice cream!" says Love. "Di ba nakaka-amaze na parang yung ice candy mong dati mong nung bata ka pa lang ine-enjoy... This time, may twist. Yun nga, yung fruit cocktail! Naku, naku! Lalagyan ng gatas, ng something, para na siyang ice cream na salad. Ay, Ganung factor!"
Love says she has a learned a lot from the show. She is no longer afraid to experiment in her kitchen and has concocted a dish she calls "Laing ni Love."
"Para siyang ginataang Baguio beans. Sabi ko, kung puwede sa Baguio beans, puwede 'to sa laing!"
Love, who is in fact Bisaya and not Bicolana, says her specialty is laing. She adds longganisa to the gabi leaves and sili.
"E di ba yung longganisa malasa na siya? So nung trinay ko siya sa laing, ang sarap! Ang linamnam!"
Love says her Bicolano husband simply loves her laing.
"Mula nung ginawa ko yun... lalo niya kong minahal! Ganun, e!" she quips.
LITTLE MS. SUNSHINE. Love says her inspiration in life is her month-old baby girl, Jove Aloj.
"Feeling ko nga, walang karapatang mapagod. Ganun yung attitude ko now. Hindi ako puwede mapagod, o magkasakit."
Love does five TV shows. "Gumigising ako ng 4:00 a.m. for Unang Hirit, tapos nagshu-shoot ako Tuesday, Thursday for Hanepbuhay with Chris Tiu.
"Tapos, I also have Go Negoso, Kaya Mo! and then Walang Pasaway Kay Mareng Winnie — meron akong segment dun. Then there's Kitchenomics. Bait ni Lord, no? Kasi alam niyang magpapagawa ako ng bahay!"
FIRST-TIME DAD. Chef Rob, who owns The Goose Station, a restaurant at The Fort, is married to Sunshine Puey-Pengson, who is also a chef. They have a seven-week-old baby boy.
Being a first-time dad can be heaven and hell at the same time.
"Heaven because, obviously, it's nice to be with him, but at the same time pag ginigising ka ng three nang umaga [or] every two hours para kumain..." he says.
Love reveals that Chef Rob is a sweet father. Once, he arrived at the Kitchenomic's shoot looking like he had not slept at all.
"May toka pala sila ng misis niya. 'O ikaw ganitong oras, ikaw ganito.' E, nagkataong madaling araw [ang toka niya].
"E, kami hanggang gabi magshu-shoot. Patay si Chef Rob! Yung diwa niya naglalaro sa kawalan e!"
Chef Rob, like Love, juggles parenting and career. Lest we forget, he also runs a culinary school, the Global Culinary and Hospitality Academy.
What's his typical day like?
"I have lunch with my wife at home and then I go to the school [which has four branches] in the afternoon, especially when there are important matters I have to attend to. I go to the restaurant for dinner," he says.
Who is the better cook, Chef Rob or his wife?
"Well since ako yung laging nagluluto sa bahay, ako na. Pero siya [his wife] mas masarap siya sa dessert... she's a pastry chef," he says.
Any advice to budding chefs?
"I think if you want to become a good cook, you have to understand what good food is. To understand good food, you have to develop a palate for it. It doesn't have to be expensive but you have to let your palate be sensitive to what tastes good. If it's not developed, how can you recreate...
"So it's important that you know how to eat well. Most good chefs know how to eat well."
Speaking of eating well, how does Chef Rob keep fit despite his fondness for Japanese and Filipino cuisine and ice cream?
"But I'm not fit. I gained so much weight when my wife was pregnant because I ate every time she ate. If she wants Krispy Kreme, I'll eat Krispy Kreme! If she wants a peanut butter sandwich, I'll have a peanut butter sandwich."
To lose weight, Chef Rob plays football at Cuenca Park in Ayala Alabang Village.
"Our team is called the Azkals of Alabang because my teammates are half-Filipino, half-German, and half-Honduran," he says.
LIFE RECIPES. If life were a recipe, what would it be?
Love's answer? "Kare-kare! Nandun yung matamis, maalat, ma-krema, saucy, at maanghang. Actually, yung kare-kare, 'andun lahat ng lasa e! So dapat talaga, ano bang tawag dun? May variety of taste kang matitikman! Dapat ganun ang buhay mo!"
Chef Rob, on the other hand, modifies the question: "If life were a cuisine—not just a recipe—it would be Indian or Thai. You have all these combinations—you have sweet, salty, spicy, everything. It's fresh, fried, and fatty.
"Then life would a roller-coaster ride."