Judy Ann Santos can do both dramatic and comedic acting, and has proven herself equally adept as a television host.
She recently has been wearing the chef’s apron and is now a cookbook author.
The multifaceted actress also known as Juday revealed at the launching of her first cookbook, Judy Ann's Kitchen, that her passion for cooking didn't start out the conventional way.
She said she had been insecure about not finishing college, a fact she shared with her husband Ryan Agoncillo before they were married.
She was "sobrang malungkot" about what happened.
"I wanted to study something, I don't know what. We were talking about going to school.
“Sabi ko I want to have a degree or a certificate kasi hindi naman ako nakapagtapos ng college, that is my insecurity.
“Feeling ko hindi ako makapag-communicate with other people kasi at the back of my mind, I wasn't able to finish my studies.
“I wanted to do something na related sa akin, sa pag-aartista ko at that time.”
Juday told Ryan that prosthetics could be her calling, “Kasi marami na beauty/make-up artists,” she explained.
At that point, Ryan reminded Juday about her love of cooking.
“Sabi niya sa akin, 'Why not take up culinary because that's what you really love doing?’”
It brought her back to the time when she was a child actress.
“I used to ride sa mga services ng catering namin going to the set.
“Tumutulong ako sa kanila, nagluluto ako for the whole crew, doon pala nagsimula passion ko for cooking.
"When you're younger, 'di mo naman na-realize na gusto mo magluto, akala mo naglalaro ka lang.”
KITCHEN COMFORT. Judy Ann further recalled that as she grew older, the kitchen became her refuge.
She continued, “Tumanda na ako, naging teenager na ako, I would always go back to cooking when I feel burned out in work.
“Sa tsismis at that time, burned out sa pagtawag ng tao ng siopao sa akin… I would always go back to cooking.
“Na-realize ko na ever since mula bata pa ako, yung comfort na nabibigay sa akin ng pagluluto, iba.”
She learned early on that cruising the bars would not ease her troubles, “Ginawa ko 'yan pero 'di ako nagiging masaya.
“Mas masaya ako 'pag nagluluto ako.”
CULINARY STUDIES. After that conversation with Ryan, Juday related the two of them started researching the culinary schools in the country.
"Kasi nga I needed, wanted, to have a certificate so bad because I wanted that validation,” she said.
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She added she was also thinking ahead for a fallback in her showbiz career.
“In the Philippines, when you get older, the respect of the people, hindi kagaya sa Hollywood.
“You have to find a way how to make a living and how to get respect from other peers and from the people you work with.
“Sabi ko, I have to learn something, I wanted culinary because I really love cooking.
“The kitchen is my playground and sabi ko, feeling ko, I make people happy with the food that I make.
“It's my passion, it's where I get my energy, it's where I am happy, so why not take it further?
“Doon nagsimula nung pumasok na ako sa CACS [Center for Asian Culinary Studies].”
She stopped working for six months and went to school every single day.
“I finished most of my courses in six months.
“Doon ko na-realize na puwedeng hindi ako magtrabaho forever basta nasa loob ako ng kusina."
Although she isn't done with school yet, Juday said she is bent on finishing all her culinary courses, “I really wanna graduate already!”
INSPIRATION. She is in her first trimester of pregnancy, and still busy as ever.
As she put it, “It's not a reason for me to not do something.
“You still have to be creative, at the same time achieve something even when you're pregnant.
“Pregnancy is a blessing and you can always be a blessing to others.
“I want to be an inspiration as well to other pregnant mothers d'yan na feeling nila 'pag buntis sila 'di na sila puwedeng gumalaw...”
Unless, of course, the doctor prescribes complete bedrest as not all pregnancy cases are the same, Judy Ann acknowledged.