Chef Tatung Sarthou, better known as Chef Myke Tatung on the Umagang Kay Ganda show, admitted he's been having anxiety attacks since the shutdown of ABS-CBN and with the pandemic adding to his stress.
How is he coping now?
He told PEP.ph (Philippine Entertainment Portal) at the virtual media conference for his book Simpol held on November 26, 2020, "Well, ako, I prayed and meditated.
"Number two, walk lang. Bawal ang social climbing kasi walang sosyalan. Walking, then get busy with work.
"Iyon lang ang way mo to deal with the situation. Actually, it's having a positive attitude.
"Kahit may anxiety ka, it's going to be okay. Pag negative, wala, kakainin ka ng buhay.
"'Di pa nga 'tapos ang pandemic natin. Dapat laban lang."
Chef Myke said he's been keeping his spirits up even when the Covid 19 crisis has affected his restaurant, Talisay The Garden Cafe on Maginhawa St. in Teacher's Village in Quezon City.
"Iyong restaurant, at the start, closed talaga siya. I think ilang months siyang closed, three months.
"As in closed na super closed, wala talaga. Now, it's recovering."
CHEF MYKE ON HIS BOOK SIMPOL
On the positive side, Chef Myke said being quarantined has given him the time to finish his book, Simpol 101 Dishes.
"At least ngayon, I have something to look forward to. May ginawa ako nung pandemic, tinapos ko iyong libro.
"Kung di ko ginawa, ngayon nganga din ako. It's really taking action when you have the time.
"Nag-pandemic siya pero di ako nawalan ng gagawin kasi pinili ko na gumawa ng something."
He also created an online show Simpol.
He said, "I think it's just a reflection of who I am. Pag sinasabi mo na kailangan mo ng inspiration, kailangan mo ng internal motivation.
"Ako kasi, kung di ako ganito, ito pa rin ang gagawin ko. Cooking and writing [are] in my nature.
"Kahit siguro di ako published author, kung di ako sikat na chef, magluluto pa rin ako.
"Di ba nagluluto ako for work, mai-stress ako sa trabaho, ano ang gagawin ko?
"Magluluto pa rin ako. Iba ang lulutuin kong putahe pero iyon pa rin ang gagawin ko.
"It's like breathing. Parang, who motivates you to breathe? Nobody, pero that's what you are, you have to breathe.
"Siguro ito ang nature ko, that's why it's called your calling, it's called your passion.
"To do it regardless if you are paid for it or you are not paid for it.
"Does it mean na pag walang budget, babawasan mo ang galaw mo? Hindi, e.
"If it's who you are, you will work the same way, regardless kung ano yung circumstances around."
WORLD-WIDE ACCLAIM FOR CHEF MYKE'S BOOKs
Chef Myke wrote Philippine Cookery: From Heart to Platter that won a World Gourmand Award in 2017.
He pointed out, "Iyong World Gourmand Award, it's like an Olympics of cookbooks. It's an international competition that goes around the world.
"Iba-iba iyong countries na nagho-hold. Well, nag-qualify ako, I won in the Philippines, and when it entered in the international competition, nanalo siya.
"Di ko nga siya ine-expect, posible kaya na manalo siya? It's my first book, well, nanalo siya, amazing! For a first author sa ganung level ba."
His second book Simpol is now nominated for the 2021 World Gourmand Award to be held in Paris, France.
Chef Myke remarked, "Ngayon nga, this book nga, bagong-bago pa siya, naabot namin ang deadline, we are qualified for the international round for next year.
"Excellence guides me din, di lang makagawa ka. Importante sa team namin, kaya kamo nag-swak kasi gusto namin world-class, e.
"Iyon talaga ang aspiration namin: world-class. Kahit simpol, basta world-class."
CHEF MIKE makes SIMPLE DISHES
Not one to do complicated fusion cuisine, Chef Myke Tatung has made a name serving simple Filipino dishes.
The world-renowned chef explained to PEP.ph, "Ganun din ang upbringing ko na medyo pasimple lang.
"I talked about it in the book kasi when I started in Umagang Kay Ganda, sinasabi nila, 'Chef, simplehan mo lang. Iyong alam ng tao.'"
The reminder sparked in Chef Mike a deeper appreciation for simple dishes.
He said, "At the time, I was doing a lot of fancy cooking. Parang nafi-feel ko, 'Oo nga naman. Ano ang ginagawa ko?'
"Nagluluto ka ng mga bagay na hindi lahat ng tao ay nakakaintindi.
"Nag-resonate lang sa akin iyong makikikain ako sa mga karaniwang tao. I love cooking for these kinds of people.
"Parang ganun iyong iniisip ko. Kasi iyong guidelines namin talaga sa Umagang Kay Ganda, abot-kaya ba ng ordinaryong pamilya? Kaya ba sa lutuan nila?
"Kaya halos lahat ng luto namin, kawali lang ang luto, frying pan or kaserola. Walang oven-oven, walang ganun-ganun.
"I really felt I became effective doing these kinds of recipes."
CHEF MYKE'S SECRET INGREDIENTS
Chefs are known to use secret ingredients to make their signature dishes special.
Not Chef Myke who declared, "Ako, at this point, wala na akong masyadong ganyang drama na sikreto-sikreto.
"Kasi if other people are selling food, what I am imparting to people is knowledge, eh.
"Kung iyon naman ang naging produkto mo is knowledge, bakit mo itatago? Kasi di mo naman siya magiging kumpetensiya.
"I also feel na pag may tinuro ka sa tao, may shinare ka sa tao, ang balik sa iyo mas marami pa because they become very generous.
"They become generous with information, they become generous with tips as well.
"Even iyong restaurant, sinasabi nila, 'Do you share your recipes to your staff?' Of course I share my recipes with my staff."
For Chef Myke, cooking is a reflection of one's values.
He clarified, "Ibibigay ko sa iyo ang recipe. Ang question, pagpunta mo ng palengke, pipiliin mo ba ang pinakamagandang sibuyas, pinakamagandang kamatis, o dadampot ka lang kung ano ang mayroon ka?
"Pangalawa, pagdating mo sa bahay, huhugasan mo ba iyong binili mo o di mo huhugasan? I-store mo ba nang maayos o di mo i-store?
"Before pa umabot sa final product, marami ng variables na magiging iba-iba na depending on person's value.
"If I give you a recipe, di ako sure kung iyong recipe that I've given to you, iyong tinuro ko sa iyo step by step, di ako sigurado na magagawa mo. It really depends on the person.
"Sa akin, di ka dapat matakot mag-share. Di ka dapat matakot mag-reveal ng secrets kasi ultimately di ka naman may-ari ng secrets na iyon.
"Kasi it's all based on science, it's all based on chemistry, it's based on physics and all that.
"Kung di mo ishe-share ngayon, they will discover it on their own, magmumukha ka pang madamot."
CHEF MYKE's on coping with RISING COSTS OF fresh INGREDIENTS
The conventional wisdom is to make dishes using the best and freshest ingredients.
But given the current crisis, this is not always possible. And cooks, like Chef Myke, are making do.
He said, recalling his stint on Umagang Kay Ganda, "Sa atin, ang ginagawa natin, ginagawan natin ng solusyon.
"We do our show live every Saturday. Ano ang pinapaluto sa akin? De lata. 'Chef, dapat magluto ka ng walang karne.'"
Rather than be annoyed, he saw it as an opportunity to find solutions, even if it meant humbling himself as a chef.
He told PEP.ph, "If there's anyone who is more equipped to find a way to cook better food within that budget, chef ang makaka-solve.
"E, ayaw mong ibigay ang experise mo kasi nahihiya ka, ayaw mong bumaba ang level mo.
"Sa akin, you have to respond to what the society needs. Provide the solution for people.
"Kasi ikaw ang may kaalaman, ikaw ang may kakayahan, ikaw ang may skill to be able to find those creative solutions na mas marami ang makakakain."
With the rising prices of fresh ingredients in the market, what can Chef Myke suggest for cheaper alternatives?
He answered with a question, "Ganito lang, iyong straightforward question: gumagamit ka ba ng mga instant or di ka gumagamit ng instant?"
He brought it up knowing that chefs are wont to insist on fresh ingredients when cooking.
But Chef Myke offered a more practical solution, "Alam mo, sa akin, ganito ang paninindigan ko.
"Whatever is instant now and available in the market serves a social function. So you cannot judge kung gumamit man ang tao o hindi.
"Sabihin na natin ngayon na sobrang mahal ng bilihin. Magsisibuyas ka pa ba? Magbabawang ka pa ba? Hindi na, di ba? Idadagdag mo na lang sa ulam mo.
"Gagawa ka ng adobong kangkong. Magkano na ang kangkong mo? Trenta na nga, kangkong pa lang. Dadagdagan mo pa ng sibuyas na kinse o bente.
"Ang ibibili mo ng sibuyas at bawang, idagdag mo na lang sa kangkong para marami ang makakain.
"Ano ang gagawin mo? Use instant, may ready na adobo sauce, gamitin mo na siya.
"No judgment. At this point in time, sa situation natin ngayon, ang importante na isipin natin, ilang tao ang makakakain nang maayos.
"Ako, wala akong apology na gumagamit ako ng mga produkto na ayaw ng ibang tao. Gagamitin ko iyon kung makakabuti sa tao."
CHEF MYKE ON COOKIING FOR THE LATE GINA LOPEZ
Chef Myke became emotional remembering the late Gina Lopez, one of the few who believed in him when he was starting his career.
Gina would then get him to cook for her guests. Eventually, he would cater as well all the special occasions of the Lopez family.
He intimated, "Masakit siya. It's not sobra namin close on a personal basis, but I really respect her passion.
"I really respect what she was doing for the country and for the environment.
"To lose someone like her, especially for me na kadikit iyong aming pananaw, iyong aming advocacies, parang, 'Oh we lost a warrior.'
"Di siya dramatiko na, I miss her like a Tita or a relative. Walang ganun kasi di naman kami ganun ka-close in a personal level, e.
"But, for me, the way I see her, the way I respect her work, what she's been doing in the past especially before her death, iba ang ginagawa niya. She's a champion."
At the end of the interview, Chef Myke had these inspiring words to help his fans weather these uncertain times:
"It's really, believe in human spirit na gagawa at gagawa ng paraan.
"I think we should believe that it's our nature to fight back pag medyo dumadaan tayo.
"Siguro dumadaan lang tayo ng weak moment, pero eventually matatauhan ka rin, tatayo ka rin.
"Trust that things will be okay or things will be better, if you're moving forward.
"If things are not working for you the way they are, you just have to change what you are doing. You just have to be creative."