Proves that his cooking skills and funny antics are the best way to his diners’ hearts & tummies
Ask anyone to describe Filipinos and the word “hospitable” might come up a few times.
It’s something that has been embedded in the culture. Whenever there will be guests coming over, rest assured that a meal fit for ten is what greets you upon entering their home.
Charlie Bueno, a 45-year-old Filipino chef based in London, took Pinoy hospitality to the next level. The difference? He showed Filipino hospitality and upbeat personality not in the comforts of his home but in his workplace.
With how much the internet and social media has become a big part of everybody’s lives, one uplifting story will surely stand out. This chef did just that.
Charlie Bueno’s name first made rounds on the internet when a video of him cooking was first uploaded on You Tube back in July 2014. Four years later and watching the video will still surely make anyone smile.
However, this wasn’t just a normal day at a restaurant, doing his job. What caught people’s attention was his acrobatic cooking skills and his funny and quirky way of serving his customers, something that reflects Filipino culture when it comes to serving guests.
Charlie hailed from the province of Zambales. He got his first taste of the culinary industry when he first started as a steward or dishwasher in Shangri La, a prestigious hotel in the Philippines. He came from humble beginnings and slowly worked his way up the culinary industry.
As fate would have it, his hard work and passion for cooking led him to bring his skills to Dubai. Eventually, he found his way to London where he continued to establish a career in cooking. This was where he became a Teppanyaki chef for Benihana in Piccadilly, the Japanese restaurant where his viral video was taken.
In life, past experiences lead us to unexpected destinies. This was especially true for Charlie Bueno. When asked about his roots as a cook, he said that his status back when he was younger was what pushed him to learn. More than two decades of culinary expertise all links back to his life when he was in the Philippines.
“Nung bata pa ako, magaling akong magluto (When I was younger, I was a great cook),” he noted. “Dahil sa kahirapan, kinailangan kong matutong magluto (Because of poverty, I was pushed to learn how to cook.)”
Being a chef wasn’t really something that Charlie dreamed of ever since he was a child. He graduated with a degree in Mechanical Engineering, a course one wouldn’t really expect him to get into and end up creating the most exquisite dishes. Nonetheless, he ended up flourishing in the culinary industry and eventually found employment in Benihana in 2011.
The viral video
“Blessing in disguise sakin ang pagluluto (Cooking is a blessing in disguise for me),” he said.
True enough, his passion and enthusiasm for cooking shined through the video. In fact, it truly was a blessing as he wouldn’t be cooking in London now if it weren’t for his love for this art. Cooking even catapulted him to becoming something of an internet sensation as his clip spread like wildfire online.
The clip lasted for more than seven minutes, showing Bueno’s antics as he cooks for his clients. As he flipped and chopped, he wowed his customers with his cooking skills and joyful personality.
Charlie Bueno also noted that in his line of work as a Teppanyaki chef, showmanship is vital. He usually tries to get a feel of his customers first before proceeding on how to entertain them.
When asked about his reaction when he found out that the video went viral, he admitted that at first, he was concerned about what it meant to him being a chef in Benihana. He also felt shy upon watching the video and he said that he wasn’t really the type who would delve too much on social media. In fact, it was his son who was the one who even made him a Facebook page.
In the end, the video was met with delight by viewers. Titled “Funny Filipino Chef”, it was first uploaded in 2014 and the original uploaded clip garnered more than 120,000 views by the time Philippine media giant ABS-CBN reported the story. It shows his upbeat demeanour during the cooking session, something that would surely put a smile on anyone’s face upon watching the clip.
“May kaya naman pala ako (I guess I do have potential),” he recalled thinking back when he watched it again.