Chef Rod in the latest episode of his YouTube show where he decides which serves the best barbecue among Amber's, Ineng's, JT's Manukan, and Andok's. Image from Chef Rob Reviews
Food & Drink Features

Meet Chef Rod, ‘national food critic’: 'My approach is simple. If I can afford it, I will review it'

Some of you might know the man, the myth, the legend from his Twitter days. But can you really know an enigma? We did our best. Here, he talks to ANCX about sriracha, his favorite dish, and why he once withdrew from the reviews.
Jam Pascual | Dec 06 2019

Some may be familiar with the blinding genius of Chef Rod (first name Chef, last name Rod) through his food reviews on the YouTube channel Re:Create, but I remember his early days on Twitter in 2015. Who could forget his greatest hits, like his review of Hansel Mocha Sandwich cookies (“ITO ANG SAGOT SA LAHAT NG KATANUNGAN SA MUNDO. 16 PACKS NG HANSEL PUTA. KAPAYAPAAN.”)? Or his hot take on Swiss Miss (“ETO ANG LEGIT NA 3-in-1. LASANG MILO GATAS OVALTINE. DI GAYA SA IBANG 3in1 LASANG KAHOY AMP.). 

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All elegance, and no nonsense, he’s basically Masarap Ba? but with way more chaotic energy. It was reviews like these that gave him a kind of cult following not so much among snooty foodies, but among folks who know good shit when they taste it. Chef Rod has since moved his unique blend of everyman savvy and stoner-esque epiphanies to YouTube, where he reviews everything from popular childhood baon staples to motel foods. He’s even done a couple of collab videos with Erwan Heussaff. Is it weird that I’m proud of him?

Judging 90s childhood baon food where one of the criteria is "nostalgic factor."
Chef Rod is kind of the antithesis to the average food critic and culinary influencer. He doesn’t care for any of that Michelin-starred BS, nor does he appear beholden to a food sponsor. He’s just… a dude who eats, and for some reason his content, as kalat as it can be, is leagues better than most mainstream food shows.

I got to speak to the man, the myth, the legend—to talk about what he’s been up to and his takes on different food trends—in an attempt to decipher his enigmatic essence.  

 

ANCX: Chef Rod, when did your interest in food first begin?

Chef Rod: I was born to be a lawyer, but den my parents told me I should be a culinary genius instead. So now I obey my parents and now I review food for da betterment of da country.

How did your food reviews begin?

Chef Rod: I realized everyone is biased when it comes to reviewing food that dey wanna review. I come into the platform as someone who should tell da people what to eat and what not to eat. I started on Twitter five years ago. It’s going to be my sixth anniversary alive as a chef two months from now.

I was actually around when you first started publishing food reviews on Twitter. And you were reviewing… not restaurants but just, like, snacks you were eatin. What is your approach to food criticism?

Chef Rod: My approach is simple. If I can afford it, I will review it. If you’ve noticed, I don’t review food from restaurants because I’m just a hambol boy, and I cannot afford any of the big time foods.

What I’ve noticed about your Twitter account is that… you end up liking most of the foods you try anyway.

Chef Rod: I think the paradox here in this werld is that food is meant to be enjoyed whether they taste good or not. So when I review something, I just say ‘Okay this is wonderful,’ and the people deserve to know.

Watch more in iWantv or TFC.tv

What’s your favorite kind of food?

Chef Rod: Currently I only like one kind of food. It’s called Sisig Hooray.

What’s a food you hated most over the course of your career as a food reviewer?

Chef Rod: The only kind of food I don’t like in this werld is alcohol because I was born allergic to alcohol. This is fact, by da way. You make me drink two bottles of San Mig Pale and I will fall asleep.

How did it come about, doing reviews for Re:Create, moving your platform from Twitter to YouTube?

Chef Rod: Re:Create is a YouTube channel featuring the different kinds of people in Manila. And I was the first one they brought in who has legitimate expertise in reviewing culinary sensations. In the four years of my career as a culinary genius, it’s high time people deserve to know what I look like, and that I should move away from textual descriptions of food.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

tfw you look nowhere near the dude on your festival I.D.

A post shared by Chef Rod (@rodfoodjoint) on

The other side of the reviewer: According to his Instagram account, Chef Rod in real life is an aspiring filmmaker.
 

From what I understand, Chef Rod, there was a time between Twitter and YouTube where you were kind of taking a break. You were out of the radar for a while. What’s up with that?

Chef Rod: At one point in my Twitter career, people started bashing me for being inconsistent and very unabashed with the way I make my reviews. My initial fans, they would PM me and they would say, “You’re not doing your job properly. If you’re an actual chef, you should be consistent with your work.” And I felt that, it’s too much for me to take, that’s why I had to move away for a while and focus on other things.

Oh, you did some soul-searching.

Chef Rod: ...Dere was no soul-searching. I still eat everyday. I just don’t tell da people.

Judging milkteas with food influencer Erwan Heussaff.

You recently did two collaborative videos with Erwan Heussaff. One was for reviewing milk teas and the other was for reviewing cheese burgers. How did that go, meeting Erwan Heussaff? His kind of food reviews is very different from the kind of thing that you do. 

Chef Rod: Erwan Heussaff is a very handsome man. And I was glad we did that collaboration because… it’s only right that two superpowers in the culinary world should meet, and let the people know what it’s like to have a milk tea craze happening in the city right now.

One thing you were doing that other food reviewers weren’t doing was you were reviewing “low brow” snacks, so to speak. Foods that people from any tax bracket could buy. What’s the value of reviewing those kinds of foods?

Chef Rod: What I don’t like about the other food experts is that they review food that people generally don’t eat. So I like to review food that people would wanna eat, and that they could easily purchase when they go outside. You notice, most people who write reviews in like spot.ph, they only review food that always seems pricey. It’s difficult to hit up the restaurants. They usually review restaurants in the Ortigas, Makati, Taguig area. So what I wanna bring to da plate is to let the city know that there are good spots everywhere. 

Are there elitist restaurants?

Chef Rod: For me, any restaurant is an elitist restaurant if you can’t afford it. For me. [laughs] For me lang.

Chef Rod, what we’re gonna do is, I’m gonna hit you with a lightning round of questions. I’m gonna give you different food trends we’ve had before and now, and you just tell me how you feel about them.

Chef Rod: I imagine the Boy Abunda thing. Tapos ako parang… I dunno.

Putting boba on everything.

Chef Rod: I don’t even know what boba is. Is dat da pearls? Pearls on everything seems… pwede ‘man siyang ulam. If I can’t afford regular ulam why not. It has the sweet and salty.

Truffle oil.

Chef Rod: Iyan, pare. Kahit anong pagkain ‘yan. Lalagyan ko yan ng truffle. It’s my form of margarine.

Matcha.

Chef Rod: Pare di ako mahilig sa matcha. I don’t get the taste. Para siyang buhangin. I dunno.

Japanese mayo.

Chef Rod: It’s overrated kasi ang daya ng Japanese mayo. Is the question ‘should I put Japanese mayo on everything?’ I can put regular mayo naman. Lady’s Choice.

Sriracha.

Chef Rod: I always order wings na Sriracha-flavored. I have a qualm with Sriracha though kasi, every time I order Sriracha-anything, they always taste different. So what even is sriracha?