This cook’s vlogs will make you prouder of Pinoy food 2
“Dinumog ang sisig,” Chuck said in his video. Screengrab from Chuck Tiongson's video
Food & Drink

How this OFW cook in Kansas turned his non-Pinoy workmates into fans of Filipino food

Chuck Tiongson’s pride for the food of his motherland is undoubtedly contagious—no wonder millions are watching his vlogs
RHIA GRANA | Feb 09 2023

We’ve seen one too many cooking tutorials and reaction videos of non-Pinoys trying out Filipino food—and honestly we’re as “umay” with them as much as we are about people making a fuss of the latest Taste Atlas survey. But when we came across these TikTok videos of a Filipino cook treating his multi-racial workmates to his own cooking—from his take on sisig to pansit to bistek—we thought, hey, these we like.

Welcome to Chuckie’s Kitchen. It’s a vlog run by Dexter Chuck Reyes Tiongson, 28, a friendly, lanky Valenzuela-born fellow now doing the grind in a big Italian restaurant in Kansas City, Missouri. His videos are a combination cooking tutorial and, yes, reaction shots but there’s also something endearing about this Pinoy cook in a foreign land sharing a bit of his culture to his workmates, showcasing the full experience of enjoying food the Filipino way—cooking it with lots of love, a bit of improv here and there, and enjoying the results with one’s closest and dearest. 

Chuck's Kitchen
Chuck's colleagues taste his pork sisig. Screengrab from his video

It’s not only us here at ANCX who have been charmed by these kitchen feasts. Chuck’s Pancit Canton Guisado video has been viewed 12.4 million times as of last count. His Spicy Beef Caldereta vlog has clocked in 3.3 million views. The Siomai with Toyomansi and Garlic Oil vid drew 2 million views and his Classic Buko Pandan is now at 2.2 million views. The numbers are impressive considering the Facebook page, now 1.1M-strong, is not even a year old.

It’s not hard to warm up to the guy’s videos. The cooking part is entertaining and quite informative but his love for and pride in Filipino food—they’re contagious. 

His inventiveness is amusing, if not admirable. Have you heard of Lumpiang Kare-Kare? What Chuck does is chop the usual kare-kare vegetables (string beans, eggplant, pechay), sautés them with minced beef, and wraps this mixture in lumpia wrapper before deep-frying. Then he prepares a peanut or kare-kare sauce where you dunk the your crispy spring roll. 

Chuck's Kitchen
Chuck slicing eggplant for his Lumpiang Kare-Kare. Screengrab from his video

Not fond of the humble maruya? Chuck’s version of this Pinoy merienda might change your mind. His batter is made of flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, eggs, whole milk, melted butter, and a bit of oil. He dips the thinly sliced saging na saba in the mixture, then fries the coated banana in oil until it’s golden brown. The twist? The fritters are decked out  on a rectangular vessel and drizzled with good ol’ homey kondensada

We were totally convinced his maruya is the bomb after watching his non-Filipino workmates give it a taste. The Italian joint Chuck works for in Kansas is a 300-seater affair, and during the staff’s lunch break—which is around 3PM—that’s when he brings out the goods, which he’s prepared lovingly at home. Chuck says he usually cooks for the resto staff once or twice a week, and uses only his own dime to buy ingredients.

“Talagang gusto ko lang magpatikim ng Filipino food sa kanila,” he tells ANCX. “Siyempre bilang Pinoy, proud tayo sa pagkain natin. Tinitingnan ko ang expression ng mukha nila kung nagustuhan ba nila. One time, nakatuwaan ko lang na i-video sila. At doon nagsimula itong vlog.”  

It’s a treat to hear his workmates’ remarks while enjoying Chuck’s special maruya, which they say looks like chicken tenders. “I’ll take this over funnel cake any day of the week,” said a satisfied fellow. “[This is] insane,” said another. A curly-haired lady who’s a regular presence in the vlogs was speechless for a moment when she took a bite of the breaded banana. When she came to, she said, “This is so good.” She came back for seconds, and thirds. Then she said, “I’ll get a small one. That way I don’t feel bad if I get five.”

Chuck’s sisig—served with white rice, of course—was also a crowd pleaser. “Dinumog ang sisig,” Chuck said in his video, lifting two empty metal plates previously filled with the spicy pork dish.

In another video, Chuck introduced one of his favorite comfort foods to his work friends—sweet-and-salty beef pares served with garlic rice. “Oh my god, this sh*t’s fire. It’s really good,” said a colleague. “Bro, this is outrageous,” quipped another. 

At some point, it all feels like watching a sitcom happening in a real kitchen. It’s a treat to watch Chuck’s workmates learn the names of dishes they’re about to try, or discover decidedly Pinoy ingredients they’re only hearing about for the first time—like banana ketchup (“What? A ketchup that also tastes like banana?”) and calamansi (“Is it calamari?”). And of course it’s music to our ears when they say how they thoroughly enjoyed the dish prepared by our kababayan.

Chuck's Kitchen
“Masarap naman talaga ang pagkain ng Pilipino,” says the accidental Pinoy food ambassador, “tapos ile-level up pa natin.”

Chuck has been based in Kansas, Missouri for eight years now. He was only 20 when he and his father arrived in the US in 2015. A Dentistry student for a couple of years in the Philippines, when the opportunity to move to the US presented itself, he grabbed it without second thoughts.

“Pumunta kami dito ng father ko, ang budget namin 300 US dollars lang,” Chuck recalls. The professional cook first worked as a FedEx porter but had to quit after two months. “Hindi ako tumagal doon kasi mabigat ang trabaho. Hindi sanay ang katawan ko kasi napakapayat ko dati.”

Father and son later met a Filipina who works at an Italian restaurant. The lady referred them to her employer, and the mag-ama were immediately hired. “Doon na nagsimula ang restaurant career ko,” Chuck offers. Initially, he was part of the wait staff but when the Covid pandemic hit and indoor dining in restaurants was shut down, Chuck knew the only way to keep his job was to learn to cook Italian and American dishes.  

But Chuck is no stranger to kitchen work. In fact, he started to tinker in the kitchen as early as eight years old. His parents’ penchant for cooking rubbed off on him as he was growing up. “I would get a few tips and tricks from them,” he tell us over Zoom.

It was February 2022 when he thought of making his coworkers try Filipino food. “Na-curious lang ako kung ano ang magiging reaction nila pag nagpa-try ako ng pagkaing Pinoy,” he says. The first dish was turon, which was an instant hit.

So he made them try his siomai next. He wanted to share his non-Filipino coworkers’ reactions online, so this time he placed a camera where they can be seen spooning out the day’s special. “Ang nakakatuwa, nangungulit din sila sa camera,” he says of his colleagues, “karamihan hindi camera shy.”

In the beginning, his videos would only get about 4,000 views but he was surprised when he started uploading on TikTok and his lumpiang shanghai video earned 5.9M views after only a few days.

Chuckie says he has more Pinoy dishes he wants his coworkers to try, and he’s positive they’re going to like all of them as well. “Masarap naman talaga ang pagkain ng Pilipino,” says the accidental Pinoy food ambassador, “tapos ile-level up pa natin.” What’s not to love?