Filipino Chefs Are the Rising Stars of the Culinary World

Momar G. Visaya


The third time’s a charm for Filipino-American chef Tom Cunanan of Washington, D.C.’s Bad Saint, who finally won as Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic at the James Beard Awards held May 6 at the Lyric Opera in Chicago. He was also previously nominated in 2017 and 2018.


The awards, presented to recognize culinary professionals in the United States, are sometimes called the “Oscars” of the food world.


“Never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d be up here,” Cunanan said during his acceptance speech, according to the Washingtonian.



Cunanan co-owns the restaurant with Genevieve Villamora and Nick Pimentel and collectively, they came up with the menu that has captivated both diners and food critics alike. Bad Saint is named after St. Malo, Louisiana, where the first Filipinos settled in the United States.


He was one of four Filipino Americans in the running for James Beard Foundation’s 2019 Restaurant and Chef Awards, along with République’s Margarita Manzke, who made a return appearance in the Outstanding Pastry Chef category; Top Chef alum Sheldon Simeon’s new restaurant in Hawai’i called Lineage, which was up for Best New Restaurant;  and Maharlika & Jeepney owner Nicole Ponseca, who was nominated for I Am Filipino, the book she wrote with chef Miguel Trinidad.


In an Instagram post, the official account of Bad Saint congratulated its beloved Cunanan and said, “His creativity, vision, and superlative food are the beating heart of this restaurant.”



Bad Saint announced last March that it will be open for dinner seven days a week in April. This announcement came after the news that it is now accepting limited reservations, which means that diners do not have to wait outside for hours, although there will be seats available for walk-in customers.


Cunanan was also named Star Chefs D.C.-Chesapeake Rising Star in 2018 and named Bad Saint as one of America’s 38 essential restaurants.


This is an excerpt from an article originally published in the Asian Journal. Read the rest here.


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