It took a while before what was happening dawned on him. By the time Filipino chef Anton Amoncio realized that he had been declared this year’s winner of Food Hero Asia, the crowd had erupted into applause.
“I wasn’t expecting it,” he said during his post-victory interview.
In fact, he had joined the competition at the last minute, and only upon being prodded by friends. “I thought I would have only one chance in a million.”
Amoncio bested two other finalists from Malaysia, Farris Danial Abdul Rahman and Koh Kay Kim, and Pattaya Benjavari from Thailand. All four finalists were chosen after five weeks of grueling challenges and elimination conducted by a panel of production and creative experts who evaluated the entries based on the participants’ personalities, on-screen appeal and creativity. The announcement of the winner was made on Thursday night during the finale held in Singapore.
For the final challenge, Amoncio prepared Cheesy Lamb Kaldereta using premium New Zealand lamb from Pure South. The dish was a recreation of a best seller in the menu of his restaurant Antojos. He tweaked the dish by using Mornay sauce, lots of spices, cinnamon bark and other aromatics.
As winner, Amoncio will join Scripps Network Interactive’s roster of talents on the Asian Food Channel and Food Network. He is the first male and the first Filipino to win the competition. Past winners of Food Hero, like Sarah Benjamin, Debbie Wong, Michelle Lean and Ili Sulaiman, now host their own shows on the Asian Food Channel and Food Network.
Asked what his plans are now that he has been declared the winner, Amoncio said he trusts what management has in store for him.
“Hopefully I’ll be able to share my food story and let other people see through my eyes what food is all about in the Philippines, and maybe in other countries.” He also hopes to learn from the past winners.
Amoncio names his grandmother as his own Food Hero. For his audition video, he cooked chicken tinola the way his grandmother would cook it for him when he was growing up. He studied culinary arts at the Center for Culinary Arts in Katipunan, Quezon City and has guested in several cooking shows in Manila.