Memoirs of a chef and his kitchen

Some kids run away to the circus. Chef Lau's fascination for all things culinary drove him to run away and join a kitchen.No, seriously.

Staring young and finding his path
At the tender age of seven, little Rolando Laudico was spending time in the kitchen, exploring the first few inklings of his calling via his family's trusty La Germania cooking range. Despite his early start, though, he decided to pursue another course of study in college Initially taking up tourism then had intended to make one final move to Hotel and Restaurant Management, but before he could do he met his future wife, Jackie, and he delayed shifting again.

But the call of the kitchen was too strong and the future chef found himself dropping out of school to work in fine dining establishments such as La Primavera in Greenbelt and Carpaccio along Yakal in Makati. While Lau cut his teeth washing dishes at the first restaurant, by the time he worked in Carpaccio, he was the establishment's first "pizzaiolo"-or simply put, the pizza cook.

Eventually, though, Chef Lau's parents caught on."My parents found out that I quit college and they asked me if I was serious about cooking," he recalls. "I said that yes, I was, and they decided to send me to culinary school. back then, we didn't have {culinary schools in the Philippines}, so I went to the US to study at the Culinary Institute of America." Upon emerging as a full-fledged chef, he went on to work in kitchens in France and Australia. Eventually, though, chef Lau set his sights on the Philippines.

Legends in the making
Upon returning to the country, Chef Lau set up a catering business that would be the cornerstone of his culinary empire. One of his first purchases? A La Germania oven range, in a fitting homage to the stove that gave him his first taste of culinary passion.

"It was the very first La Germania that I bought using my own money," Laudico says. "And it's still working today, almost 18 years after I first got it." That range has been through a lot--it's stood by the company day and night, moving from site to site, getting rained on and even occasionally dropped, but still going strong and helping Chef Lau and his crew of dedicated cooks delicious, perfectly made dishes.

Given the longevity and durability of that range, it's no wonder that he chose another la Germania for his family home, this time a massive Bertazzoni model in Ferrari red. Not only does he want to spend more time creating on a stove he knows will perform to his exacting standards, but he also wants his family to have access to a unit that will encourage them to create masterpieces in their own kitchen.

It's little wonder that his children also have a love of cooking.his ten-year-old kea has been baking since she was seven, just like her dad, and these days, commandeers the kitchen every so often to whip up her specialties. "Aside from my wife teaching her, she learns recipes on Youtube," claims her proud dad. "More often than not, she does desserts, I think idol niya and mama niya."

Cooking also serves as family bonding time for the Laudico's "We cook pretty much everything and when we cook together, my kids usually help out with the 'dirty jobs' like peeling garlic or vegetables." Easy enough to do when half your family home is dedicated to a kitchen. "It's a family thing cooking." Lau says, "we do it every day, not just during special occasions."

Nothing quite like it 
Things could have gone very differently for Chef Lau and the people who have been touched by his cooking had he returned his back on the culinary arts to pursue tourism, but it now seems inevitable that he would have gone this road.

At the end of the day, the time he spends in the kitchen isn't the hard labor it appears to be, but the practice of what he loves doing best, and that gives him the most satisfaction."I love cooking because I'm an artist as well," says Laudico. "I find that I can express my creativity through food."

"No other profession allows you to receive immediate feedback fro your hard work. When you feed somebody and you make that person happy, for me, there is no other feeling like it. I love making everybody feel satisfied through my food creations!"

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