Up Close and Personal

Many apologies!  I haven't given up on posting, it has just been a busy two weeks in meetings and planning for my upcoming television show.  Stay posted for the next few days and you'll be counted among the first who may have a chance to appear on the show!  Follow and you won't miss it.

This post is written specifically for all of you who have taken the time to read my blog and share this unexpected culinary journey with me. Thank you for your encouragement and support! It is exciting to be moving forward with an imminent instructional baking television show. I truly feel blessed to have the opportunity and such great family and friends to support me along the way. So many of you have reached out to me and have asked specific questions about “my story.” Well, I think it’s about time I answer all of your questions, eh?

Where are you from?

Niagara Falls, Canada

What is your ethnicity?

Half-Filipino, Quarter-Dutch, Eighth-Chinese, Sixteenth-German, Sixteenth-Irish (and yes, that equals 100%). Even though I was born a Canadian, I am currently a citizen of The United States of America (two years this month, actually). Oh, even though I have no ethnic connections to France or Haiti—I also speak French and Haitian Creole.

How old are you?

Ha! I ALWAYS get asked this question and the majority of people say fifteen—I’m not even joking! Despite the youthful appearance, I am turning a quarter of a century mid-May.

Are you single?

Ha! Yes, I am. :( A lot of people have a hard time believing this, but I have never been in a serious relationship. Surprised? Well, it’ll happen someday!

Other than baking, what other things do you love?

There are SO MANY things I love! Where to start?

Hobbies: I’ve played the piano ever since I was six-years-old. I don’t play professionally or compete anymore but I do love to sit and play for hours just to escape life—it’s a stress reliever. My favorite composers to play are Rachmaninoff, Liszt, Debussy, and Chopin. I really enjoy writing music and singing! I love home projects—interior design, painting, tiling, and decorating. I’m super artsy—I like to oil paint, take photographs, and do graphic design. Sports? My warm weather sport is tennis and winter, skiing.

Interests: I am and will forever be a student of learning—I love to study. I also love to have so much fun spending good quality time with family and friend trying new restaurants, going to concerts, broadways, and the movies, going out dancing, or even just sitting around talking. I really love listening to music. I grew up listening to classical music, The Cranberries, and Bjork; but my tastes for good music are not bound by any type of genre. Rule of thumb, if it’s good music then it’s good music. My favorite playlist right now includes artists such as: MIKA, Edward Maya, Alex Lloyd, Coldplay, A Fine Frenzy, Imogen Heap, Marina and the Diamonds, and many, many more.

Guilty Pleasures: I’m a sucker for back massages, Martinelli’s sparkling cider, and good style.

Travel: I absolutely LOVE to travel and have serious withdrawals when I don’t. Places I’ve been outside of North America include: Israel, Egypt, Jordan, France, Switzerland, Ireland, England, Austria, China (Hong Kong), Japan, and Haiti. I love learning about different cultures and, of course, trying different kinds of foods!

If you could change one thing about you, what would it be?

Other than my relationship status—not a thing! Ha! That said, however, I’m constantly trying to improve myself day-to-day.

What was the last thing you ate today?

Well, before I left my apartment this morning I made a delicious Panini with my homemade focaccia (an incredible blend of rosemary, garlic, basil, and olive oil) and aged cheddar (it was the only cheese I had left in the fridge). Anyway, it was simple, fast, and easy; and with a few sips of my Canada Dry, it was perfect. Oh, I also had some chocolate cake iced with a dark chocolate ganache.

How do you stay so skinny?

Okay, this question isn’t a fair question to ask! I have a hard time putting on weight. I do, however, try to eat very healthful foods and control my portion sizes when it comes to desserts. Luckily, I mostly bake for other people—ahem.

What is your favorite dessert?

I’ll never turn down an authentic French macaroon (I’m rather picky when it comes to these delectable treats and know that the best ones can only be found in France—prove me wrong!).

I also LOVE chocolate! So anything chocolate always brings a smile to my face.

What is your favorite thing to bake?

My favorite thing to do is bake so anything I make I thoroughly enjoy; but I guess I can answer this by saying I most frequently make bread. It’s practical.

Did you always know you wanted to pursue a culinary career? What’s your story?

This is a difficult question to answer simply because I really didn’t know that I wanted to pursue a culinary career until just recently—hence the “unexpected culinarian.” I’ll attempt to answer this pair of questions by starting from the very beginning (a very good place to start) and using excerpts from my Los Angeles Times blog article. I can rarely think back to my childhood without remembering the countless hours spent in the kitchen with my family. With a mother from the Philippines and father from the Netherlands, I think we were probably pretty spoiled with a variety of different kinds of meals growing up. My mom assigned one day a week for each of her six children to make dinner with her in the kitchen. I was Wednesday.

My favorite part was making dessert.

I can remember one time—oh, I must have been six- or seven-years-old—when my mom wouldn’t let me bake a cake because I was too young to use the oven on my own. I snuck a jar of store-bought icing out of the cupboard and iced a glass bowl that I flipped over. I tried to hide it, but I can’t keep any secrets from my mom.

I think it was shortly after we moved to the States when my dad purchased our first video camera. I used to set it up in the kitchen and record myself baking cakes and just about anything—teaching my pretend audience.

I guess you can say I really did love baking at a very young age, but no matter what I did, my parents taught me to always work hard and do my personal best and that pursuit for perfection crept into all areas of my life. After graduating valedictorian of my high school class I continued my education, but with interests and skills in many different fields, I found myself changing my major every semester. In the end, I decided on business management were I studied marketing and global management.

While studying abroad, I was on a bus leaving Geneva en route to Paris when a friend asked me, “Jonathan, what are you truly passionate about?” That question never left me. During my last year in college I set out on a quest to discover what I am truly passionate about. It didn’t take long for me to realize that the answer to that question was and has always been baking.

I had a hard time giving up the seemingly successful opportunities that awaited following graduation, but I knew I would be happier following my passion. I also knew it was essential for me to pursue a culinary education—I really wanted to be taught the correct methods and techniques. After a short interview over the phone with a representative at Le Cordon Bleu in Los Angeles, I was invited to visit the campus. I booked my flight and flew to L.A. the day after I took my last semester final. I remember driving by the Le Cordon Bleu campus at two o’clock in the morning shortly after arriving at LAX. I knew that was where I was supposed to be.

Culinary school was an incredible experience! Every day was something new—a new method, a new technique, a new baked good. During my time at school, I also decided what I want to do with my new found education. My mind kept returning to my childhood when I would make home videos teaching people how to bake. I finally realized, I want to pursue a career in food television. During my time at school, I worked on creating a one-of-a-kind instructional baking show. I also kept this blog where written experiences, baking tips, and photography of the gourmet creations I made in school rose in popularity and have been featured by various other food websites. Through this blog, I was discovered by various food stylists and was requested as help to style for Betty Crocker, featured on CBS’s The Talk. I finished my formal culinary education interning at The Los Angeles Times where I developed and test recipes, styled food for weekly prints and online photography, and prepped for television spots on KTLA Channel 5’s Eat Beat, and much more.

Ever since I finished at The Times, I’ve been actively pushing to produce my television show. Right now, we’re in the final stages of the proposal process and filming should begin mid-year. So, that’s my story folks. You know, each of us has gifts and talents, but in the end what matters most is what kind of good in the world we end up doing with them!


If you read all of this, my heart goes out to you for spending a good chunk of time getting to know me a little bit better. I do love to hear from all of you! Please feel free to email me questions or comments: theunexpectedculinarian@gmail.com. Again, thank you for the interest, the support, and the love! I’ll be sure to keep you all posted on the television show news as it progresses!




  1. Love this post, Jon. I'm so excited for your upcoming adventures! I may have to invest in a TV at this point - can't wait to see the show.

  2. John, this is inspiring! Truly! I can't wait to see your continued success!