The kid who ran away to find his path

The path had seemed to have been laid for Rolando Laudico when he took a tourism course in college. But his fascination for all things culinary drove him to run away and join a kitchen. 

TRUE CALLING. Before Chef Rolando Laudico became the revered chef he is today, he had to drop out of school to work as a dishwasher in a fine dining restaurant.
At the tender age of seven, little Rolando was spending time in the kitchen, exploring the first few inklings of his calling. However, when it was time to pick a degree, he took tourism then had intended to move to Hotel and Restaurant Management. But before he could do so 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 La Primavera in Greenbelt as a dishwasher and at Carpaccio along Yakal in Makati as its first pizzaiolo (pizza cook).

Eventually, though, his parents discovered his changing of the path. 

“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 finishing his studies, now Chef Rolando Laudico or Chef Lau went on to work in the kitchens in France and Australia, until he decided to set a business here at home. 

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 was 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,” shares Chef Lau. “And it’s still working today, almost 18 years after I first got it.” 

That range, says the restaurateur, 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 him and his crew of dedicated cooks serve delicious, perfectly made dishes.

Today, when he’s not in his restaurants or attending to his many engagements, Chef Lau is honing the talent of his budding chefs at home. 

His 10-year-old Kea has been baking since she was seven, just like her dad, and commandeers the kitchen every so often to whip up her specialties. “Aside from my wife teaching her, she learns recipes on YouTube,” claims the proud dad. “More often than not, she does desserts, I think idol niya ang mama niya.”

Cooking also serves as a family bonding activity for the Laudicos. “We cook pretty much everything, and when we cook together, my kids usually help out with the ‘dirty jobs’ like peeling garlic or vegetables,” shares Chef Lau. 

Angus Beef Kare-kare, Bagnet Pakbet, and Christmas Sotanghon are some of the many dishes Chef Lau serves at his restaurant, Guevarra’s. (Photos from Guevarra’s Facebook page)
Things could have gone very differently for Chef Lau and the people who have been touched by his cooking had he turned his back on the culinary arts to pursue tourism, but it now seems inevitable that he would have gone down this road.

“No other profession allows you to receive immediate feedback from 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!” he enthuses.

Topics: Rolando Laudico , Hotel and Restaurant Management , Chef Lau , La Germania
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