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  • Ida Beltran-Lucila

JP Dublado: Doubling Up on Culinary Achievements

Last year, in preparation for Philippine Heritage Month events, I was planning the Edmonton screening of the “Ulam: Main Dish” documentary. I was searching for speakers for the post-screening panel discussion when a friend recommended JP Dublado, of River Cree Resort and Casino. “You have to talk to him. He’s young and he’s very good”, is what I was told.

JP is a soft spoken and reticent young man. But don’t let this quiet demeanour fool you. Because he is one driven and creative man, facing challenges with nerves of steel. Currently the Chef de Cuisine at River Cree Resort and Casino, JP found his passion for cooking when he started working at corporate kitchens upon his family’s move to Canada. This encouraged him to pursue culinary studies at Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT) and proceeded to work at top restaurants like The Vintage Chophouse and the River Cafe in Calgary, Wildflower Grill, and learning and working with top chefs Andrew Winfield, Rob Bates, Duncan Ly and Matthias Fong.

JP has also done Pop Ups through his catering company. He is also one of the featured chefs in the Bayanihan Series dinners, collaborating with Fili-stix, Edgar Gutierrez and Earl Briones, where they advocate and promote modern Asian or Filipino flavours in their cooking styles.

Last October 2019, JP was one of nine chefs competing in Canada’s Great Kitchen Party. This event and fundraiser celebrates excellence in Canadian food, wine, sports and music, and the chef’s competition is the highlight. A description of his entry: “At the heart of his dish was a small block of a terrine made with pungent char siu foie gras, cured duck egg yolk and four layers of truffle – a gorgeous umami bomb that had the judges swooning. Beside this was a curious vermilion dumpling that tapered up to a point. The surface was mashed purple ube yam, crisply fried, while inside we discovered rich and flavourful chicken rillettes. All sorts of little treats surrounded these two items, so that each mouthful was an entirely fresh experience. Here were little drums of kiwi fruit (that banal fruit’s finest hour?) topped with tangy soy-pickled baby chanterelles like jaunty little hats. Over there was a pool of silky yellow purée made from parsnip, carrot and brown butter. Calamansi pearls tart with verjus and green tea added a sharp component; white foie gras powder brought more soft fat to the party. Burgundy truffles had been grated in a couple of places and a single blue pansy completed the spectrum of what was already a mighty colourful plate. Chef’s wine was a fine match, the opulently aromatic 2018 Sauvignon Blanc-Semillon blend from Howling Bluff on B.C.’s Naramata Bench, its passion fruit intensity standing up well to the big flavours of the dish.”

Who’s not salivating after reading that paragraph? Is it any wonder that JP Dublado bagged the gold? Garnering the top prize also meant competing against other regional winners at the Canadian Culinary Championships in Ottawa held last January. Challenges in this competition consisted of: (1) Mystery Wine Pairing - each chef was handed an unlabelled bottle of wine with which to pair their tasting plates with a budget of $500 for 400 portions; (2) Black Box competition - chefs were given just one hour to study a box of seven very Canadian mystery ingredients, devise a dish and create 15 perfect plates for the judges. The black boxes contained Wapiti (elk), phytoplankton powder, flaked naked oats, pickled fiddleheads, black kale, parsley roots and Haskap berries; (3) repeat of their winning entries that qualified them for the Culinary Championships. JP, living up to his last name of Dublado, did a double peat, winning back to back People’s Choice Award.

Up next for JP is competing in Food Network Canada’s Fire Masters. In this competition, “Three chefs push their grilling talents to the limit as they battle in fiery culinary challenges, cooking up creative, mouthwatering, flame-kissed dishes. One chef is eliminated in each of the first two rounds. The last chef standing goes head-to-head with a Fire Masters judge in an epic third and final round, vying for $10,000 cash and the coveted title of Fire Masters Champion!” Watch out for his episode on July 16.

JP has also been reaching out to the Filipinofoodmovement in California. This is a nonprofit organization that features Filipino food and chefs across America. He, along with Kanto98, Filistix, and Yelo’d, plan to start a charter here in Alberta.

All the best JP! Keep piling up and doubling on those achievements. Your name, after all, is Dublado.


**This article by Ida Beltran-Lucila was published in the June 2020 issue of the Alberta Filipino Journal.

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