Leaps of faith
Tatler Philippines|July 2021
Taking chances in life has led me to become Drew Barrymore’s private chef, a regular guest on her talk show, and a contributor to her upcoming cookbook
Pilar Valdes as told to Isabel Martel Francisco

My path to the stove was never an obvious one, although I have always been, as my mum says proudly, a very good eater. After graduating from college in New York City, I worked in the field of non-profit and philanthropy for ten years before making a (fairly) late-in-life career switch to the culinary world. I suppose it should have been more apparent to me; throughout those years, respite from my office job has found me cooking monthly dinners for 40 people, and baking bread at 4am.

Growing up, my mother’s kitchen was in constant open-house mode, humming with activity with the feeding of a steady rotation of friends and family. I remember our meals so vividly—like a beautiful roast beef, studded with garlic and rubbed down with fresh herbs. Our sushi nights meant a trip to the Japanese speciality store, and a lesson on how to make sushi rice (I would end up drinking the vinegar-dashi mixture when mum wasn’t looking). Oh, and the mussels— glorious, succulent and fresh, baked in coconut milk and spiked with chillies and deep-fried garlic.

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