Interview with Executive Chef Michael Calilung
Where did you grow up and what was your path to becoming a chef?
I grew up in the Luzon region of Tarlac City, often called the culinary capital of the Philippines. I was always curious about and amazed by the beautiful food I saw when watching TV. I asked my mom for her help and guidance with cooking and she became the biggest factor and influence on my career path.
When did you join Azamara?
I joined the Azamara Journey on July 27, 2018.
Tell us about your family, where you live now and how you spend your free time at home.
I'm married to the love of my life, Penafrancia Depona Calilung. She was the first woman in my life and will be the last. We have three beautiful daughters, Mia, Mica, and Pia. We live in Tarlac City, and I spend most of my vacation time with them. We enjoy gardening and going out to their favorite restaurant.
What do you do to stay educated about new trends?
I'm a member of the World Association of Chefs’ Societies and the Emirates Culinary Guild. Most of the time, I get a newsletter which highlights new market trends and products to help us with our production.
How do you ensure and/or test the quality of your ingredients?
I’m always involved in receiving the ingredients, so I can make sure that my products are fresh and top quality when they arrive. I never settle for sub-standard and I always ensure everything is the best and freshest.
Tell me something you would like to learn or improve upon.
I want to improve more on our guests’ culinary experience with every country and city we visit. I want to learn all about the food, delicacies, and local produce of different cultures.
What do you enjoy most about working with Azamara?
All the Azamara staff is helpful, friendly, and always makes me feel at home. When I come back onboard, I’m not just coming back to work – I’m coming back home to my Azamara family.
What’s you most memorable restaurant destination food?
Java Restaurant in Randwick, New South Wales, Australia. It was authentic Indonesian cuisine that really caught my taste buds by surprise.
What is the most essential item in your kitchen?
The oven, because I can make everything in there. Since I started cooking, it has been my best friend.
What is your regular comfort meal?
Fried chicken - it makes me happy and relaxed.