Cookbooks are not only collections of recipes but also repositories of culinary wisdom, gustatory history, and communal stories. In many ways, cookbooks reveal realities about a particular culture, period in time, and notable individuals. They give a glimpse of flavor preferences of a slice of the population and even offer a hint on the economic situation at the time of the cookbook’s publication.

In the Philippines, cookbooks have successfully preserved treasured recipes that are passed on from one generation to the next. And to many, these cookbooks have served as culinary bibles, a reference regularly consulted and visited for cooking guidance. This is the case for not only home cooks but also professionals who have made a living out of preparing and serving their creations. For many of them, these cookbooks have made an impact early on in their lives, persuading them to pursue this career, or later on during years of finding purpose.

Here are cookbooks on Filipino cuisine that have made an impact on the careers of some Filipino chefs:



Flavors of the Philippines: A Culinary Guide to the Best of the Islands by Glenda Rosales-Barretto

“Back in college, when I was studying culinary arts, there weren’t many books about regional Filipino food. Then I discovered Flavors of the Philippines. This book made me love our food more. It also reconnected me with the flavors of Zamboanga, where we usually visited during summer breaks to see our family from my mother’s side. It brought back memories of eating satti, piyanggang, and tiyula itum.”—Decker Gokioco

“Flavors of the Philippines by Glenda Barretto was my essential cookbook and basis for Filipino cuisine. It became my guide when I conceptualized the food for M Cafe, Kabila, and Friends & Family.”—Kalel Chan

Also Filipino: 75 Regional Dishes I Never Had Growing Up by Angelo Comsti

“Aside from the very nice aesthetic of the book and pictures that make you drool, this cookbook opened my eyes to how diverse Filipino food is. This book made me realize that I have yet to scratch the surface of the rich collection of local food. It served as a catalyst that reignited my curiosity in our very own cuisine; not only to learn and cook but more so to taste and enjoy!”—Noel Maurico

Let’s Cook with Nora by Nora Daza

“Let’s Cook with Nora was one of the first cookbooks I was introduced to since my sister was using it for all our cooking at home. When I became a chef, it was a reference book for all dishes Filipinos eat, so it was always a part of the dishes I cooked and even baked. It was so complete and had easy-to-follow recipes.”—JunJun de Guzman

“This got me started cooking at a young age and it still is the Filipino cookbook I turn to when I need the inspiration to create a new recipe. I think every Filipino cook should have their own copy at home.”—Sharwin Tee

Philippine Cookery: From Heart to Platter by Chef Tatung Sarthou

“As years went by, I came across this book that became a key inspiration for the next chapter in my cooking career. Philippine Cookery opened my mind and heart to Filipino ingredients. For years, I got stuck working mainly within the boundaries of French and Japanese cuisine. After finishing the book, I became motivated to learn more about our country’s food history, culture, cooking traditions, and all the wonderful and unique ingredients that grow here. I eventually opened Alamat Filipino Pub and Agimat Foraging Bar in Poblacion, both heavily Filipino-influenced concepts inspired by my newfound love for everything local. It is refreshing to work with my country’s local ingredients, and I have somehow gained a new purpose when it comes to using food to tell the stories of our people, history, and culture.”—Niño Laus

The Best of Food Magazine Cookbook by Norma Olizon-Chikiamco

“I remember opening this recipe compilation all the time when I was still in high school. I would get ideas then try some of the recipes. I guess, I liked that they were not all very traditional recipes. They were dishes created by different people and highlighted their interpretation and how they enjoyed eating it.”—Natalia Moran

Maya Kitchen Cookbooks

“The Maya Kitchen cookbooks are very helpful especially when one wants to get into baking.”—Jackie Ang Po

“We had a lot of Maya Kitchen cookbooks during the 1990s. I have a lot of childhood memories of slowly discovering my love for cooking because of those books and their summer classes. I recall how my mom would put me on a small ladder near the stove just so I could see what I was cooking while reading the directions carefully one by one.”—Tina Legarda

Simpol by Chef Tatung Sarthou

“I never really studied Filipino cooking because I went to culinary school abroad. Let’s Cook with Nora and Simpol simplified it for me and gave me the food I had while growing up. Getting to cook the dishes during lockdown was a lot of fun and eye-opening for me.”—Sunshine Y. Puey

The Dessert Comes First by Lori Baltazar

“Because The Dessert Comes First is a romance novel and a recipe book and a kitchen adventure all rolled into one!”—Edward Bugia

Milkier Pigs & Violet Gold: Philippine Food Stories by Bryan Koh

“Milkier Pigs & Gold was a great cookbook as it allowed me and other readers to visit some faraway places and discover more about Filipino cuisine.”—Josh Boutwood