Features

Erwan Heussaff Is Changing What It Means to Be Filipino

With an upcoming Tastemade series called Origins where he immerses himself in regional traditions and heirloom recipes, Erwan Heussaff depicts uncommon perspectives of Filipino culture

Photo by Pat Mateo

Erwan Heussaff’s idea of a life on camera had always been shelved, until an unlikely collaboration took place and he agreed to be Seabiscuit Films’ first guinea pig. What started with independent, self-produced recipe videos evolved into sponsored feature-length online travel documentaries and all sorts of fun, digestible digital content.

It started with The Fat Kid Inside, a personal food blog that was born out of a desire to inspire people to make better health and wellness choices. Looking at Heussaff now and the bright example he sets to those around him, it’s tough to even imagine he once struggled with obesity. “Getting into shape is easy. It’s black and white, you just need to have discipline. No ifs and no buts about it.” His hardcore, no-bullshit approach worked to improve his own status and he can attest to the fact that life really started for him when he shed those unwanted pounds. He took this newfound discipline and embraced it within every aspect of his life. 

What separates Heussaff from the rest of the fold is that he has mastered the fine art of saying no. He keeps his integrity at the core of every collaboration, being selective and only entertaining sponsors and clients who share his ethos and want to promote clean and healthy living. His mission is always to show that the road to health is clear, simple, and for everybody. 

Oftentimes, our interests lie outside our own culture—Hollywood movies, European fashion brands, Scandinavian architecture, and what have you—but with Heussaff’s navel-gazing interest in what exists locally, we get a sneak peek into all these things happening around us.

He is not a chef. There was no formal cooking school involved in the epiphany to find his calling. Cooking has just always been something that’s innate for him because he loves to take care of people. Ask why he learned to cook and he’ll tell you he grew up uncomfortably expecting other people to get things done for him.

He’s constantly studying and evolving, and I feel that he expresses his desires and curiosities through the projects we do together. Every project feels like a passion project and his drive is infectious. 

“Origins,” a series set to come out on the Tastemade online network in 2018, is the reason why Heussaff has been traveling far and wide within the Philippines. Innately curious and interested, he delves deeper and aims to discover regional traditions, heirloom recipes, and interesting produce. Why look elsewhere when there are so many stories just within the Philippines still waiting to be told? 

We’re always really fortunate to have the opportunity to see how so many different people live, to speak to them and be able to understand the things they believe in. One of the trips got us stranded in Batanes an extra two days but the upside was we met a tribe of fishermen who practice sacred rituals and beliefs when hunting for dorado (which they only fish for three months in a year).

In the Cordilleras, we were able to try etag, a salt-cured, sun-dried pork delicacy similar to pancetta. It’s so interesting to step back and think that these practices have been around for centuries and it’s alarming that most Filipinos don’t know about it. Oftentimes, our interests lie outside our own culture—Hollywood movies, European fashion brands, Scandinavian architecture, and what have you—but with Heussaff’s navel-gazing interest in what exists locally, we get a sneak peek into all these things happening around us. It gives all sorts of viewers a fresh perspective and insights on the diversity of what it means to be Filipino.

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