Sweet and sour flavors, when combined, will create an excellent taste. To husband-and-wife chefs Jay Marc Prieto and Kim Cudia-Prieto, these flavors sum up their gastronomic journey from the Philippines to Australia.
Married for eight years, the couple’s story began way back in the Philippines during their culinary days at CCA Manila. “It all started with the taste of turon during our Filipino cuisine class, which was during Level 6,” Kim recalls. “We have a mutual understanding at that time, then Jay asked me to taste and check the turon he was making.”
She didn’t imagine that eventually, Jay will become “the one.” At the time, there were plenty of differences between them and their personalities were opposite, with Kim being an extrovert and Jay the silent type. They were even competitors in classes but a common love for food sparked romance between them and led them to chase their culinary careers in Australia, deciding to leave the country in 2008.
Nine years later, they opened their own restaurant Lolo and Lola, which is one of only two Filipino restaurants in Canberra. “We call ourselves as ‘self-proclaimed’ Filipino food ambassadors here in Canberra,” says Kim. “Surprisingly, Canberrans aren’t afraid to try out new flavors,” Jay adds.
“I still remember one of my chef instructors telling me to treat ingredients with respect and, more importantly, to treat others with respect regardless of where they come from,” says Kim Prieto.
Soon after, the restaurant was recognized by the Australian Good Food Guide as the “Reader’s Choice – Best Filipino Restaurant in Australian Capital Territory 2019.” The award is given annually to restaurants that have performed excellently, from food to service, and is chosen through votes.
“We want to showcase more Filipino dishes and to innovate so as not to bore clients with the same food again and again,” Kim explains, adding that items like bagnet (deep-fried pork chunks) and chicken barbecue will always be staples on the menu.
Despite the success the Prietos have experienced in Canberra, there remains an appreciation for the kind of training and education they had received back home that speaks directly to how they have managed to remain grounded.
“I still remember one of my chef instructors telling me to treat ingredients with respect and, more importantly, to treat others with respect regardless of where they come from,” says Kim.