Chef Harold is One Way Restaurant’s Gem

Chef Harold Nilooban of One Way Restaurant

by Jim Moriones, |

Chef Harold wasn’t able to learn his culinary skills in the four corners of a school. He learned it through years of experience shadowing top chefs.

Once a farm boy helping his father in Mauban, Quezon, he started to work for friends and friends of relatives while growing up.  He worked as a helper in a small restaurant in Quezon before working as an all around boy doing everything he can to earn money.

After a year of  working in that small restaurant, he was asked by the owner, “Harold, is that all you ever wanted to be? Working in a kitchen, washing dishes?”

That question motivated him to learn more skills than just washing dishes. From then on, the owner  allowed him to watch and learn from the cooks who were working in the restaurant.

His first assignment was to make siopao, an Asian food. He perfected a hand technique that ensures a smooth texture for all the siopaos that he cooked.  Chef Harold’s siopao secret is in the sauce. Unlike the usual siopao sauce that comes in a plastic wrap, Chef Harold’s siopao sauce is already integrated in the siopao filling. He prepares the filling a day before he makes the dough.

He started working in a karinderia in Famy, Laguna, which would later become one of the best bulaluhan in the place. Just before the owner died, the owner was able to hand down the bulalo recipe to Chef Harold.  The bulaluhan is famous in Famy, for this is where mountaineers stop by before and after the trekking the mountains.

“We cook 300-400 kilos of beef everyday for it is a 24 hour eatery and you’re lucky if you get five hours of sleep” he said.

Through sheer hard work, faith and patience, he started learning the techniques in cooking the local delicacy through slow cooking, which tenderizes the meat to the bones.  Working for only 33 pesos a day,  his work in the bulaluhan only lasted for only a year and 7 months.

It was at this point that he decided to seek greener pastures.

Chef Harold was then hired as a cook at a local stop-over restaurant for buses. He says that the experience felt like he was being pirated from one restaurant to another while raising his pay from Php 1,500 to Php 2,500. And with that kind of pay, all he had to do was cook. Everything he learned from thereon, he admitted, taught him patience, which, he says, is one of the skills you need to learn as a chef.

Now at 34 years old, Chef Harold says that though he started to learn being a commercial cook when he was just 17 years old, his culinary learning experience really started when he was about 9 years old. when he helped his father in peeling vegetables and grilling meat for family meals.

Chef Harold is known by colleagues and staff generous in sharing his knowledge. He acts as a mentor to his crew.

“The difficulty lies when your staff learns and leaves,” Chef Harold reveals.

However, the good thing about it is when you know that they have learned from you, I feel proud when I see them grow through the  knowledge of the craft which I myself learned from watching those top chefs I have been with, says Chef Harold.

Today, under Chef Harold’s baton are: Baby Jane Banatao and Marcel Velasquez, who handle of the Cold Section and Jomel Cunanan, who handles the bar and the hot kitchen. Marcel, started as a saleslady in a department store, then moved to Santis, before coming across Chef Harold in a project prior to joing One Way.

Chef's of the cold section
Jane Banatao (Left) and Marcel Velasquez (right)
Chef Jomel of the Hot section kitchen and bar
Jomel Cunanan
Chef Harold and Jomel
Chef Harold and Jomel

“One Way has a total 11 kitchen helpers, from the bar to the hot kitchen, says Chef Harold.

“Even the dishwasher knows how to bake, as I trained him as well,” he adds

Though they have their own positions and assignments, Chef harold makes sure that they should know a little bit of everything, He taught them that nobody  will be looking for the same food or menu every time, so they have to be keen attentive to the request of the customers.

“All of them are very efficient,” Chef Harold says.

“Even Joe checks the food that’s being served,” he adds.

They take pride in the service that they provide and the preparation of the food is absolutely amazing.

“In my experience, most Europeans don’t want their food mixed with others.” intimates Chef Harold,

Chef Harold monitors all the ingredients and preserves the authenticity of what the One Way staff serves. Together they make sure that there is customer delight in every taste.

One Way is now at the top in TripAdvisor Philippines as the best restaurant in Makati. And recently, it was recognized as one of the top restaurants by an international firm.

You can bet it’s because Joe and the crew have working hard to do everything to satisfy their customers.

One Way is now at the top of TripAdvisor Philippines as the best restaurant in Makati City, and has been recently recognized as one of the top restaurants by an international firm. You can bet it’s because Joe and the crew have kept the persevering and innovating.

It will be no wonder that soon, Chef Harold will be billed as one of the top chefs in the Philippines. For sure, he will.