dining celebrity chefs Chef's Corner: John Lagundi
Chef's Corner: John Lagundi
Updated on 09 December 2022

Cooking is an essential life skill for all, although only some have achieved the mastery of the craft.

Chef John Lagundi, Chef de Cuisine at The Birdcage is a great example of showcasing his love for food through a delicious fusion of Asian and Latin American flavours.

Having started his culinary journey by cultivating knowledge and training across Asia and Europe, Chef John then brought his expertise to Michelin-starred restaurants in New York.

Wanting to make a difference in the culinary world in the Middle East, Chef John was a part of the opening of three outlets for ME Dubai, Botanica, Central and Deseo.

Now part of the Pullman Hotel Downtown, Chef John is making a difference by creating delectable dishes for all to enjoy at Birdcage, and shared his thoughts on his years in the culinary world.

How did you get started in the food industry?

I began my culinary journey a long time ago. During my first internship in Miami, Florida, I worked as a food runner and spent a lot of time in the kitchen observing chefs and the way they cook with love and passion. It was then, when I was serving food to the guest’s tables, that I saw how much joy they found in the dishes being served to them, and I knew I wanted to be a chef. Most importantly, I used to love the vibe and energy inside the kitchen, I wanted to be a part of that.

What is your earliest cooking memory?

As a child, I used to attend Boy Scout camps during the summer, and I used to look forward to being assigned as the cook for the whole group. Getting positive feedback from everyone who was tasting my cooking used to make me feel so proud. This is one of the childhood memories I treasure the most.

What is your favourite dish from your country?

A dish that every Filipino citizen loves is Adobo, which is a dish that originated in the Philippines and has become a national dish of sorts. Adobo is prepared by using pantry basics like white vinegar, garlic, soy sauce, peppercorns and bay leaves to create a marinade. The meat is then marinated overnight to enhance the flavours before being simmered on the stove until thoroughly cooked. It is delicious and reminds me of home every time I make it.

What is the one go-to and easy snack you love making for midnight cravings?

One of my midnight go-to snacks is instant noodles, which do not even require cooking! But after a long day at work, I enjoy the simple and easy dishes that do not require time or effort.

What is the one raw ingredient you cannot cook without from your country? 

Garlic has to be the most important ingredient in Asian cooking. It adds flavour to every dish and also has a lot of nutrients. Without it, the food that I cook just would not be complete.

What is the best dish to try at your restaurant?

In general, everything on the menu is a must-try since it has been curated based on my experiences and travels all around the world and boasts so many flavours and fusions. However, if I had to choose just one dish, I would say that I personally enjoy the chorizo gyoza the most.

Chef John Lagundi

Chef de Cuisine

The Birdcage


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