Piolo, Alessandra, Sam jump out of the frying pan into the fire in Netflix series | Inquirer Entertainment

Piolo, Alessandra, Sam jump out of the frying pan into the fire in Netflix series

By: - Entertainment Editor
/ 12:15 AM November 30, 2023

From left: Sam Milby, Alessandra de Rossi and Piolo Pascual at the press con last Thursday

From left: Sam Milby, Alessandra de Rossi and Piolo Pascual at the press con last Thursday

The fine dining Filipino restaurant in Netflix’s “Replacing Chef Chico” may not be as rundown as the sandwich shop that Jeremy Allen White’s character in “The Bear” is tasked to bring back to its old glory.

But the do-or-die urgency of the resto Hain’s immediate operational concerns is just as compellingly depicted as it is astutely brought to life by a fine ensemble led by the show’s gorgeous lead stars, Piolo Pascual, Sam Milby and the sublime Alessandra de Rossi, whose acting chops are as alternately subtle and sharp as the titular character’s nasty tongue.


Just as noteworthy as the trio are Yesh Burce (as waitress and kitchen hand Wena) and Joel Saracho (as closeted chef de partie Carlon).


The show, which is Netflix’s inaugural Filipino series, is anchored on Alessandra’s sumptuously restrained but soulful turn as lovestruck sous chef Ella, who finds herself suddenly thrust from the frying pan into the fire when head chef Christopher “Chico” Guevarra (Sam) falls into a coma following a car accident.

Indeed, Ella has her work cut out for her. Before he fell ill, Chico has been given just six months to turn Hain’s dwindling reputation around or risk losing the restaurant entrusted to him by his slave-driving family. Hired to help Chico innovate Hain’s classy but increasingly “conservative” operations is consultant Raymond Soler (Piolo).

With actors who serve the story more than themselves, the series is truly in good hands. Truth is, we find it admirable and endearing for the country’s No.1 heartthrob to cede the thespic spotlight to his “Kita Kita” star—which shows not just maturity, but also time-honed wisdom on Piolo’s part.

Under the delicate guidance of showrunner Antoinette Jadaone and director Dan Villegas, Netflix’s inaugural eight-part Filipino series certainly has challenges to hurdle. After all, while the show isn’t really without flaws, no thanks to some supporting guest actors who turn on the schmaltz to get through to the series’ episodic demands, it nonetheless manages to tell distinctly Filipino stories that showcase the Pinoy cuisine’s unique and idiosyncratic appeal. More than anything, the show aptly demonstrates that Filipino food isn’t merely a disparate mishmash of culinary fusion, but a treasure trove of refined, elevated and personalized gastronomic dishes culled from inspired sources and resources.

When we spoke to the series’ three lead stars for this exclusive—and fun-filled—interview last week, we asked Piolo where all his drive was coming from.

Scene from “Replacing Chef Chico” —PHOTOS COURTESY OF NETFLIX

Scene from “Replacing Chef Chico” —PHOTOS COURTESY OF NETFLIX



Multifaceted options

Lately, we’ve all been seeing Piolo tirelessly hopscotching from one platform to another and exploring his multifaceted options—from theater (“Ibarra”) and concerts (“An Ultimate Night with Piolo” and his shows abroad) to films (Brillante Ma Mendoza’s “Moro” and the Metro Manila Film Festival entries, “Mallari” and “GomBurZa”) and series (“Replacing Chef Chico”). How versatile can you get? We also loved seeing Papa P sounding very relaxed in this interview.

“It was the pandemic—I really got bored,” he admitted. “When you’re a sucker for good stories and you want to do something productive, you sift through what’s available and see what you can do. Sayang, eh. After the pandemic, everything just piled up because there was an influx and demand for content.

“If you’re offered ‘Chef Chico,’ ‘Mallari,’ ‘GomBurZa’—how can you say no to these projects? So I just tried to accommodate everything. As an artist, it’s important to take on roles that don’t just suit you, but ultimately challenge you as well—and that’s the reason why I’m here.”

And even when the stories don’t revolve around his character, Piolo—who was as fun and playful as a kid throughout our chat—sees to it that each role allows him to expand his range and display a measure of versatility.

“It’s a conscious effort for me to really think outside the box … to get out of my comfort zone,” he asserted. “I want to get to know myself better as to how far I could take my artistry and craft.

“You know, I’m always going to be a student. I love learning. I love coming to a set with a clean slate and discovering what else I can do. I want to keep pushing the envelope and doing something great.”

For her part, Alex has been quoted in some interviews that she was done appearing in teleseryes because the nasty characters she’s often tasked to bring to life always put her in a foul mood.

“Malaki lang talaga ang ulo n’ya (laughs),” Piolo teased.

“No, just ‘contravida’ roles…it’s tough to play bad guys,” Alex reasoned.

“You want to talk about this now?” said Piolo, ribbing her further.

“We’re only given seven minutes here! Do you want me to unpack 10 years’ worth of pain? Charot (laughs)!”

Looking serious, Alex explained what the lure of their groundbreaking Netflix series was.

“With this series, I knew how all eight episodes would play out—buo na s’ya when I read it,” the actress recalled. “Unlike when you’re doing a TV series, you’re just presented a storyline. Then afterward, to your surprise, you realize, ‘So I’m the killer here? Of the mother?!’ Grabe (laughs)!

“In my last series, I just talked to a wall. It was not until the show was about to wrap up that it belatedly dawned on me that the role I was offered was distinctly different. Bakit parang iba ang in-offer sa akin? Why am I still making coffee (laughs)? But here, you know what’s going on. So, you have an idea if you can pull it off or not.

“OK, let’s not go there (pauses). Wait … support lang pala ako dito (laughs)?’ Piolo winkingly interjected.

Is it more enjoyable or satisfying as actors to create characters for the big screen or in a long-form story like a series?

Sam answered, “For me, it’s not about whether it’s a role in a movie or series—it’s more about the character. But I agree with Alessandra, it’s easier when you know the whole story beforehand. In a teleserye, you keep waiting for the scripts to come, so you don’t really know your character’s journey.” “Teleseryes just give you an overview of what’s to happen,” Piolo added. “If a soap opera runs for 16 or 100 episodes, you’ll never really know where the story or your character will go.” Alex agreed, “At least, here, alam mo kung anong ayaw mo … and you can say, ‘Ayoko ‘to! It’s not fair!’ Charot (laughs).”

Comfort foods

Since the story takes place in the kitchen and within a restaurant, we asked the three actors what their comfort food is when they’re feeling the blues.“Pares!” answered Alex.

“For me, it’s lugaw … arroz caldo,” disclosed Piolo.

Alex quipped, “Yes, I know you. You’d even stop to buy lugaw at 4 a.m.!”

Sam shared, “It’s hash browns for me…”

Alex interjected, “Ay, ang sarap … same here. That and French fries!”

Piolo recounted, “I’ve loved hash browns since I was a kid.”

Asked how similar or different they are from their respective characters, Sam said, “I’m very different from Chef Chico. In terms of passion, I can be passionate about many things, but his passion is misplaced!”

“Passion mo kayang magmura during the shoot (laughs),” said Piolo, ribbing Sam.

Sam pointed out, laughing, “I will admit, lumalabas ang pagka-Chico ko when I’m driving. I have road rage, especially now that Christmas is approaching [when traffic in the metropolis is at its worst], but unlike my character, I don’t really curse.”

When it was Alex’s turn to answer, she said, “Wala akong tendency for road rage. I may be very direct as a person, I don’t mince words. But I don’t sweat over things I can’t control. If you don’t know the person driving the other car, what’s the point in expressing anger?

How similar is Alex to Ella then?

“Very far. Malayo s’ya kay Ella!” said Piolo with a grin. “Ella is mahinhin.”

Alex replied, “Huwag kang magulo (playfully pulls Piolo’s hair)! Actually, Ella is like Alessandra de Rossi when I’m home with nobody else to talk to … mababa lang ang boses ko.”

Pressing on, Piolo added, “You’ll see her wearing her duster (laughs).”

Alex snapped, “Huwag ka namang ganyan…! Naka-headband pa nga ako, eh (laughs). Basta, I’m just chill. Perhaps the main difference is I have bigger facial expressions than Ella. It’s hard to know what’s in Ella’s mind.”

Piolo quipped again, “Pa-girl si Ella (laughs).”

Alex answered, “Hindi pa-girl. Ella goes, ‘Hmm, so that’s the problem …’ Then, she finds a solution for it. Me, on the other hand, I’d say, ‘Oh really? So what do we do now?’”

What about Piolo?

With a winking grin, Piolo said, “I just play what’s written in the call sheet … pogi ka (laughs)! Wait, what’s my role here again?”

Alex said, “Kung ako, Alessandra de Rossi—chef! Si Piolo … pogi s’ya—‘yun lang (laughs)! He’s forgotten his role already because he eats too much comfort food.”

Then, Piolo turned serious and said, “In ‘Replacing Chef Chico,’ you’ll just see me going head to head with Samuel because I’m trying to win Ella’s heart because, you know, she’s just a Simple Jane…”

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Alex then looked at Piolo, glaring, “What do you mean by ‘Plain Jane’? Are you insulting me? Ano’ng klaseng panlalait ‘yan?!”

TAGS: Alessandra De Rossi, Netflix series, Piolo Pascual, Sam Milby

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