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LEAF 2018 SPEAKER IN FOCUS: Chef Jam Melchor

Chef Jam Melchor always dreamed of becoming a chef. He grew up in Angeles City, Pampanga, the Philippines’ culinary capital that boasts of prominent people engaged in food industry. He opened his first restaurant Villa Café in 2011, serving modernized Kapampangan heirloom recipes. This was followed by Bite Contemporary Cuisine in 2012, which was hailed as one of Manila’s best restaurants for 2013 by, and known for its organic dishes and its advocacy for sustainability. In 2013, he established Healthy Eats Manila, now known as YesPlate® considered as the only sustainable diet delivery service in the metro that aims to provide nutritious calorie counted meals and easy weight management solutions to professionals that includes top celebrities.


From 2013 to 2015, he was commissioned by the the Philippine government under the Department of Agriculture to be the Chef Ambassador representing the Philippines for the ASEAN Roadshow Linamnam!: Flavours of the Philippines. It was held in different ASEAN Countries to promote local products for export, with a food festival showcasing Filipino classic dishes.

This paved the way for him to convene the Philippine Culinary Heritage Movement, an SEC-registered, non-profit movement dedicated to the promotion and preservation of the Philippine culinary heritage and gastronomy.

An active member of Slow Food International, Chef Jam participated as a delegate and Philippine representative for the Terra Madre 2016 last September in Italy, cooking and presenting Filipino dishes and Philippine Ark of taste ingredients to the world. He was also tasked by the international movement to officially convene the Slow Food Youth Network Philippines to reach out to the youth for the preservation of local gastronomy.

Chef Jam Melchor, together with the Philippine Culinary Heritage Movement, spearheaded the call for the creation of the “Filipino Food Month” or “Buwan ng Kalutong Filipino”, calling out concerned government agencies like National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) and the Department of Agriculture to petition and request the President of the Republic of the Philippines for the declaration or issuance of an Executive Order / Presidential Proclamation that Filipino Cuisine will be celebrated annually every month of April.

This month-long celebration for the preservation of Filipino cuisine, will pay tribute to the rich culinary heritage of the country, and encourage and support the study and in-depth research about Philippine gastronomy. Last April 2018, The President, Rodrigo Roa Duterte finally signed the Presidential Proclamation declaring April as the “Filipino Food Month” which will be yearly observed as official national celebration.


Le Tavole Accademiche (Academic Tables) of the Università degli Studi di Scienze Gastronomiche (UNISG) in Pollenzo, Italy opened its kitchen to the culinary expertise of Chef Jam Melchor, He prepared and served savory Filipino dishes that opened up their palates to our local flavors and feed their knowledge about Filipino food culture.

The Academic Tables is more than just the dining hall at the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Pollenzo. It is a space that combines education, haut cuisine, and local products at a fair price. The preparation of each dish takes into account seasonality of locally sourced products, the furnishings and cutlery are ecosustainable, the kitchen features energy efficient equipment, and finally, meals are ordered in advance through a booking system which reduces food waste at the source.

In addition to the team of five UNISG chefs at the Academic Tables, each year they personally pick 25 guest chefs (Michelin Starred, food advocates) are invited from around the world to visit UNISG and prepare creative recipes for our students which respect the principles of good, clean, and fair by using local, seasonal ingredients while keeping the meal at an affordable price. Chef Jam Melchor was chosen by the UNISG to the be first Filipino chef to present and cook the local cuisine and gastronomy last October, 2017.

“I want this trip to be a platform for Filipino food to be recognized, especially in that university where they value gastronomy,” Chef Jam shares. “My goal is to inspire more Filipinos, the youth especially, to discover more about our cuisine like where it comes from and what is it all about.” UNISG hones the minds of future gastronomists about the global food culture through academic discussions and practical experiences that allow them to discover and taste more of what lies beyond their shores. Through the endeavors of chefs like Jam Melchor, we can be assured that conversations and dialogues about Filipino food and Philippine ingredients will continue with the next generation of gastronomes.


Chef Jam Melchor was chosen as the main host of the its newest travel and food show which debuted last December 2017. “MY PHILIPPINES” is a documentary that highlight different Philippine destinations and proves why these places are worth rediscovering and revisiting.

Last July 2018, Chef Jam Melchor representing the Philippines for 6th Eating City International Platform together with 28 youth food activists met in Paris, France representing their own country to share and learn more about sustainability and food systems at the same time experiencing good food & meaningfully connect with it. While each delegate engage with the subject from a different perspective — as grower, advocate and chef — each shared a determination to shape the future of food.

Check out declaration signed by the delegates:…/The-6Th-Villarceaux-Declaratio…

Presently, Chef Jam Melchor is also works as a part time faculty at St. Scholastica’s College and Manila Tytana Colleges teaching subjects about Food and Beverage, Culinary Arts and Sciences and Food Entrepreneurship.

What is your agri-dream for the Philippines/your home region/home country? There is a growing opportunity for young people engaged with agriculture and food to lead the charge for healthier and more equitable access to food. But to make growing, cooking and eating a better reality for the next generation, we must equip the youth with mentorship skills to pass on their knowledge to others.

Share your agri journey. Please see my bio (my work with the Department of Agriculture)

How can we take agriculture to the next level? Our farmers in the Philippines need empowerment, appreciation, and support. They need access to quality and affordable farm supplies that can guarantee them good returns. They also need the knowledge, skills, and technologies to combat the present challenges of the changing climate.

What excites you about LEAF? I am excited with this event as it will help to uplift the agricultural and related sectors through education, another potential means for individuals to contribute to nation-building.

What is your message to the next generation of agri-champs? The average age of a Filipino farmer is 47. On an important note, the Filipino youth has little or no interest in agriculture. With ageing farmers and uninterested youth, how will the future of our agricultural sector look like? The Filipino youth should be empowered to contribute to our agriculture sector. Scholarships in agriculture should be prioritized by relevant stakeholders and government. Youth, especially in rural farming communities should be empowered with advanced knowledge and skills in agricultural developments and innovations. Let us not wait for the time when our farmers will give up on us. It is time to rethink how each of us and help them, even in small ways.

What is the future of Agriculture in the Philippines/your home region/home country, in 3 words. AFFORDABLE. EFFICIENT. ADVANCED.

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