After making it to the top four of MastChef Pinoy Edition, band vocalist Romulo “JR” Royol emerged victorious over female competitors Ivory Yat, Carla Mercaida, and Myra Santos by garnering a total of 96.1 points overall. He won P1 million, a kitchen showcase, and a Diploma Program for Professional Culinary Arts scholarship at the Center for Asian Culinary Studies.
It was almost a landslide victory after JR presented his “Bigorot” dish to the chef judges as well as celebrity guests Kris Aquino and Richard Gomez who all gave rave reviews to his goose dish which was cooked three-ways. “Dati, hindi ko naiintindihan what all the fuss is about when it comes to organic things, pero pinatunayan mo sa akin why it’s worth it to have real natural flavor, to have organic goose. Hindi ako fan ng goose pero I love yours. Nakaka-in love ka magluto. Perfection,” said Kris who gave it a whopping 99 points. Chef Judge Lau also agreed with Kris, “Hindi mo lang itinayo ang sarili mo, itinayo mo rin kung saan ka nanggaling.”
The 29-year-old used ingredients flown in all the way from his hometown in Benguet. “This fusion dish pays homage to my parent’s heritage because I have a Bicolano father and an Igorot mother. From the start pa lang yun na yung game plan na makapag-prepare ako ng isang dish na mag-re-represent sa pinanggalingan ko kasi yung kinalakihan kong lasa, yun na yun eh. Yung gata at yung smoky flavor. Medyo hinaluhan na lang natin ng mga ibang texture pero yun talaga,” he shared during the MasterChef Pinoy Edition: The Live Cook-off held last February 9 at the SM North Edsa Skydome.
JR looked overwhelmed after it was announced that Carla and Ivory took home second and third place respectively making him the top winner. “Honestly from the start hindi ako nag-e-expect na ako yung mananalo. I just go out her and play, parang ganun. I’m just doing my thing, not to expect na ako yung mananalo. Pero siyempre inisip ko na ako sana. Pagkarinig ko nung pangalan ni Ate Carla (for second place), namanhid lang yung pakiramdam ko eh, na parang lahat nag-freeze. Looking back sa journey namin, lahat kami ditong contestants, we never thought that this right here is possible. So nakakapangilabot,” he admitted.
The Rakistang Kusinero of Benguet also shared what his plans were after doing MasterChef Pinoy Edition. He admitted that he was happy to finally have the means to marry his longtime girlfriend. “Unang una, yung long overdue na wedding and of course, one million is for me napakalaking halaga for just one person, so sa family ko mapupunta. Nung December pa lang ako nakapag-set ng mga plano ko sa buhay. Nag-resign na ako sa trabaho and magtu-tuloy-tuloy na ako sa culinary. I’m looking forward to learning from the best, kay Chef Gene and Chef Gino (Gonzalez),” he shared.
Despite his new career path, JR said he will never say goodbye to performing music with his band. “Definitely tuloy na tuloy po yung pagbabanda which is something na napag-usapan na namin ng magkakabanda. Parang pinagbiyak na bunga na hindi puwede paghiwalayin sa buhay ko,” he said.