When Marvin Braceros decided to move to Milan, Italy, 17 years ago in the hopes of having a better future for himself and his family, it had seemed impossible for him to afford his dream of becoming a restaurateur, much less so making history as the owner of the first Filipino gourmet restaurant in the city.
He gave up his first job in the Philippines as a ground steward for an airline company to fly to Europe to work as a domestic helper. Despite having no legal papers with him, the Batangueño still pushed through with the promise of a huge salary, and later on, the opportunity to live out his dreams.
Taking advantage of Italy’s leniency towards undocumented workers like himself, Braceros then decided to enroll in a Culinary Arts course at the Italy Culinary Institute. Through this, he would have the honor to receive an offer from Dolce and Gabbana Martini Bar and Restaurant, among others.
Of the life-changing experience, Braceros said that it was in that moment when he broke himself free from his fears and doubts of ever achieving his dreams.
“I was able to change the way I felt about myself. I felt so small. Sometimes it is not about life battles but how you face the pangs of self-denial and self-satisfaction. When you fall into a pit full of false expectations and can’t pull yourself back up out of the hole,” said Braceros.
But he wasn’t anywhere near done yet. Soon, Braceros started to accept offers of catering to Filipinos in Milan—a venture that would later bring about his own restaurant, YUM Taste of the Philippines, the first to offer Filipino gourmet cuisine in Milan.
Thanks to Braceros’s efforts, the Milanese have now become acquainted with Filipino classic cuisine, including staples like pansit, kaldereta, and lumpia, to name a few.
“It’s always a question for me on why we aren’t successful in advocating and presenting our food to the world gastronomy scene. It should be promoted because our dishes like our neighboring countries deserve it. I made it a goal to put our restaurant as a destination to embark on a journey to paradise that is our country, the Philippines."
“Filipino food is something planned from the heart, cooked with pride, and served with hospitality. That’s how I embodied our cuisine,” said Braceros.
Braceros is currently in the Philippines to man YUM Milano’s first local branch located in Makati, and is eyeing to open another one in 2019.