Chef Tatung and his ‘Simpol’ team feed typhoon victims

Published November 26, 2020, 2:01 PM

by Noel Pabalate

Overwhelmed by the need to help others, chef Tatung almost forgot to launch his new cookbook

Left with almost nothing after their homes were devastated by typhoon “Ulysses,” many flood victims had to depend on relief operations to survive. Because it is our nature as Filipinos to help one another, a lot of people immediately offered aid. Among these good samaritans were chefs who willingly provided what displaced people badly needed at the time—cooked food.

During the aftermath, celebrity chef Myke “Tatung” Sarthou was one of the early respondents to do emergency food assistance. He admitted that feeding hundreds of people that day was unplanned. “I received a call from a chef friend, Edward Mateo, who was asking for some ingredients for the food he was preparing for the affected people in Marikina. On my way to deliver the ingredients, I saw how bad the situation was outside, so I felt obligated to help too,” he narrated.

Celebrity chef Myke Tatung Sarthou prepares food for their relief operations

Realizing that usual relief items like noodles, canned goods, and uncooked rice will not be directly useful at that moment since typhoon victims will not be able to cook, chef Tatung prepared a large pot of arroz caldo at his restaurant Pandan Asian Cafe in Tomas Morato, Quezon City. While his team was cooking, Relish, the restaurant beside theirs, noticed what they were doing and followed suit by adding another pot to the relief operation.

They loaded the two large pots of hot lugaw onto a pick-up truck and drove to Marikina. But because the road was still unpassable, they handed it to police officers, DPWH workers, and people who got stranded overnight along Marcos Highway. 

Wanting to feed more people who were greatly affected by the calamity, the ABS-CBN’s Umagandang Kay Ganda resident chef posted a call for help on Facebook. The following days, they were flooded with donations from friends, private companies, and anonymous donors. 

Because of the outpouring donations, chef Tatung, together with his Team Simpol (his Youtube and Facebook video channel crew), created the feeding program and relief packs distribution initiative “Sulong Simpol.”

In their succeeding relief operations in Marikina, 154 families in Kalumpang Elementary School benefited. On the other hand, 1,000 evacuees at Hermogenes Bautista Elementary School were also given hot meals including mixed veggies and menudillo, as prepared by chef Tatung’s team and some volunteers from the mobile kitchen they had set up on site. 

Team Simpol and volunteers gladly pose for a picture before they prepare food for 1,000 evacuees in their mobile kitchen at Hermogenes Bautista Elementary School, Marikina City.

They were able to feed over a thousand people as well in Libis, Rosario Rodriguez, Rizal. Likewise, Team Simpol got to distribute relief packs consisting of water, rice, and other essentials in other parts of  Montalban and Pinugay, Baras, Rizal.

According to chef Tatung, all these acts of kindness were only possible through the overflowing support from kindhearted sponsors and the unwavering efforts of volunteers, as well as his ever reliable Simpol staff. “It just takes one person to get things moving. Generosity is contagious,” chef said. 

Heading the relief operations round the clock almost made chef Tatung forget to post a teaser for his new book titled Simpol. The book was conceptualized to celebrate the moderate success of the channel bearing the same name. But since the channel was hacked last year, the book was put on hold.

The latest cookbook of chef Tatung, Simpol

‘With their achievements such as gaining more viewers and the launch of a new cookbook, under this challenging time, Team Simpol chose to celebrate by giving back to help disaster victims keep their hopes alive, and rise to move forward.’

Retrieving the channel, which has over a million subscribers, on Facebook and YouTube combined, and having more time during the lockdown led chef Tatung to finish his fourth cookbook in collaboration with NutriAsia. But what makes it different from the previous ones?

“What’s unique about this book is the QR code embedded in all 101 plus recipes. We want it to be interactive so we can still reach out if ever they need more information or they need additional tips,” he explained.  

Chef Tatung with his Simpol team distributes food packs to more than a thousand typhoon victims in Rodriguez, Rizal.

Although, you may seldom use the QR because the ingredients and procedures were written in sets, clearly organized in a manner you can easily visualize the steps in cooking the featured dishes. Being true to the title of the book, chef Tatung made cooking popular cuisine, even those known to be complicated, as simple as A-B-C.

Available in bookstores both on-ground and online, Simpol is not just about making Filipino classics and global favorites easy to prepare, but also makes the dishes more affordable yet extra special and delicious all the time. 

Simpol is not just about simple recipes; it is about embracing a more open mindset so we are able to focus on what is doable in our lives—simple solutions to everyday cooking challenges,” mused chef Tatung. 

With their achievements such as gaining more viewers and the launch of a new cookbook, under this challenging time, Team Simpol chose to celebrate by giving back to help disaster victims keep their hopes alive, and rise to move forward. “I think what we’re also trying to achieve in this charity work is to develop a culture of kindness and compassion,” he concluded.