Finding my voice in the kitchen during covid-19

Harold Villarosa

I started working and cooking at McDonalds when I was 15 years old. I also cooked a lot of Filipino food with my father in the South Bronx. But I think I really found my voice in the kitchen during Covid. That was when I decided to coin the phrase “Filipino Soul Food” – it would become my niche in the industry.

I’ve always felt that the best way to manage teams is with a total buy-in. Everyone has to have their own roles to fill and have the opportunity to speak up and voice their opinion about what they believe needs to be done, or what needs to change. I also believe using family meal as a learning and teaching moment is very important – your team needs to become as close as a family. That’s why I value honest input and hard work - you need to be able to bring something to the table. I enjoy surrounding myself with people to discuss the cuisine of their country, their origin stories, and seeing where that leads.

 

 

Since Covid happened, things have changed. It affected me by not allowing me to run my restaurant anymore and forcing me to pivot and find a new lane for myself, - recreating my brand. But I used the opportunity I had. Using my unemployment I propelled myself into the position I am in now. I used the government help to really focus on myself, my wellness and to find a new angle into the restaurant industry.

I disagreed in pushing for quick reopenings. I know that if things continue to worsen, it’ll effect the economic stability of our city. From our farmer suppliers, to real estate and the consumer’s income. I think if you want to be safe, and maintain the economy than you don’t want to open too fast. I feel like after this, the restaurant industry will never look the same. You’ll no longer have these huge spaces seating 140 people. I think it will all change, and we needs to find a better way – a better system – in order to make restaurants work again.