When singer-director Raymond Lauchengco is under stress, he cooks to relax himself, takes photographs of his dishes, and posts them on Facebook. Food porn? Not quite. His dishes are artfully plated. One sees color, shapes, patterns, and textures as if they were mixed-media paintings.
Baby boomers and Gen X-ers will remember Lauchengco in the coming-of-age movie Bagets in 1984. It was a breakout film for him, Aga Muhlach, Herbert Bautista, JC Bonnin, and William Martinez.
Pushing 50, Lauchengco is still boyish-looking. Aside from singing and hosting shows, he composes music and directs special events. At one point in his career, he was into analog photography. He made his foray into film directing in The Gift, a short indie film about alternate mothers.
“I didn’t know I’d be cooking or directing. To me, my life was just being onstage. It goes to show how beautifully crafted the human being is. You are capable of learning. The more you practice, the better you get at it,” says Lauchengco.
He got into cooking out of necessity. When he married Mia Rocha, who is also his manager, the couple had no cook. Lauchengco wanted to please his wife by preparing dishes that she loved.
“She bakes well, but doesn’t cook. I had to learn,” he says. “The first time she asked me to make barbecue ribs, I came with beef ribs instead of pork ribs. I didn’t know the difference. Now I know all kinds of meat, the cuts, and the prices.”
Since Mia liked lamb, Lauchengco concocted lamb kaldereta, which became a hit. He explains that aside from getting quality ingredients, the success lies in the simmering. “A lot of people boil and boil. Simmering is to cook slowly under boiling point to bring out the flavors and let them marry each other. Some people do a roiling boil, which only toughens the meat, and you lose the sauce. This is therapy for me,” he says.
Upon plating the dish, Lauchengco brings it out to the lanai and photographs the food with his iPhone. The dish is against a white background and under natural light, and highlighted with a reflector. Each element is thoughtfully arranged, following the principles of composition and color. The food is composed to appear photogenic. “Should it be slanted, will it pop out if I put something red or yellow? I look at the dish with a photographer’s eye. If the food looks good, half the battle is won,” he said.
See more of Raymond Lauchengco’s dishes inside the July-August 2015 issue of Asian Dragon Magazine. You can purchase the July-August 2015 issue from the Asian Dragon Magazine App for Android and Apple.
[Photographs: PJ Enriquez]