Home cook fan fave with 45M views on YouTube wins Top Chef Amateurs

The amateur chef is also a tennis pro, an actor, and bestselling author.

By Loida Nicolas Lewis

Lorenzo L. Beronilla landed his Epicurious 4 Levels Series on YouTube almost like a fluke. But on second thought, he felt, “It is fate. I was at the right place at the right time.”

A friend referred him to an Epicurious cooking pilot series on YouTube. They liked what they saw and he was asked to appear for a series Epicurious 4 Levels where he became a fan favorite.  This series spawned a pilot called “Pro Chef vs Home Cook” which became a sensation within minutes of its airing.  The show trended Number 1 on YouTube. As of July, 2021, it has been viewed over 45 million times!

What is his secret?

Lorenzo, who belongs to an emerging breed of celebrity amateur chefs — also known as a Home Cooks or those who did not go to culinary school — is happy being in the kitchen. He remembers often watching the cooking of his mother, his aunts, his Tita Chuchie de Vera and Tita Lina Espinosa as well as other close relatives. Everyone that babysat him ended up in the kitchen. He takes pride in having a photographic memory because he is one of those so-called culinary “rebels” who do not need to measure ingredients. He believes the Filipino way of cooking is by taste.

Lorenzo makes a good living acting in TV commercials. That is his bread and butter. Occasionally, he would land bit parts in movies which he seeks out to feed his soul. He recently appeared in a Jollibee ad where he was cast as the father who loses his job due to the pandemic.  There is no scripted dialog, just a storyline of emotional scenes that ends with a Filipino family celebrating over a Jollibee dinner when the father finally finds a job.

He said he wrote his book entirely on his cell phone. 

On July 8th, he won on BRAVO TV’s new show called “Top Chef Amateurs” where he competed against another Home Cook, an architect, in the Egg Challenge segment. In 45 minutes, they were to cook a dish using three varieties of eggs. “It was nerve-racking,” he said but he was cool under pressure as he prepared a spicy Seared Scallop Filled Omelet with two types of caviar on top. The plate presentation was fabulously decorated with a faux bird’s nest. With the help of his competition partner, Chef Richard Blais, he won!

Lorenzo is the youngest of five children of Dr. Hilarion Beronilla Jr. and Carmencita Luarca Beronilla. His parents came to the U.S. in the 1960s when immigration laws opened up for professionals like medical doctors. All four siblings were born in the Philippines. His father settled in Pennsylvania where his residency was available.  His mother came later with the older brothers and sisters. Lorenzo was born in the U.S. because “my father wanted me to be President of this country.” A running joke in the Beronilla family.

As a young boy, Lorenzo was already showing his creative side. He loved to draw, and in 3rd Grade, he could paint with acrylic, draw portraits, and take good pictures. He studied microbiology and biochemistry at the University of Pittsburgh with an eye toward a medical future. But that was not what he really wanted. He ended up becoming a tennis pro, an actor, and now an author.

Lorenzo’s bestseller, “Let’s Do This, Folks!  Home Cooking with Lorenzo: Delicious Meals made E-Z,” – published June 2021 by Page Street Publishing — is a collection of homemade recipes, and the story of the chef’s blessed life. He claims he wrote his book on his cell phone for easy access. His joyful, can-do personality is reflected throughout the cookbook. He dedicated his book to his nephew Kai and to his father whose “daily boost of encouragement, was always reminding me to pursue my creative side and to have a good time while doing it.”  It could well be Lorenzo’s secret to a successful life.

(C) The FilAm 2021

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