Tonight is the premiere of Food Buddha, a new TV show starring Rodelio Aglibot, the chef at Sunda (110 W. Illinois St.; 312-644-0500). In each episode, Aglibot travels to a different city and orders one of everything at three restaurants there. (We hope the producers have arranged for him to visit Greek diners in New Jersey.) He then uses the meals as inspiration for a new dish at Sunda. “I look at being a chef as a relationship,” Aglibot says. “I am in love with what I do. What do you have to do to remain in love? My father said you have to work at it. For me, I travel, I eat, I meet people. That’s what a lot of the show is about.”
Aglibot has created dishes while traveling before. For example, the Brussels sprouts salad on Sunda’s menu was born out of a crispy morning glory salad at the Los Angeles restaurant Jitlada. “I wasn’t even finished eating the salad, and I was calling my sous chefs to say ‘Order me ten pounds of Brussels sprouts for Monday morning when I get back,’” he says.
The first two episodes of Food Buddha take Aglibot to New Orleans and San Francisco. He was coy about the resulting dishes, which debut at Sunda tomorrow, June 15th—all he’d reveal was that the New Orleans dish is an appetizer based on a land animal, and San Francisco’s, a seafood entrée. If the dishes succeed, they will appear on the everyday menu.
Just as Darwinist as Sunda’s menu is the world of TV. If the show succeeds, specials generated from Aglibot’s TV travels will continue. “We’ve filmed only these two. It’s a summer special pilot. We’re still waiting to get the green light,” he says. The episodes air at 9 and 9:30 p.m. on TLC.