Chef Margarita Fores Turns Her Passion For Food To A Knighthood From Italy
She loved cooking and she was great at all things Italian cuisine. Who would've expected that her love for Italian food and culture would get her knighted, one of the highest honors a civilian can ever only dream of in a lifetime?
Chef Margarita Fores was only 10 when her mother first brought her to Italy. From that moment, she may not have envisioned herself to achieve great things, but her work and her accomplishments now speak great lengths of how hard she has worked, how far she has gone, and how much passion she has invested on her craft.
And all of her achievements in the field of cooking—from one restaurant to another, and even a cooking school—has come into full circle with a knighthood from Italy.
On Tuesday, November 13, Italian Ambassador Giorgio Guglielmino held a casual get-together at his house over pizza and pasta and beer, and announced that Chef Margarita will be receiving an honorary knighthood from the Order of the Star of Italy. This officially makes her a Cavaliere dell'Ordine Della Stella d'Italia.
“I was totally shocked, and of course, elated,” shares Chef Margarita about receiving the award. “Because apparently, the ambassador already knew since May, and told some people from my team and some of my friends. But they didn't know how to tell me because they wanted to surprise me.”
The knighthood comes after years of work by the humble and hardworking chef, who has toiled in the kitchen to start notable restaurant concepts such as Cibo, Grace Park, Lusso, and more.
The Order of the Star of Italy is a second civilian honor given to individuals who have helped promote and establish friendly relations and cooperation between Italy and other countries. And Chef Margarita's knighthood represents her love for both Italy and the Philippines, and how this love has enabled her to bring together the two countries in a culinary journey.
Still can’t believe it! Cavaliere dell’Ordine della Stella d’Italia. I am now a Cavaliere. So blown away and forever grateful. #iloveitaly @giorgioguglielmino1 Grazie di Cuore for believing in me. Thank you, Italia for inspiring me so much and helping me fall totally in love with my own country as well, because of you.
She says, “I think it's a wonderful validation of all the work that I've been doing for the past 31 years. I always say, although I did start my work in Italy, I think it was a real Godsend to start my appreciation for good food and culture in Italy, and imbibe their respect for ingredients and the long history of their heritage, and the way they look at food and ingredients as something that were passed on through generations, that helped me eventually appreciate Filipino cuisine and ingredients. When I first came back from Italy, that's when I started to seek out unique Filipino ingredients that have been taken for granted all these years. It helped me fall in love with my own as well—and that's really been the body of my work for the past 31 years.”
When asked about some of her most memorable work that have really helped build Italian and Filipino ties, she cites her work in bringing to the Philippines a franchise of the Italian brand Casa Artusi. Chef Margarita brought all the experience, knowledge, and techniques she has learned over the years from Italy together with the culinary heavyweight Casa Artusi from Forlimpopoli in Northern Italy, to bring world-class culinary closer to home. Casa Artusi Philippines is the first off-shore campus of the Italian cooking school, and its operations here in Manila is very close to Chef Margarita's heart.
There is nothing more fulfilling indeed than seeing your work validated by the world. Chef Margarita gushes over her Instagram page, “Still can't believe it! I am now a Cavaliere. So blown away and forever grateful.”
Chef Margarita kisses her pin
Chef Margarita (rightmost) with Metro Channel's Lala Lazaro and ABS-CBN Lifestyle Ecosystem Head Paolo Pineda