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Food Talk With Julia Barretto and Sang Heon Lee of “Secret Ingredient”

Try not to get hungry as you watch Viu Original series “Secret Ingredient” lead stars Julia Barretto and Sang Heon Lee talk about comfort food, food cravings, and their favorite Filipino and Korean dishes

Sang Heon Lee and Julia Barretto of "Secret Ingredient"
Sang Heon Lee and Julia Barretto of "Secret Ingredient" | Photo from @viuphilippines


Julia Barretto and Sang Heon Lee’s series, Secret Ingredient, is almost here. Based on the trailer, teasers, and behind-the-scene snaps, we can already see it’ll be one mouthwatering show. As the lead actress said herself, “Everything’s going to be yummy in this series.”


Ahead of this show’s premiere this April, we got to chat with Julia and Sang Heon about this culinary-themed project and their favorite food picks.




Secret Ingredient is Viu’s first collaboration with Unilever Nutrition SEA and Indonesia. This Viu Original series follows the story of Maya and Hajoon as they navigate life, love, and the culinary world. Also starring in the series is Indonesian actor Nicholas Saputra who plays the role of Arif, an executive chef. 


“I think, aside from the really fun and friendly love stories, it’s just amazing how we get to highlight a lot of the dishes from the three different countries,” Julia shared, hinting at the fusion of the culinary scenes from the three lead stars’ home countries: the Philippines, South Korea, and Indonesia.



With their series’ underlying theme of pursuing one’s dreams and ambitions, we asked Julia and Sang Heon what to them is the “secret ingredient” for success. “A little bit of failure on top. Never be afraid of failure,” Sang Heon offered. As for Julia, humility is key: “Just be humble. Nothing is permanent. Anything can happen. So, just be humble.” 





When asked to describe her character, Maya, Julia picked the words “sweet and spicy.” She elaborated, “Spicy in a sense that she can be feisty, too, when she wants to go after what she needs to achieve.” With this project, Julia celebrates a couple of firsts: this is her first global series and it’s the first time she’s playing the role of a chef. 


Sang Heon, on the other hand, said that he shares some things in common with his character, Hajoon. “He has a bit of kick once he loves someone,” he began explaining. “He’s very true towards those feelings. He’s a lover but also a fighter, like in real life. We also have these similarities, and the obvious ones were we love cooking, we love food. I love food!”



And because Julia and Sang Heon are certified foodies, our Metro Talks episode with them was all about food. 


Since Sang Heon Lee was in the Philippines for quite some time, working on this series, we asked him what he thinks about Filipino food. “Amazing,” he summed it up. “I didn’t eat Korean [food] for, like, a month, and I’m fine… you got some spice, saltiness, rice. You guys love rice! But it’s all filling and the meat game is strong here. Everything was good.” One dish that stood out for him was gising-gising, also known as ginataang sigarilyas, which is a spicy vegetable dish. Julia brought this dish up during the interview and told Sang Heon that the English translation of gising is “wake up” or awake. 


Julia, meanwhile, who’s been to South Korea several times, said that she loves the meat there. She told Metro.Style, “I love that they also love the rice. Because every time I travel, I always find myself looking for rice, craving rice. Like, at some point, I got to get my rice fix… I’m a meat girl, I love my meat. So, I love their meat there. I love their spicy chicken, the dak… I mean, that’s why we have it so much here, the samgyupsal places, right?”




But when it comes to their ultimate comfort food, nothing quite compares to the taste of home. For Sang Heon, it’s always delightful to have a Korean meal with “Korean barbeque, pork belly, rice, soybean paste, soup, some wraps, kimchi, and ssamjang.”


The warmth of a ramen bowl is something Julia always finds herself craving. She loves Japanese food so much she even animatedly described how she prefers eating it: “When I need my comfort food, it would have to be ramen and then chicken karaage and gyoza and then you dip the chicken karaage in the ramen soup and then put the Japanese mayo then dip it in the soup then eat it.” But Filipino dishes like tinola (a Filipino soup dish typically cooked with pieces of chicken in ginger broth) and chicken adobo (a Filipino dish with pork or chicken cooked in soy sauce, vinegar, and garlic) are also among her favorites.


Secret Ingredient is streaming this April 30 only on Viu!


Photos from @viuphilippines


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