Rolando and Jacqueline Laudico: A Pairing Made to Last

Their shared love for food brought chefs Rolando and Jacqueline Laudico together as college blockmates. Today, it’s the backbone of their celebrated careers and family life.

This story appeared in the Modern Parenting Mother’s Day and Father’s Day May 2024 issue.

Many know chefs Rolando and Jacqueline (better known as Chef Lau and Chef Jac) as the force behind their pioneering local concepts — with foodies of the noughties remembering the celebrated Bistro Filipino as it pushed the envelope for Filipino food a decade before chefs began reaping James Beard awards abroad. 

Today, the culinary couple helms some of the most steadfast establishments. The two run beloved buffet restaurants Guevarra’s, OK Café, and Chef Laudico at Forest Hills, the latter of which golf club members and visitors can enjoy the chefs’ signature refined touch on Filipino dishes.

How it all began

Few know that the couple’s shared love affair for food began when they were blockmates at the University of the Philippines. “I was already cooking by the time I was seven… I went to college at UP and that’s where I met Jackie. She also started cooking young, and we fell in love,” Rolando, known in the industry and by his fans as Chef Lau, narrates.

“We would have study groups in his house, and sometimes he would cook for us. So, eventually, I learned that he loves to cook, and I love to bake and cook as well,” Chef Jac shares — with her love for baking picked up from afternoons growing up in Iloilo learning to bake leche flan, chiffon cake, and brazo de Mercedes from her grandmother.

The two would also turn this shared love of food into their life’s work — Chef Lau went on to pursue further studies at the Culinary Institute of America and work in France and Australia before coming back to the Philippines, where he and Chef Jac would marry and establish a decades-long catering business that they operate to this day.

Chefs Rolando and Jacqueline Laudico
Chefs Rolando and Jacqueline Laudico

How it’s going

And while being in the food industry takes fortitude and grit, it’s a sheer love for food that keeps them going. “There’s a saying, ‘Do what you love, and you don’t have to work a day in your life.’ I think that’s what I did because it’s really not difficult for me to think of a business that I would enjoy,” Jac explains.

While passion is what keeps the fuel burning, the couple admits that there are challenges to being in the food business, let alone working together as a couple with children.

“It was really difficult from the start. When your kids are really young, they’re really dependent on you and your time. Jac would bring our youngest to Bistro Filipino because she couldn’t leave her alone in the house,” Chef Lau narrates.

Still, the couple manages to be hands-on with their children, Orlando, 19, and Kea, 17, adding that their dynamic has gotten easier as they got older. 

According to Chef Jac, it’s all about knowing — and sticking — to their priorities to make it work. “You have to make sure your kids and your family always come first. You block off those activities, those dates where they have important activities,” she says.

Parenting at home and work

Being parents and leaders in the restaurant also means they have to practice what they preach to their children and their staff.

“You have to lead by example. You can tell them, ‘Kailangan, masipag kayo. Kailangan, hindi kayo nale-late,’ but they see you late or lazing around [then it doesn’t work]. It’s the same with the kids… you should also inspire your staff,” Jac shares.

For Chef Lau, it’s about inculcating the value of hard work and passion. “I always tell my kids, ‘Whenever you do something, you give it 100% effort and enjoy it. Because if you don’t really enjoy it, then you’re not going to do a good job.'”

While the couple may butt heads at times because of their different opinions, they’re quick to share that they complement each other. “I’m the one who tries to relax Jac. At the same time, she puts me on my toes in this industry, you cannot just chill and be complacent,” the chef shares of their dynamic.

The secret ingredient

Although the two may be pioneers in the local dining scene, the industry has grown leaps and bounds that one may wonder about their secret to longevity.

Both chefs share that they don’t think about competition, choosing to focus on themselves. “There’s enough [room] for everyone in the industry. Instead of competing with this restaurant or this chef, we’re all part of this together. And the more great chefs there are, or great restaurants, the better. If Manila or the Philippines becomes a mecca for food, the better it is for everyone,” Chef Lau shares.

In their roller-coaster career, the couple carry with them a sense of fearlessness and a growth mindset, which only allows them to evolve instead of stagnating.

“The most important life lesson I learned in this industry is you have to be unafraid of being criticized. Not afraid to fail. Anything can happen in the kitchen. There’s a big human factor involved because you’re not just doing this by yourself; you rely on other people. You have to be fearless because you’re bound to fail. You’re bound to be criticized because you cannot please everyone,” Chef Lau reflects.

Years of hard work and experience, yet the Laudicos are not daunted, with food being a true lifelong affair. “We don’t see ourselves slowing down or retiring anytime soon. We want to keep doing this as long as we can and have a blast doing it.”

To read the full article, grab a copy of Modern Parenting’s special Mother’s Day and Father’s Day 2024 Print Edition—available on Download the e-magazine from Readly or Press Reader for more exclusive features and stories.


Art Director MARC YELLOW assisted by DENIELLE CARAG

Photography ED SIMON of KLIQ, INC.

Shoot Coordination ANTHONY MENDOZA


Shot on Location at HENRY HOTEL MANILA

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