The life of a chef is as difficult as you think—it takes tireless hours, never-ending stress, and maybe even a bit of your soul. We are by no means relationship experts, but we can only imagine that dating a chef could have more challenges than you’d expect. For this short series on Pepper, we’ve interviewed 3 couples in the industry, and asked them the tough and fun questions about their relationship and just exactly how they get things done.
Today, we have pastry chef Miko Aspiras, who seems to be everywhere: he’s behind Scout’s Honor, Magnum Cafe’s sweet creations, and now, Le Petit Soufflé, a French and Japanese inspired concept that has all the trademarks of his creativity. His partner, JV San Juan, has an equally challenging career as a flight attendant, which made us wonder how the newly-engaged couple juggles their time together with their industrious work lives.
How long have you been together and how did you meet?
JV: It’s been 8 years since last April. We met at EDSA Shangri-La, where he was having his practicum, and it was my second orientation, because I had to defer. I was asking my friend if we had to go to the orientation or if we could skip it because we already had it. But, we decided to go to the orientation to at least get to know the people we would be working with. Miko: So we were having orientation on the first day. Syempre, I can’t help myself na may chinecheck ako. I came out during my college years. Medyo late na pero, that was the time I accepted myself. Back then, I was the ultimate party boy. I was called “The Gob”, because I was always in this club called Government every Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Then it was practicum time, and I was checking people out by saying “yan oh, cute yan (referring to JV).” Tapos sabi ng friend ko, kasi medyo maldita yung friend ko, “sige, let’s ask him.” Sabi ng friend ko (to JV), “Hi, what’s your name? We’re from Benilde.” Sabi ni JV, “we’re not yet complete with our requirements, can we just text you?” Then I said, “Yeah, can I have your number?” I’m not used to the gay men that are simple. Kala ko all gay men were into parties. I compared him to the people I met while going out, and he was so different. I texted him, “Hey, what are you doing during Holy Week?”, and he replied, “I’m just staying home with my family.” I never heard of that before! So even when I would go out to party, I was still so interested in him even if I’d already met so much people. After that, we started dating when the practicum started. We went out to watch movies, but there was no formality; things just progressed naturally. One time, we were just texting and then I asked him, “Tayo na ba?”
So, who proposed?
JV: I did. M: I didn’t expect the proposal. We knew it was going to happen eventually, like we planned the reception to be in two years at Antonio’s, but we didn’t talk about the proposal. It happened on our anniversary last month. We went to Tagaytay, our ultimate favorite getaway, and after that, I kept pushing to have dinner at Le Petit Soufflé so I could check up on the kitchen. JV: I kept pushing to go to Shangri-La. It was so traffic, super warm, and the parking was full. So stressful. I knew there was a convention at madaming tao sa baba, nahihiya ako. But I still needed it [the proposal] to happen. M: So, we went to the function room where we had our practicum. I said, “ang ganda, ganito pa rin.” Bigla na lang siya naging serious. Sabi niya, “you know why I wanted to go here…kasi special”. Sabi ko, “yeah kasi dito tayo nag-meet.” There were so many people kasi medical convention pero it felt like in the movies, where humihina yung boses ng mga tao. Then he said, “Because I want this to be special, I want you to marry me.” JV: Syempre I didn’t kneel down kasi ang daming tao. M: Kilig talaga yung feeling. Tapos umiyak na ako at nag-hug kami tapos nagpapicture kami sa nanood. Akala ko ako gagawa pero alam niya na siya. Kung ako kasi, dadala ako ng band at flashmob, pero siya very original. Very personal. Then we went to high tea.
Was this your most unforgettable shared memory?
JV: Of course, but for me, it was also when we were in Sydney, when I took him around. We went to Manly Beach. We bought food and had a picnic by the shore. We saw a gay couple, and it was so normal there. Unlike here, kami lang. It was so special because it was so normal. It was the point where we realized, it’s the future that I want. That was the point where we knew this was one place we could have that normalcy, because people there are more accepting.
You have very time consuming jobs, as flight attendant and a chef, how do you deal with your hectic schedules?
JV: Actually it’s a lot easier now than when he was working in the hotel, because now we can control our time. M: When he’s not here, I pile up all my work, so that when he’s here, I have minimal work. JV: We’re used to the hectic schedule. M: When I was in the hotel, I would compete. Pero now, now mas alam ko yung pupunta kasi before in the hotel di mo pa sure, pero kasi we’re so used to it because we live together.
Does Miko always cook for you at home?
M: Before in the first few years, I would always cook. JV: Then when he got busy, I started to cook. But now, we always eat out. M: We always eat around the Katipunan area. I used to always bring home 50 pieces of Magnum kasi tatapon na. I really only cook now, pag-birthday niya, para special with courses and a table set-up.
Really? How sweet! What’s the best dish he’s ever made for you?
JV: For me, cheesecake, because I know how to make it, too. The reason why I love it is because he started the recipe in college and it’s super perfect now. Nag-evolve na siya. When he didn’t have time, ako na yung gumagawa.
What are the pros and cons of being with a pastry chef?
JV: You get to be the first to try everything. You can say to foodies, “yeah I tried that na!” [laughs] Con, for a chef, pagnagugutom. That’s the reason why we fight, pagnagugutom, kasi he’s grumpy.
What are the pros and cons of being with a flight attendant?
M: Pros, supplies and kwento niya of his travels, so we know where to go na nakapunta na siya. For supplies, I asked him to bring home all the Birthday Oreos and Watermelon Oreos nung wala pa dito. I also ask him to buy me books. Siguro yung cons, before marami kasi selos, nakatravel, and he gets to do things with people for the first time. Kunyare, “Paano pag nag-Paris na kayo?!” Pero petty na yun ngayon. Nagdradrama kasi ako, nagmoomood swings parang bata na di ka kilala. Before, di namin ma-figure out bakit ka nagiging weird? Tapos, na-realize naming tuwing umaalis siya ng matagal, pagbalik niya weird ako. Nangingilala parang bata. Now we make fun of that. Now that we know how to handle things, we get closer and closer. When he leaves, sobrang nakaka-sad kasi pag may problem hindi ma-update, kahit Viber hindi ko ma-feel. JV: When I’m away it’s time for me to catch up on sleep and rest. For him, it’s time to catch up on work and shopping. Kasi pag wala ako, diyan siya nag-shoshopping. Pagbalik ko, sinasabi niya, “May kasalanan ako.” Tapos ako naman, “Ano na naman binili mo?” M: Nakaka-stress siyang kasama mag-shopping. Pinaparamdam niya na matagal ako. JV: He gets jealous that I get to go places that he hasn’t been. I’ve been to his Lolo’s house. M: All my family migrated to either California, or some stayed in La Union. He met my dad here, and then he told him that he was flying, so na-meet na niya Lola ko. 21 years na siya doon, and si JV may picture doon sa house. Meron sila sa tapat ng house parang family photo, pero ako, wala!