Chef  Morris Danzen: From Humble Beginnings to Being a Master Chef in Italy

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This story of triumph is like a plot and storyline that we see in movies and television that started from nothing to something. Morris Danzen Catanghal’s success in life does not come to him in a silver platter, he worked doubly hard to achieve it.


His struggles in life started when his father became blind while his mother and sister were both working abroad. He needed to find a good paying job to have enough money to feed himself, his father and a younger sibling. His hardship doubled when her mother lost her job abroad so he needed more income to support all of their financial and daily essentials.


There came a time that Morris had to cook “experimental food” from left over ingredients just to have food for his father and brother and to eat three times a day. Morris admitted that there were times also that they will eat only once a day because of lack money to buy food. These hardships forced Morris to try his luck in other countries like singing and playing guitar in Cambodia and China, where he met his future wife Maria, an Italian student.


Their whirlwind love affair brought Morris and Maria back to the Philippines to introduce her to his family and have a civil wedding. After having enough money, the couple went to Maria’s family home in Sicily, Italy to introduce Morris to her parents and have their church wedding.

After wedding and staying in Sicily, Morris started helping in the kitchen of Maria’s family owned restaurant business.
At first, Morris had a hard time adjusting to his job in the kitchen because he’s not used in doing that thing. While helping in the kitchen, Morris started cooking Filipino dishes in his free time and let Maria’s family experience eating the foods he prepared. There are times that Morris will experiment cooking Filipino dish combined with Italian dish and to his surprise, Maria’s family and some of their Italian friends loved it.

Morris’ “gift” in cooking inspired him to join a prestigious cooking competition in Italy titled “Gino Cerca Chef” which was participated by more-less 2-thousand chefs and he was the only Filipino contestant. As an obvious “underdog”, Morris admits that never in his dream and wildest imagination that he will win the contest, dominated by Italian chefs and judged by Italians and French.

And as the competition continue, the number of participants became fewer and fewer until it was narrowed down to just 10. Then the final stage of competition has come with only three of the contestants remained on the stage including Morris. The host carefully and slowly announced that the Grand Champion of the prestigious “Gino Cerca Chef” competition is Morris Danzen Catanghal.


Chef Morris Danzen was the poor boy from Calumpit, Bulacan, Philippines who strived hard, overcame all the struggles and problems he encountered in life to become what he is today. And despite being in Sicily, Italy with his Italian wife and kids, Chef Morris Danzen remained a down to earth and a humble person that remains to be a proud Filipino!