Replacing Chef Chico is Netflix’s latest buzzworthy Filipino title. It’s a cute little show about a female chef finding her footing in the male-dominated culinary world, but at the same time, it sheds light on a lot of other little troubles people face in their daily lives. Replacing Chef Chico is 8 episodes, 30 minutes each, with a lot of entertaining sub-plots that help push the main character’s story ahead. Chef Ella is the sous chef at the fine dining restaurant “Hain.” Her journey with Hain has been a long and tedious one because the head chef, Chico, likes to operate in a toxic environment, cussing all through the day and leaving his kitchen staff anxious. Ella is blinded to his toxicity because Chico has been making advances at her (nah, girl, it’s just attention). In the meantime, it seems the toxic environment isn’t doing the restaurant any good, adding flame to the fire and making Chico more anxious.
What Happens To Chico?
Chico is in a hot mess as his restaurant is being inspected by a man sent by his mother. Hain is his baby, but the restaurant is owned by his parents. Arrogant Chico shoves the man out when he’s trying to inspect the kitchen and just be a consultant for improvement. Raymond, the consultant, only wants what’s best for the restaurant, but Chico is blind to it. All he can see is his parents trying to sabotage his plans (been there, done that). Even after being relentless in the workspace, hounding Ella in front of all of his staff, Chico expects her to be by his side at the end of the night. They have 6 months to figure out what they can do to save the restaurant. After unloading on Ella, on the way back home, Chico promises to break up with his girlfriend because he wants to be with her (girl, red flag alert). After dropping Ella off, Chico texts her, “I love you,” while driving. While reading her reply, he gets into an accident (don’t text and drive kids) and goes into a coma. Ella is obviously unaware and says, “I love you,” back to the guy after telling him to break up.
Why Was Ella not immediately chosen as head chef?
Ella is a wonderful sous chef, and she has the capability to be a great leader as well. The big problem there is that the predominantly masculine staff doesn’t care to listen to her. At the same time, there’s also Chef Carlon, who is much more experienced than Ella and wants to be the interim head chef until Chico returns. As if the restaurant isn’t struggling enough, Raymond is also inspecting the kitchen now that Chico isn’t throwing him out, and he gets to decide who the head chef will be. It’s time for a Carlon-Ella face-off, and under pressure, Carlon fails while Ella emerges victorious with a cool mind and well-thought-out actions, even if they seem unreasonable to Raymond at first. He’s meant to be reporting everything happening at the restaurant to VLG (Chico’s mother), and at first, he’s skeptical about Ella, but she proves that she is a great leader. Ella doesn’t quite like Raymond getting all up in her space, but he claims he’s on her side and just trying to help. Slowly, they start to work as a team, and Ella is ultimately chosen as the head chef. She’s also very much made her place in Raymond’s heart by then (speedy).
What Pushes Ella To Be Great For Hain?
Ella tries to visit Chico every night initially, but since she’s not family and he’s in a coma, she isn’t allowed. One night, she does get to go in, but to her surprise, Chico’s girlfriend is now his fiancée, which means he had no intentions of breaking up with her. Feeling awful about herself, Ella decides to put all her effort into saving Hain, because she realizes then that she does actually care for the restaurant. She decides to make changes in the restaurant that will make it feel more like “Ella’s Hain” rather than “Chico’s Hain.” Still, at every step, she gets hit with more obstacles. The power goes out, the chefs don’t listen to her, and ingredients are missing, but she still manages to keep her cool and win over everybody because of how well she treats the customers.
Why Do They Change The Menu?
At Hain, there hasn’t been progress in a long time, and there are never new customers. It’s only the loyal customers that keep the restaurant running. Raymond wants to change that by getting Hain on Asia’s best restaurants list, and in order to do that, there must be a new menu. Creating customized meals based on customers’ stories is great, but also very expensive. Again, to start with, Carlon is furious with the idea of changing the menu. Additionally, the interns also think it’s disrespectful to Chico, even if it means saving his restaurant (ugh). Finally, when Ella provides a personalized dish for a customer because she’s having a terrible time, everyone realizes that her main focus is the restaurant and the people they serve (again), so they all gather together to help her with the new menu. Just when things are settling down for Ella, Chico shows up again, bringing an avalanche of negativity with him.
Who Is The Better Head Chef?
With Chico being gone just for a month, there have been massive changes in the restaurant. The revenue has also gone up, and everyone is much happier. But, with his return, everyone is back to being terrorized and making mistakes. Simultaneously, it’s time for Asia’s Best Critic to show up at the restaurant, and it’s up to Chico or Ella to impress them. There’s a woman who visits the restaurant two days in a row, and at the same time, there’s an influencer couple celebrating their third anniversary. Their big request is for Ella to create three versions of their favorite dish for three consecutive nights. Seeing what they’re eating, the woman, too orders the same thing. It’s quite clear that she is the critic from Asia’s Best, but Chico thinks it’s a white male customer instead, who doesn’t quite like the food he received. Obviously, he blames Ella for everything (disgusting), not taking any responsibility for his own actions. But Ella continues to deliver fantastic food to the woman, making her extremely happy. To add insult to injury, Ella and Raymond get together, and Chico can’t stand the sight of them together.
Chico wants to go back to how things were before Ella’s reign, but there’s one last request: the party of a gay wedding at the restaurant. At the last moment, the venue where the celebration was supposed to take place was canceled, and Ella agreed to have the ceremony in the restaurant despite Chico’s protests. She is certain that Hain is a safe haven, and she will do anything to prove it—even go against Chico. Additionally, she promises this is the last time because the request was made when she was head chef. Ultimately, the ceremony made everyone realize how important it was for the grooms and just how much they could help them in a country where they couldn’t be legally married. The cherry on top is that Hain makes it to Asia’s Best list as an honorary mention but with Ella’s name smack in the middle of the headline.
Chico is furious and spews some nonsense at Ella, proving how misogynistic and unworthy he really is. Even with everyone siding with Ella, she can’t bear the disrespect (good on you, girl) and decides to quit right then. Ella’s already proved that she’s the best head chef in all ways possible.
Why Is Chico The Way He Is?
Short answer: “daddy issues.” Of course, Chico hasn’t always been a terrible person. He’s got his pros (not many outside of his good looks, might I add), but it’s because of the pressure he feels within his family to do better and to make everyone proud that he thinks he’s meant to handle everything by himself. He shoves Ella away when she’s trying to help, and Raymond, too, thinking he’s an enemy, a spy sent by his parents to make sure he fails. We learn in episode 8 of Replacing Chef Chico that he doesn’t have the best relationship with his father, and his mother finally comforts him instead of pushing him to work harder.
Does Ella Choose Hain Or Singapore?
In the middle of all this melancholy, there is one good thing happening for Ella. Raymond has offered her the position of head chef at a restaurant that he will manage in Singapore. It’s a great opportunity for both of them, and he just assumes Ella will be happy there, too. Having lost everything, Ella does think it’s a good time to spread her wings and be with the person she likes too, but in her heart, she’s also thinking only about Hain. Chico finally shows up at her doorstep to apologize. He wants a second chance, but not for himself or for Hain. He tells Ella to go back to Hain and save it from disaster, taking over and making it her restaurant. Ella returns for one night, just to say her final goodbye before going away with Raymond for their new project. Ella delivers a dish that has a missing ingredient, and the customer is able to tell. The same customer later tells Ella that she should not hold herself back and do what’s best for her. Seize the moment, if you will.
Ella’s heart is split between Raymond and Hain, but everyone knows that she is meant to be the head chef at Hain. Raymond, too, realizes he is forcing his own ideas on Ella, so he tells her that the decision is up to her. At the end of the show, Replacing Chef Chico, with all her bags packed, Ella decides not to go to Singapore and returns to Hain as the new head chef. She transformed the restaurant to give customers the new “Ella Hain experience,” a female-run fine dining restaurant in Manila. In the end, we come full circle as Ella makes the same dish she was making in the first episode. She makes the same dish throughout the show to improve the restaurant, but in the end, she makes it perfect in her own style, serving it as the opening dish of the new Hain.