Judy Ann Santos on raising independent, responsible kids with Ryan Agoncillo


Judy Ann Santos

After over three decades in show biz, one would think Judy Ann Santos would be free of any onstage jitters. But the multiawarded actress and film producer admitted still feeling nervous doing live events when she was introduced as the newest endorser of Alaska Milk recently.

Wearing a flattering red jumpsuit and dramatic, matching heels, Santos greeted the audience gathered for the event. “During the pandemic, many of us became introverts, [but I was still able to connect with others] through my cooking vlog.”

Aside from cooking for her family, her culinary background includes a four-month course on basic and advanced cooking skills under chef Gene Gonzalez in 2006. In 2015, she published the book “Judy Ann’s Kitchen” (Anvil) that bagged the Gourmand International’s Cookbook Award for Best Authors and Chefs Outside Europe the following year.

All kinds of dishes

She started her YouTube channel “Judy Ann’s Kitchen” in 2017 that gained more traction during the pandemic lockdowns, when most Filipinos stayed home. Her channel now has 1.73 million subscribers who follow and engage with the well-loved personality. The 15- to 20-minute cooking videos show her preparing everything from nilagang baka and two-way lechon paksiw to easy ramen and overloaded baked lasagna.

“Now that the kids are back at school and attending face-to-face classes, I’m slowly getting used to their schedules.”

The hands-on mom oversees and often prepares the food they bring herself. That morning, she was up at 5 a.m. and busying herself in the kitchen. “I decide what to place in which lunch box, so when they get home, I can ask them if they finished their food. These are moments that you can never return to … as a person, as a mother. By doing this, I’m able to do what I vowed to Ryan [which is to care for our family].”

Real-world skills

She and her husband Ryan Agoncillo are determined to raise their children to be independent and responsible adults. “Aside from teaching our children how to cook at a young age, I taught our daughter Yohan how to commute. She’s already in college and should know how to get home so that wherever she goes, hindi s’ya mangmang. This is how things are in the real world.”

Last year, Santos took a break from making and uploading new videos on her channel because, as she pointed out, food prices had been rising, which meant fewer viewers would be able to buy the ingredients needed to replicate her recipes.

“I grew up in Antipolo and the sari-sari stores sold Alaska Milk, so when I was approached by the brand to be its endorser, I accepted because I grew up with it.”

Embracing bloopers

Now that her schedule isn’t as hectic, she is considering making more cooking videos. “I’m lucky I get to choose to do one project at a time.”

She doesn’t see “Judy Ann’s Kitchen” as work. It’s just her cooking the dishes she likes and hoping her audience will also like it.

“When we did our first episode four, five years ago, I was nervous, but I told Ryan, let’s not edit out the bloopers. Totoong pagkakamali s’ya. Kahit may culinary background ka, magkakamali ka pa rin, mapapaso ka,” she said.

It’s this realness that has continued to make Santos a much-loved celebrity. She embraces all aspects of her life as an actor, film producer wife and mom—bloopers included. INQ

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