Erwan Heussaff can no longer do anything wrong. If...when he does, people are quick to pounce on his mistake with one vindictive word: taho.
That's the problem with the internet: information speeds through so fast that scandals come and go, but no one will ever truly forget anything again. Scratch that. No one will ever let you forget anything again.
In January 2016, content creator Erwan Heussaff starred in a video for the Tastemade channel. He made a streetside favorite, which he called "Taho Breakfast Drink." Unfortunately someone messed up and the tapioca pearls were suspiciously and very obviously raw. With Heussaff headlining the video, he bore the brunt of the comments.
"I don't care about tofu or tapioca. He's too handsome to focus on anything else."
"anak ng tokwa to."
"raw and big tapioca balls.. and the tofu is kinda thick and cold.. when we drink taho from the vendor, i think the tofu is silky then layered with the caramel.. not a whole block in the caramel water. i still love u erwan :)"
And these are the nicer ones worth repeating.
Any feature that carried his name, whether its his wedding or his work, and you would automatically find one comment that would veer people's attention back to this "blasphemy."
"It was my first time flying to L.A. and shooting with Tastemade...I had previously sent the recipes to the food stylist to make sure that everything was prepped properly."
It's been over two years and despite other people's need to bring it up every now and then, Erwan is a good sport about it. "I feel people keep bringing this up because nowadays it's normal to make fun of people online. Sites will also pick this up because ridicule generates views," he tells Esquire. "Honestly, I don't really mind it, the internet is the internet."
His immediate apology after what he now describes the "taho scandal" was, for the most part, ignored, but maybe because everyone is wondering how on earth he could've let slip the fact that the tapioca balls to quote Gordon Ramsay are "f*cking raw!" Apparently there is an explanation.
"It was my first time flying to L.A. and shooting with Tastemade. Taho was going to be the last video of the day and I had previously sent the recipes to the food stylist to make sure that everything was prepped properly," he recalls. "When it came time to shooting it, we had an hour left and no options for overtime. I asked where the cooked and soaked sago balls where and the silken tofu and they brought out what you can see in the video."
"I knew it wasn't the proper ingredients. I just didn't want to disappoint them and was too embarrassed to tell them that we couldnt shoot, so i just had to make it happen," he continues. "I regret that now, I would have had more confidence today."
His embarrassment about correcting the stylist, however, didn't prepare him for the criticism. "Some of the comments are actually really harsh and the bandwagoning behind it, or the judgment that has ensued is really quite surprising. People can be so hateful online nowadays, I feel like the things said, would never be voiced out in front of me, but behind a keyboard, it's fair game."
Erwan is actually planning to publish another taho recipe video next week to redeem himself. He'll be making everything himself, including the silken tofu which he'll prepare from scratch.
On Buhay Carinderia
While he's learned to let detractors go, he is admittedly sad about how a two-year-old video can distract people from his current projects. For example, the taho video recently resurfaced after the announcement that Erwan was tasked to be content creator of the upcoming government-backed Buhay Carinderia event.
"It's so sad that the reason I'm doing these videos for Buhay Carinderia is to showcase the Philippines and carinderia owners cooking the traditional food they love (I won't be cooking anything), but a lot of netizens are focusing on a recipe I made two years ago instead," he explains.
For Buhay Carinderia, Erwan will be documenting various carinderias around the country. The videos will feature him trying out different carinderia food, talking to the owners, and essentially showcasing the variety of this style of eating available in the Philippines. "I've been province-hopping quite a bit over the last few years and there are some traditional dishes in carinderias that are quite mind-blowing and that we don't ever see in Metro Manila."
He already has a plan to release four videos, with the first explaining the historial importance of carinderias in the country. The term came from the Indian word for curry and the concept was adopted from Indians who settled in Rizal. The second and third videos will feature carinderias in Metro Manila while the fourth will showcase eats in Vigan.
His contribution is part of the nine-month-long scheme for Buhay Carinderia where provinces will be scouted for the best eateries. The specially selected set will gather at the Vigan Convention Center on June 28 to 29 where they'll interact with each other as well as with aspiring food entrepreneurs. The two-day exposition will also serve as a venue to find Philippine Tourism Millennial Ambassadors (Erwan is quick to clarify that he is neither an ambassador for Buhay Carinderia nor is he the Food Ambassador for the Philippines). The process will be repeated in other regions until the cumulative expo in November.