Served by the Best!

Lately, I've been reading a lot about how Filipino dishes are making scene in New York and some other parts of America. There's also in the news where local food chain is stealing the fast food scene in Europe. As a Filipino, I couldn't be prouder that these are happening in my time. But come to think of it, these great news boil down to one thing - the Filipino service. And recently, another proud moment for us Filipinos happened when our very own - Ms. Jholan Penafiel - yes, she is a woman - snatched the title TGIFridays 2017 World Bartender Championship, which was held in Dallas, Texas, USA.

TGIFridays Philippines hosted a welcome party to Penafiel last Friday at the newly renovated TGIFridays in SM Mall of Asia. Guests were treated to an wonderful night filled with delicious food, amazing drinks and great company.

I had a chance to meet and get to know Jholan a little that night. A humble young lady who started as a host at TGIFridays Greenbelt in Makati City, Jholan got into bartending out of curiosity.

"From being a host, I was cross-trained by my co-staff as server. Then one day, I accidentally got inside the bar, which is really not allowed, but other bartenders in our branch  thought that I fit in well behind the bar. They are the first one who convinced me that U should try bartending. So, from then on, I started practicing til I made it to the contest," Penafiel shared.

Penafiel has been a bartender at TGIFriday for only less than two years, but her drive pushed her to know every technical stuff about bartending and every single step without showing panic to her guests. During the contest, Penafiel topped the two rounds - Compulsory Round and Freestyle Round - of the 2017 World Bartneding Championship, where she bagged cash prize and valuable TGIFridays propeller (a symbol of the engine that moves the business).

Combined with winning personality and exceptional technical knowledge of the TGIFridays’ bar elements (including memorizing about a hundred drink recipes),  Penafiel showed off her world-class bar flairtending earning her the much-coveted title as TGIFridays Bartending Champion of the world. USA's Michael Ressureccion came as first runner-up, while UK's Russell Ward was named 2nd runner-up. Aside from the cash prize, she also shared with  so much pride to us her “WOW Fridays” pin (which stands for “Walk on Water”), which was given to her by TGIFridays International Chief Operating Officer Ian Saunders. Currently, there are only 27 people around the world who have been privileged to receive the said pin.

At the 2017 “Shake, Rattle, and Pour” Bartending Competition here in the Philippines, which is the first battle Peñafiel has joined, she bested 20 other TGIFridays bartenders from all over the country.  She became more determined to bring home the same title as she moved forward to represent the Philippines at the Asia-Pacific Bartending Championship held in Jakarta, Indonesia in October that same year.

"Before reaching the international stage, I have to compete locally, and Asia-Pacific. There were 8 contenders from Asia in the World Barchamps, and my biggest anxiety came from the fact that all of them were seasoned bartenders while I was only on my first year. It was also my first time to join the regional competition. Though I'm a little nervous, I simply looked at as new sets of challenges. And since I love a good challenge, I gave it a go,” the 25-year-old champ shared.

I was honestly surprised on how she talked to us that night. At a very young age of 25, she has been an inspiration to many. Her winning this prestigious title isn't an accident but rather a destiny waiting to happen.

“Winning is just a consolation; experience is the real prize. I would like to inspire young girls especially, to never be afraid to try, to never give up on their dreams,” she concluded.

Thank you, Jholan, for making us proud and for being a good example to young ladies! Keep it up! I can't wait to see more of your! God bless!

To know more about TGIFridays, check out its social media sites: TGI Fridays Philippines (Facebook) @tgifridaysph (IG and Twitter) and its website,

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