2018 StarChefs D.C.-Chesapeake Rising Star Chef Tom Cunanan of Bad Saint

2018 StarChefs D.C.-Chesapeake Rising Star Chef Tom Cunanan of Bad Saint
November 2018

Bad Saint
3226 11th St NW
Washington, D.C. 20010


Tom Cunanan was born in the Philippines as the sixth of seven children. He moved to the United States when he was 3 and did most of his growing-up in Prince George’s County, Maryland. He joined the Boys & Girls Club in high school and got a job as a busboy and dishwasher in a fine-dining establishment. Upon graduation, he attended the culinary program at the Art Institute of Washington in Arlington, Virginia, for a few semesters before deciding he would learn more effectively through first-hand experience.

Cunanan’s first jobs led him through a variety of cuisines, including French gastronomy at La Chaumerie and upscale Southern at Vidalia. While working as executive sous chef at New American bistro Ardeo+Bardeo, Cunanan’s mother fell ill. In her final months, he worked with her to carefully document all of her original recipes from the Philippines. In 2015, Cunanan launched Tarsier Catering, a small Filipino catering company that quickly morphed in Bad Saint, a 24-seat restaurant in Washington D.C. Bad Saint has garnered many awards and critical notices, including being named the “No. 2 Best New Restaurant” in the United States in 2016 by Bon App├ętit, and earning a three-star review from Pete Wells in The New York Times. Cunanan was nominated for a James Beard Award for “Best Chef, Mid-Atlantic” in 2017 and 2018.

Cunanan travels to the The Philippines for research as often as he can, adding authentic techniques and ingredients to his progressive Filipino-American repertoire.