secret ingredient viu sangheon lee julia barretto

Stars Sangheon Lee and Julia Barretto Tell Us What’s Cooking In Upcoming Series ‘Secret Ingredient’

Love embraces all flavors.

Hear all about Viu’s upcoming food-centered romantic dramedy Secret Ingredient from stars Sangheon Lee and Julia Barretto!

Related: Everything We Know About Sang Heon Lee And Julia Barretto’s ‘Secret Project’ (And Everything We’d Love For It To Be)

The Philippines, South Korea, and Indonesia are coming together to create a delicious blend of culture, love, and cuisine in new Viu series Secret Ingredient! The rom-com drama stars Julia Barretto, Korean actor Sangheon Lee (XO, Kitty, Grand Turismo), and Indonesian actor Nicholas Saputra.

secret ingredient viu sangheon lee julia barretto

Secret Ingredient, produced by Viu in partnership with Unilever Nutrition Southeast Asia and directed by South Korean director Cho Young-kwang, is a regional K-drama about food, love, and culture. As food, from sourcing to preparation, is intrinsically rooted in a people’s culture, it’s an interesting central concept to any story. Just look at media like Chef (2014) and Replacing Chef Chico (2023)!

Julia, Sangheon, and Nicholas will embark on a journey of finding love, reaching ambitions, and discovering culinary excellence. NYLON Manila got a chance to chat with lead cast members Julia and Sangheon about their experience preparing for the show and exploring Filipino cuisine together. Watch out for their upcoming video interview on YouTube soon!


secret ingredient viu sangheon lee julia barretto

Centered around Hajoon (Sangheon Lee), a Korean socialite, the story follows his quest to reconnect with his lost love Maya (Julia Barretto). Their journey, set against the backdrop of Jakarta and the Philippines, involves a cultural intertwining of food, place, and culture. Nicholas Saputra joins as the head chef that brings another level of flavor to the story.

“Be excited for the food,” Julia teases in an interview with NYLON Manila. Everything about the teasers, promo, and even the snapped photos of Julia and Sangheon filming, gave us a glimpse into the culinary world of Secret Ingredient.

secret ingredient viu sangheon lee julia barretto

“We really got ourselves dirty in the kitchen,” Julia remarks. Sangheon actually learned how to cook himself while he was at university, learning from YouTube videos. But both actors shared that they underwent more professional and rigorous culinary training for weeks to prepare for their roles, getting a taste of what it’s like to work in a professional kitchen setting. Sangheon recounts how difficult it was to work in a kitchen, and that it would be an even more hellish experience if you didn’t love what you were doing.

secret ingredient viu sangheon lee julia barretto

“But he went into the kitchen and we were like, ‘maybe don’t be that good,'” his co-star interjects. Sangheon has truly immersed himself in Filipino culture and cuisine, trying out everything from restaurants to street food, leading Julia to joke, “He’s more Filipino than me now!” The actor delves into trying one of the more intimidating street foods, balut, from a cooler right on the street. And, to him, it really wasn’t that big of a deal.

Sangheon is admittedly very adventurous in more ways than one, always game to try new things. Julia, unfortunately, was allergic to a lot of the food on the show—particularly seafood. But she, Sangheon, and Nicholas were able to make and try a whole bunch of different dishes, and get acquainted with kitchens and restaurants in a way they never had before.


secret ingredient viu sangheon lee julia barretto

Julia and Sangheon seem to have built a rapport, bonding over their similarities and differences not just when it comes to food. When asked what food they would use to describe each other, Sangheon compared Julia to a green mango, an unexpected yet very Pinoy food that he’s only tried here.

“I want to choose a dish [found] in every country,” Julia thoughtfully says about her co-star. She eventually chooses pasta, a dish that can be found prepared in a variety of different ways in every nation. “It feels like you were molded by different cultures and influences.” That statement pretty much encapsulates what the entire series is about—a story of diversity, collaboration, and cultural and human connections. The entire cast and crew of the series, though hailing from different countries, worked tirelessly on a story of love and food, and it’s about to hit streaming real soon.

A uniquely-flavored drama, a collaboration between three different Asian countries, Secret Ingredient is a showcase of Asian talent and cuisine with a promise to satiate its viewers with a heartwarming, home-cooked meal. Secret Ingredient premieres this April on Viu.

secret ingredient viu sangheon lee julia barretto

Behind the scenes and set photos courtesy of Viu Philippines.

Continue Reading: 2024 Might Just Be The Year Of Unexpected Collaborations 13 Food-Centric Films and Series To Watch If You Liked Replacing Chef Chico