FLAME

“Pas­sion and Plea­sure six­teen storeys above Makati’s Cen­trail Busi­ness District”

Let’s Eat - - NEWS - WORDS BY SPANKY HIZON ENRIQUEZ

Chef Luis Chiki­amco is one of the best chefs in the coun­try. “Luis who?” you’re prob­a­bly ask­ing your­self. In this era of celebrity chefs and foodie fan­dom, many chefs – thanks to tele­vi­sion ap­pear­ances and en­dorse­ments— have be­come house­hold names. And they de­serve to be well­known, be­cause they are ta­lented, and work hard at their craft. Dis­cov­ery Primea’s Ex­ec­u­tive Chef fits that mold: he’s soft spo­ken but elo­quent, he projects well on cam­era, and he’s truly gifted.

But Luis, or Louie as he’s known among his peers, would rather spend his time in the kitchen, rather than in the spot­light. I re­spect his de­ter­mi­na­tion and de­ci­sion to let his food speak for it­self. I pre­fer that much more than the myr­iad pre­tenders who spend their time cre­at­ing ob­nox­ious YouTube videos, pur­port­edly cook­ing Filipino food. One in par­tic­u­lar, with a sig­nif­i­cant so­cial me­dia fol­low­ing, mas­sacres our lo­cal fa­vorites and offhand­edly ex­cuses his trav­es­ties with an­noy­ing ac­cents and “cute” an­tics. Videos like his are an in­sult to all le­git Filipino kitchen pro­fes­sion­als all over the globe, and a slap in the face in our in­dus­try’s ef­forts to el­e­vate our cui­sine as we in­tro­duce it to the world. I am trig­gered by th­ese ex­e­crable “cook­ing videos” that in­sult my in­tel­li­gence, and des­e­crate my palate. It’s a good thing in­deed that there are many more bona fide chefs like Louie who don’t waste their time pimp­ing on so­cial me­dia, but in­stead, con­cen­trate their ef­forts on el­e­vat­ing Filipino food .

His new menu at Dis­cov­ery Primea’s Flame is mas­ter­ful. I was al­ready a fan of his dishes, as are many of my fa­vorite food crit­ics, but his new menu ups the game to­wards truly world class lev­els. Flame has, since it opened three years ago, been a fa­vorite for ro­man­tic din­ners. It’s high up over Makati, and in the evenings, out­side the restau­rant’s pris­tine pic­ture windows, the city’s sky­line twin­kles, the lights in the high rises seem­ing to wink know­ingly at the cou­ples fall­ing in love with their food, and with each other. The sig­na­ture spe­cial from the first menu was the “Lob­ster Fried Rice”: imag­ine the best Yang Chow ever, made with the high­est qual­ity rice, fluffy and sticky, with gen­er­ous amounts of plump, fresh, and juicy lob­ster chunks. The whole pro­duc­tion, can­nily plated as if spilling out of a Chi­nese take-out box. Don’t worry. It’s still there on the menu, which has now taken on a more dis­tinct Filipino char­ac­ter with the ad­di­tion of the new spe­cials.

The cro­que­tas, on the sur­face, seem tra­di­tional. But then you no­tice the play­ful streak of uni atop each piece, and the béchamel and then the dashi as you bite into one. Each fla­vor, ev­ery tex­ture, com­pli­ment­ing the other. Then there’s a dish in­flu­enced by the ir­re­sistible sweet-smoky essence of Pi­noy Bar­be­cue. Chef Louie uses won­der­ful cuts of Ibe­rian pork, the fat mar­bled with the meat, and grills them in a Josper oven. The re­sult is a dish that can only be de­scribed as ten­der love, deeply tasty bar­be­cue that will re­mind you of those sheets of red Chi­nese tapa that you tore into as a child. Don’t miss the Wagyu Clay­pot Rice, it’s in­spired by the Ka­mameshi rice from Louie’s fa­vorite fam­ily restau­rant. The taste is spot on retro, but the premium Wagyu makes the dish all grown up. For dessert, my fa­vorite is sim­ply called a “Yema Cake” but it brought back the sweet­est mem­o­ries of the fruiti­est Crema de Fruta ever. It’s all food that’s quite fa­mil­iar from our child­hood, but in Flame, our fa­vorites are now “adult­ing”.

Louie Chiki­amco worked with and was trained by two highly re­spected chefs: Cyrille Soe­nen and David Pardo de Ayala. He learned his lessons well. He’s now cre­at­ing food that is not only wor­thy of his men­tors’ praise, but ours as well. Louie’s com­ing up with food that you will cer­tainly fall for, and keep com­ing back to, again and again.

Flame Restau­rant/Edge Bar is lo­cated at 16/F 6749 Ayala Av­enue, Makati. 955.8888.

PHO­TOS BY GABBY CANTERO

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02 1 Yema Cake2 Chef Luis Chiki­amco

03 3 Se­creto Pi­noy BBQ

04 4 Uni Cro­que­tas5 Josper-Grilled Chicken Wings6 Flame In­te­ri­ors7 Duck Con­gee

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