The Pres­tige

Chef Chele Gon­za­lez re­turns with more amaz­ing culi­nary magic in his new Gallery.

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

An ex­cerpt from the novel by Christo­pher Priest that was trans­formed into Christo­pher Nolan’s epic film: “Ev­ery great magic trick con­sists of three parts. The first part is called “The Pledge”. The ma­gi­cian shows you some­thing or­di­nary: a deck of cards, for ex­am­ple. He shows you this ob­ject. Per­haps he asks you to in­spect it to see if it is in­deed real, un­al­tered, nor­mal. But of course... it prob­a­bly isn’t. The se­cond act is called “The Turn”. The ma­gi­cian takes the or­di­nary some­thing and makes it do some­thing ex­traor­di­nary. Now you’re look­ing for the se­cret... but you won’t find it, be­cause of course you’re not re­ally look­ing. You don’t re­ally want to know. You want to be fooled. But you wouldn’t clap yet. Be­cause mak­ing some­thing dis­ap­pear isn’t enough; you have to bring it back. That’s why ev­ery magic trick has a third act, the hard­est part, the part we call “The Pres­tige”.”

Chef Chele Gon­za­lez’s Gallery is home to authen­tic culi­nary wiz­ardry, the likes of which have never been seen or ex­pe­ri­enced in the coun­try. It’s where sim­ple, ev­ery­day Filipino in­gre­di­ents are meta­mor­phosed into glam­ourous, amus­ing bouches and bites.

Our hum­ble pan de sal, for ex­am­ple, rein­ter­preted as a mac­aron that has the un­mis­tak­able look of our daily bread; but in­stead of liver spread, the halves of the pas­try sand­wich a sa­vory sweet adobo cream. Or a pur­ple soft taco made from ube, the fla­vors sub­tle but de­fined, topped with heav­enly ten­der pulpo. And a dra­mat­i­cally dark puto, in­fused with pig’s blood, a con­joined din­uguan ap­pe­tizer topped with salmon roe. It’s Filipino. But some­how, it more than Filipino. Call it “The Pledge”.

The first in­car­na­tion of this Gallery was Vask. In 2013, it broke the mold, and changed ex­pec­ta­tions of what a lo­cal restau­rant could be. The po­ten­tial

for be­witch­ment of Filipino in­gre­di­ents, un­leashed, by a chef who had worked at Arzak and El Bulli, two the most glob­ally in­flu­en­tial restau­rants ever. Vask was years ahead of its time: in its ser­vice, its in­te­ri­ors, its ex­per­i­men­ta­tion, and its menu. It was in­tim­i­dat­ing to many, and per­haps, most were not ready. Five years later, the restau­rant’s rein­vented it­self. It’s no less for­ward think­ing, but this time0, 3 Fine Din­ing is now also Fun Din­ing. That’s “The Turn”.

Which leads to “The Pres­tige”. The Gallery, newly re­opened, is in­deed, the house that con­jures up stun­ning world class dishes that would be per­fectly at home in Net­flix’s ground­break­ing “Chef ’s Ta­ble” se­ries. Clas­sic Euro­pean cook­ing tech­niques, en­demic Filipino in­gre­di­ents, and si, por supuesto, a dis­tinct and proud Span­ish ap­proach. It is, sim­ply put, one of the best, and yes, most pres­ti­gious restau­rants in the Philip­pines, and surely, now, more en­chant­ing and bet­ter than ever, one of the best in the world.

PHO­TOS BY GABBY CANTERO

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05 Gallery by Chele is lo­cated at 5th Floor, CLIPP Cen­ter, 11th Av­enue cor­ner 39th Street, Boni­fa­cio Global City. 0917 546 1673.

06 1 Black Bli­nis: salmon roe-sour cream-blood rice cake2 Cap: wagyu ten­der­loin-laing sauce3 Ube Taco: oc­to­pus adobo­mush­room emul­sion4 Din­ing Area5 Tiger’s Milk: oys­ter-ce­vichecashew6 Chef Carlo Vil­laflor and Chef Chele Gon­za­lez

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