Philippine Daily Inquirer
Visiting chefs make themselves at home in PH
THE HOTEL scene has been vibrant with visiting chefs the past few weeks and we hope this delicious trend will continue.
France meets Korea at the City of Dreams
Chef William Mahi of the Tasting Room collaborated with Korean Chef Jung Sik Yim at the City of Dreams during Madrid Fusion Manila. With alternating dishes, the chefs exhibited their prowess in modern gastronomy, reflecting their respective backgrounds.
We are already quite familiar with Mahi, having been making headlines with his exquisite meals since the opening of Crown Towers at the City of Dreams. For this dinner, he took it a step further—each dish more elaborate than usual.
Mahi set aside his usual starter of oysters with oyster leaf, for instance, for a dish portraying the global trend of starting dinner off with something that looks like a plant.
Maybe he was inspired by the Essence of the Forest of the very first Asia’s 50 Best Chef Yoshihiro Narisawa, which has essence of oak as a tree stump, a green powder of spinach and matcha for moss and yogurt beneath a dark powder as soil.
Or perhaps he was motivated by current Asia’s 50 Best Chef Gaggan Anand’s Magic Mushrooms piece of forest mushrooms in the shape of a log placed on top of edible soil. Or how about Thailand’s master chef Ian Kittichai’s pomelo salad served literally in a plant claypot?
Whatever inspired Mahi’s dish, it was definitely current—with green and white asparagus and delicious bluefin tuna with marinated sesame seeds resting on “soil” made of black olives and aged Iberico ham hanging on “branches” like leaves. It was really pretty.
Korean chef Jungsik responded with his own art piece presenting Kimbugak, traditionally a Korean sweet cookie made of glutinous rice and seaweed but the inventive 30something made this into a cone and stuffed it with a kind of beef tartare.
Jungsik later also warmed guests’ hearts with his seafood dish of uni with kimchi on quinoa. Unlike Korean cooking that usually has strong flavors, Jungsik’s had bite while maintaining controlled flavors. Even at his young age, he is a master of balance.
Bali high at Shangri-La Makati
Meanwhile, Bali-based Canadian chef Kevin Cherkas reconnected with his Shangri-La roots, having previously helmed Blu in ShangriLa Singapore and Restaurant Lafite in Shangri-La Kuala Lumpur, by doing three drool-worthy evenings at Sage Bar in Makati Shangri-La.
His charming wife Virginia gamely introduced each dish to guests, proudly presenting her husband’s imaginative creations such as a risotto without rice. This is a dish they also serve at Cuca, Cherkas’ restaurant in Bali, Indonesia, which uses squid grains, vegetable stew, garlic cream, and popped rice. This dish is “literally all about fresh meaty squid cleverly hand-cut and delicately poached in vegetables we lovingly cooked for hours.”
Guests were left thrilled with his “sunny side up” dessert—a meringue that looked like an egg. Before moving downstairs to listen
to sultry singer Angela Vera, now a regular at the Sage Bar for their jazz nights, guests tripped on what looked like egg whites that were actually whipped coconut and egg yolks that were in fact mango. Sweet!
Silk Road at Marco Polo
Marco Polo in Ortigas made its own noise in the form of an opera, collaborating with the Philippine Opera House for a gala with a menu that traced back the route of Venetian merchant traveler Marco Polo. The gala dinner by their executive chef Luis Pesarrodona included dishes inspired from Italy to the Middle East to China. The event ended with a bang with a fashion show presenting Renee Salud couture.
A revelation at that event, though, was finding out that Mirko de Giorgi, formerly restaurant manager of Tivoli at the Mandarin, is now director of restaurants, bars and events at Marco Polo. If you have an event, you know you’ll be in good hands.
Youth with a future
At Enderun Colleges, training ground for future chefs and hoteliers—not really a hotel although it feels like it—French chef Marc Chapolin showed off his Alain Ducasse skills at a benefit dinner for the third batch of Youth With A Future scholars. Youth With A Future is a program of Enderun Colleges wherein they give streetchildren from the Tuloy Foundation the first rate training of Ducasse Institute and help get them employed after receiving their program certificates. The first two batches of scholars are now successfully employed, some even working in hotels and restaurants abroad. Best on the menu was dessert—still the expertise of the French. Chapolin made a delightful chocolate savarin, a yeasty cake but made glorious with chocolate bits on top that tasted like bitesize pieces of their signature Louis XV chocolate cake. Soaked with rum syrup, it was spikefully (with a K!) heavenly. *** Ten years ago, we thought the food industry was already booming. But I don’t think we saw the tsunami of food events that has taken us by storm today. Everywhere you look, it’s food after glorious food. Remember to count your blessings and not your calories!