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Man Ho has arrived!

(From left) Marriott Hotel Manila executive chef Meik Brammer, director of F&B Brendan Mahoney, GM Bruce Winton, Travellers International Hotel Group president Kingson Sian and COO Steve Reilly with Marriott Hotel Manila executive Chinese chef Law Wing Wui lead the ribbon-cutting ceremony to officially open Man Ho Chinese restaurant.

Marriott Hotel Manila  recently opened Man Ho, a 140-seater Chinese restaurant that highlights authentic Cantonese dishes skillfully crafted by a team of Chinese chefs headed by veteran executive Chinese chef Law Wing Wui. Man Ho means “Marriott” in Cantonese.

Travellers International Hotel Group president Kingson Sian and COO Steve Reilly led the ribbon-cutting ceremony to officially launch the new restaurant. Event host Tim Yap invited the two executives to join the countdown to 12:38 p.m., the auspicious time to officially open the restaurant’s doors.

Chef Law initiated the traditional incense ceremony to the God of Heaven and Earth and the momentous chopping of the suckling pig to bring in prosperity and good fortune for the restaurant.   Dragon and Lion dancers took part in the celebration to also attract good luck and wealth. Media, celebrities, industry influencers, VVIP guests and other notable personalities from the Chinese community partook of the exquisite dishes.

The 10-course meal started with e-fu noodles with crab and egg sauce, which was followed by roast suckling pig, smoked fish in marinated black fungus with vegetable salad and sesame dressing, steamed shrimp dumpling with spinach and steamed Japanese scallop dumpling with truffle and braised seafood soup with caviar and conpoy (dried scallops).

Guests also enjoyed the fried boneless pink garoupa with mango sauce, US beef tenderloin with black bean sauce, Hong Kong-style roast goose and poached asparagus with dried shrimp and garlic in fish soup.

The jasmine-flavored chocolate cake with soya chocolate gelato and coconut crisp capped the wonderful meal.

(For more information or reservations, call 988-9999. Visit www.manilamarriott.com.)

A moment to feast

Initially meant to be the R&D kitchen at The Moment Group’s (TMG’s) headquarters in Makati, the Test Kitchen became a space that could moonlight as a private dining hall for its owners Abba Napa, Eliza Antonino and Jon Syjuco. The Test Kitchen’s ambitions blossomed into something bigger — it became an intimate place where friends and family could come together and celebrate.

Recently, the Test Kitchen played host to a string of chefs, whether from TMG’s own restaurants or not, so they could let their inventiveness roam and flourish.

The first on the roster was a pop-up dinner series with the Trophée Espoir of Ile de France 2015 winner chef Aaron Isip. The set up featured the acclaimed chef’s playfulness with local bounty. The seats at the pop-up’s original four-night-only run sold out so quickly that The Moment Group had to open up another night.

The eight-course dinner featured Isip’s French techniques using local produce, grounded in Filipino roots.  Highlights of the evening included local scallops aguachile with uni, quail egg yolk, chorizo powder, giant halaan and bamboo clams with green mango and kamias sauce vierge, and purple yam or ube curry with calamari a la plancha, potato croutons, chicharon and butterfly pea flowers.

The pop-up dinners with Aaron Isip were five nights of exciting cuisine in a casual sleek space and attentive service by TMG team, who were mostly from TMG’s burger joint brand, 8cuts. The service staff and cooks involved in this endeavor were helmed by some amazing young people in TMG led by R&D chef Monica Yang and operations development manager Mike Luna. The aesthetic for the dining tables were mostly  attributed to the private stoneware collections of Tina Fernandez of Aphro and Garden Barn’s exquisite stemware and porcelain pieces.

The Test Kitchen is now The Moment Group’s playground and home base, where creative culinary happenings, whether big or small, definitely abound.

Entrepreneurship champions

It was a heartwarming afternoon as messages of hope, tenacity and inspiration clearly resonated when Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), the Microfinance Council of the Philippines and Citi Philippines presented the winners of the 14th Citi Microentrepreneurship Awards (CMA).

Funded by the Citi Foundation, this annual event showcases the best of the Filipino entrepreneurial poor, rising out of poverty with capital as small as P1,000 and facing tough challenges only with hardwork and sheer determination.

Accepting the top honors was Honie Krizia Navor of Iloilo City, a wholesaler and retailer of granite and tiles, stones and marble slates. Navor, 27, is the youngest national winner in the CMA history.

Other awardees included regional awardee for Luzon Richel Vargas, producer and distributor of garments for bicycle and motorcycle riders; regional awardee for Visayas Angelita Dagoc, owner of Ferangeli Guitar Handcrafter; regional awardee for Mindanao Marcelina Occeña, producer and retailer of Soup Wonder Herbal Oil; and Youth Microentrepreneur of the Year Kevin Pacatang, producer and distributor of native chocolate tablea and coffee. Pacatang, 23, is the youngest recipient of any award from CMA and the inaugural winner of the newly introduced category.

Meanwhile, recipients of the special awards were Manuel Iwayan, who collects and recycles rubber tires, (Green/sustainable business); Renato Mercado, organic farmer and organic fertilizer wholesaler (Agri micro-business); and Wilberto Dagame, Willmar Homemade Candies producer and retailer (community leadership).

Citi Philippines CEO Aftab Ahmed remarked, “It is our hope that the success stories of the winners will inspire other aspiring entrepreneurs to pursue their dreams with conviction. It is not only the finalists, but all 144 nominees we received this year that can serve as entrepreneurship champions and role models. All of them can help others who dream of improving the livelihood of their families and becoming important community contributors. Collectively, we need to promote microentrepreneurship as this will help in further increasing the ranks of small businesses that are the backbone of the economy.”

For his part, BSP Governor Amando Tetangco Jr. said, “Our CMA awardees for this year are among the most diverse set of winners, coming from a range of industries. They indicate how financial inclusion and microfinance unlock opportunities and serve as catalysts for development.”

Also on hand to give out the cash and non-cash prizes worth close to P2 million were several distinguished members of the national selection committee Ayala Corp. president Fernando Zobel de Ayala, Philippine Airlines director Antonino Alindogan Jr., Inquirer chair Marixi Prieto and University of the Philippines Diliman chancellor Dr. Michael Tan.

(Follow me on Instagram @pepperteehankee.)

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