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Michelin-starred chefs Pedro Subijana, Gert de Mangeleer and Julien Royer on their upcoming trip to Manila

MADRID, Spain — “Pedro Subijana is a good friend of my father,” Elena Arzak shared while we were standing next to each other at the Madrid Fusion Manila reception at Tatel Restaurant hosted by the Philippines’ Department of Tourism (DOT), snapping videos of Davao-based beat boxer Neil Llanes’ superb performance.

The world’s best female chef (2012), who runs their eponymous three-Michelin starred restaurant along with her father, Juan Mari, had spoken highly of the chef-owner of the three-Michelin-starred Akelare, also in San Sebastian, Spain, who would be coming to the Philippines this April for Madrid Fusion Manila to present on the theme, “Towards A Sustainable Gastronomic Planet.”

We caught up with Subijana, along with chefs Gert de Mangeleer of the three-Michelin starred Hertog Jan in Belgium, and Julien Royer of two-Michelin-starred Odette in Singapore — all first-time visitors to the Philippines — on what they were looking forward to during their visit, and what we can expect from their presentations.

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Pedro Subijana of Akelare in San Sebastian, Spain (3 Michelin stars)

I have received feedback from chef friends who have been to the Philippines several times and they have said good things. I have some family in Manila — the family of my daughter’s husband — who lives there, and they have told me that it’s very interesting and that I will have time to experience the food and culture. I am interested to go to the market. At Akelare, we receive a lot of guests from the Philippines, and from every 10 guests, only two speak Spanish. I always tell them you shouldn’t stop speaking Spanish or you will lose the Latin language.

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(For my presentation), I will talk about the story of the Spanish gastronomy. I am part of the set who started the revolution of the new Spanish gastronomy. I will talk about the importance of this revolution, and show dishes that are representative of this.

Gert de Mangeleer of Hertog Jan in Bruges, Belgium (3 Michelin stars; 18.5/ 20 rating from Gault & Millau)  

It’s my first time in the Philippines and I’m looking forward. I don’t really know what Filipino food is, but I’m really in love with the Asian style of cooking — it inspires me a lot. I hope to have the possibility to meet the locals and try the food. (For our presentation), we will be cooking with our local products and talk about how our dishes are influenced by our travels all over the world.

Julien Royer of Odette in Singapore (2 Michelin stars)

From getting a taste of the local food such as lechon and adobo, to visiting institutions like Grace Park and Gallery Vask, I am looking forward to running the gamut of Philippine cuisine. Above all else, I would like to get a deeper understanding of the cornerstone that anchors the entire Philippine culinary scene — its incredible produce.

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