Carlo Tanseco cooks more than just Figaro coffee
KITCHEN SPY - KITCHEN SPY By Heidi Ng () - May 27, 2004 - 12:00am
Figaro, a 10-year-old Filipino company, is fast becoming a globally competitive enterprise. It has a branch in Hong Kong and is planning to open new branches in Dubai, Seoul, and Shanghai. Entrepreneur Magazine has called Figaro one of the 10 most successful entrepreneurial ventures in the country. Recently, it won an Ernst and Young and Sycip, Gores, and Velayo Search for Entrepreneur Award. They won the award for the small-scale business with assets of less than P100 million, while Jollibee won the master entrepreneur award. The search was also supported by the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Bankers Association of the Philippines, so it can be said that it is a plum award in business. For an enterprise to be this successful, it needs a good research and development team, a service-oriented group of people who run it, and a creative genius behind the brand. That creative genius happens to be Carlo Tanseco, a thirtysomething bachelor.

As the creative director of Figaro, Carlo conceptualized the logo design, store layout and interiors, and its packaging. In fact, he tells us that he came up with Figaro’s logo while he was doodling on a napkin at the Garden Café of the Edsa Shangri-La Hotel. He wanted Figaro to look like a European café with a romantic ambience. He used coffee beans as paraphernalia and if you look closely at the lamps at any Figaro branch, the light stands up in a coffee cup. He admits that sometimes when he sees his designs come to life, his hair stands.

As one of the seven directors of the company, Carlo helps out in presenting ideas to the group and is active in decision-making, too. Currently, as head of the design department of the company, he is busy with six upcoming outlets of Figaro, which will be at Santa Rosa, Commonwealth, Greenhills, Salcedo Village, Makati, Magsaysay Center along Roxas Boulevard, Brittany along the South Super Highway, and in Lipa, Batangas.

And if that isn’t enough, he is also an in-demand product design consultant. This architecture graduate is also into consultancy and works with various exporters. He designs furniture and houseware and modestly admits that he has won a few Katha design excellence awards. He is also a member of the popular Movement 8 with Budji Layug, Tony Gonzales, Ann Pamintuan and Kenneth Cobonpue, among others. Currently, he is busy with projects in Indonesia and Thailand.

He remembers fondly coming up with a solo exhibit of houseware showcasing various renewable materials from the Philippines, such as capiz, abaca, bamboo, and other indigenous materials at the Material Connexion Museum in Columbus Circle, New York. His solo exhibit made it to the New York Times with an article on what the exhibit was all about.

Furthermore, his reputation as a designer had him staying in a secluded villa in Majorca, Spain with 15 other designers from all over the world just to do greeting cards. He stayed for a week in Spain just doing what he loves best. He even gets royalty for every card that is sold. What a lucky guy, indeed!

He works hard and plays hard. When he is not busy with work, he trains for triathlons. He also sails from time to time.

And when he visits Figaro’s different branches, that is the time he plays around in the kitchen, creating recipes from available ingredients at the café. Two popular Figaro dishes were named after him, because he accidentally created them during one of those times he was playing around at one of Figaro’s open kitchens. So, the next time you dine at Figaro, you already know the man behind the dishes. Now, that is some insider info!
Sandwich Ala Carlo
2 slices potato bread
1 Tbsp. pizza sauce
1 Tbsp. pesto sauce
4 slices salami
dash of Parmesan cheese
dash of pepperoncino
70 g. eggplant, sliced and grilled in olive oil
40 g. grated mozzarella cheese
2 slices tomatoes
10 g. potato chips

Place the two slices of potato bread in the panini griller. Grill the potato bread until golden brown markings appear. Spread the pesto sauce evenly on one slice of the bread and pizza sauce on the other slice. Arrange the two slices with Parmesan cheese and pepperoncino. Put the grilled eggplant on top of the slice with the pizza sauce. Top the eggplant with grated mozzarella cheese. Put the tomatoes on top. Cover with the other bread. Pull down the panini grill lid and press gently for 30 seconds to melt the cheese. Cut diagonally into half. Transfer into a serving plate and serve with potato chips.
Pasta A La Carlo
1/2 cup olive oil
60 g. minced garlic
dash of ground white pepper
2-1/2 tsps. iodized salt
1-1/2 Tbsps. basil leaves
dash of chili powder
300 g. stewed peeled tomatoes, chopped
1 Tbsp. tomato paste
40 g. black olives, pitted
30 g. whole capers
1 can tuna chunks
1 Tbsp. pesto sauce
3 g. or dash of pepperoncino
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 k. cooked spaghetti noodles
1 tsp. Parmesan cheese
sprig of parsley for garnishing

Heat the frying pan over medium heat. Put olive oil and sauté the garlic. Cook for about 15 seconds, taking care not to brown it Add all the spices: Pepper, salt, basil leaves, and chili powder. Stir constantly, then add the chopped stewed tomatoes and tomato paste. Simmer for three minutes. Add the tuna chunks, black olives, and capers. Stir. Simmer for another five minutes. Remove from heat. Blend in the pesto sauce, pepperoncino, and a dash of sugar. Place the cooked spaghetti noodles into the pan with all the cooked ingredients. Mix until the noodles are all coated. Sprinkle with a dash of Parmesan cheese right before removing the pasta from the pan. Portion and place it in a serving bowl.

Garnish: Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Add a sprig of parsley in the center of the pasta dish. Add a slice of hot garlic bread on the right side of the bowl. Serve immediately. Serves 10.
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