The culinary hotbed called Salcedo Park
EAT’S EASY - Ernest Reynoso Gala () - June 16, 2011 - 12:00am

Tucked away in the beautiful Makati neighborhood of plush condominiums and upscale eateries is Salcedo Park, and on weekends it transforms into a culinary hotbed. A vibe resonates as a great variety of cuisines and stellar cast of culinary talents come together. As the market opens, pleasurable days of wining and dining begin. Given the trend towards healthier lifestyles and conscious dining, a wide selection of organic produce is sold, empowering diners with the option for delicious bites without the heaviness usual in hearty cuisines. Quite a gourmet experience, culinary enthusiasts and chefs congregate to enjoy the festivities, and fortunately I had the privilege to launch the weekend market road show by the San Miguel Great Food Club by conducting a cooking demonstration. The assortment of attendees consisted of journalists, retirees, children, and professionals — a testament that food brings one and all together. 

Living and working in the food world, I had plenty to share — from various cooking tips to knowledge about ingredients, insights that I learned and observed from my travel experiences in other countries.

An example is choosing eggs in the market. An eggshell that is rough in texture means it’s fresher compared to a shell that is smooth like glass. Also, when pan-frying pork chop, don’t allow the meat to curl. Once the ends of the meat begin to rise, invert and cook the other side. Repeat the process and remove the meat before it begins to curl, which ensures that the meat will be succulent and tender. For those who have meat thermometers, the perfect temperature is 170 to 175 degrees Fahrenheit.

The audience clearly showed their enthusiasm and asked insightful questions like “What is the meaning of teriyaki?” or “What is mirin and if there is any substitute?” Teriyaki is a Japanese term for any fish, meat or poultry marinated in soy sauce and traditionally grilled over charcoal to form a glaze but can now be served on top of a prepared dish. As for mirin, it is Japanese for sweet rice wine or sake often found in bottles with orange caps. It was fulfilling to see the crowd engaged, and just like the culinary classes in our school, I could see them scribble notes while watching the process unfold while I was cooking. Excited chatter flowed, and as each dish was put together, one boy excitedly went up on stage to smell the chicken nuggets teriyaki, a sure sign of a true gourmet and future chef.

As a chef instructor, I enjoy my time in the kitchen, exploring culinary creativity by bringing out the best in each dish. This comes from having a good foundation, using the best produce available like San Miguel’s Monterey meats, Magnolia Chicken and Dairy products and incorporating ingredients to discover the right balance. Most important is formulating recipes by making the difficult procedure easy so that everyone can make and do it in their own kitchen. That’s essential and a craft that takes years to master. As my mentor in Moulin de Mougins in Cannes, France, two-star Michelin chef Alain Llorca, stated, “Why make it complicated if nobody can create and appreciate it? What matters are the quality, texture, and taste. Add passion and you will have a memorable cuisine that people will love and adore.”

Magnolia chicken nuggets teriyaki


1 250g Magnolia Chicken Nuggets, fry until golden, set aside

For the teriyaki sauce:

1/4 cup Star margarine

1 tsp. crushed garlic

1/4 cup each of soy sauce (Kikkoman) and sugar

1 tbsp. rice wine (mirin or any)

1 cup water mixed with

1 tbsp. AA Cassava (tapioca) starch

1 tbsp. sesame oil

1/4 tsp. pepper

For garnish:

1/4 cup chopped spring onions

2 tbsps. sesame seeds


Prepare four bowls with 1/2 cup (each) cooked rice.

For the sauce, add Star margarine and garlic in a saucepan. When garlic is brown, add remaining ingredients and stir until boiling and shiny.

To serve: Put cooked chicken nuggets on top of rice. Top with teriyaki sauce, spring onions, and sesame seeds.

Note: 250g fish cakes or squid balls may also be used.

Purefoods luncheon meat-Magnolia quickmelt hawaiian sushi


1 sheet nori (Japanese black seaweed) cut into 8 pieces lengthwise

Water to seal nori

4 cups cooked Calrose (Japanese rice)

1 185g Magnolia Quickmelt Cheese sliced into 8 pieces


A) Wash 1-1/2 cups rice 3 times, soak with enough water to cover at least 1 hour. Drain. Put in rice cooker with 1 1/2 cups of water, and cook for 25 minutes. When done, sprinkle 1 tablespoon each of Japanese vinegar, sugar, and mirin (Japanese sweet sake in orange bottle). Mix well. When ready to use, scoop out 1/2 cup rice with plastic measuring cup and form into 8 pieces, the same size as luncheon meat (use cling wrap for easier handling).

Keep cling wrap until ready to use. Slice 1 can Purefoods Luncheon Meat into 8 thin slices lengthwise.

B) On a chopping board, arrange nori. Put a slice of luncheon meat, top with Quickmelt cheese, rice on 1/3 side nearest your body. Roll tightly. Seal opening with water. Serve on romaine lettuce-lined black plate.


Special thanks to San Miguel Great Food Club’s culinary directress Maricel Manalo for inviting me to host and teach at this very successful event. Congratulations to chef John Chua for sharing his wonderful recipe, free-range Chicken Tim, and assisting in this event.

Discovery of the Week

Chef Billy King got it right. One of Manila’s most talked-about chefs, he has done his fair share of tinkering in the kitchen with extraordinary dishes, soul-satisfying meals that we’re all so happy to shout about. His oven-baked escargot shiitake mushroom tart looks deceptively plain but don’t be fooled; it’s a delectable combination of savory and tangy flavors. The assorted seafood gratin illustrates his deft hand and fertile imagination, with spinach, mushroom, and cheese oozing prominently over the moist flesh of salmon, scallop, and shrimp. The tender and juicy lamb cutlets with rosemary sauce will caress your palate, a gastronomic indulgence that must be experienced.

Dessert is never just dessert as the chocolate soufflé is a scrumptious trinity of sugar, butter, and chocolate. Combined with luscious cream, it’s way too tempting to resist.

With generous portions and plenty of variety to woo you into returning, Alpha is a sumptuous treat that is well worth it.  

Alpha is on the sixth floor of Alphaland Building, EDSA corner Pasong Tamo extension, Makati City.

For more recipes and schedules, visit or the Facebook fan page gala culinary or Twitter or call 671-4489 or 98.

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