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In her element |

Food and Leisure

In her element


Stephanie Zubiri is one of the most kindhearted people I know. As a chef, she doesn’t hesitate to share her recipes, tips and honest recommendations. As a friend, she more than wholeheartedly opens up her home. It is not infrequent for Steph to invite me over for dinner.

“What do you feel like?” she would always thoughtfully offer, “I’ll make for you!”

If I was on a diet, she would make a healthy fillet of sole with grilled vegetables and quinoa on the side. If I had a really long day at work and needed to indulge, it was albondigas and some Toblerone mousse for dessert. On nights we feel like sitting in the den watching Ugly Betty reruns, it would be a simple arugula salad, a cheese platter, and some cold cuts.

I tend to tweet photos of dishes I enjoy, and in return, receive a lot of curious tweets back. Whenever I would tweet about Steph’s food, I would always get, “That looks delicious! Where can we try Stephanie Zubiri’s cooking?” While her dishes were only previously available at events or parties catered by her company Modern Epicurean Kitchen (MEK), the young chef who trained at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris has now opened the doors of a private home to the public — an intimate group at a time. She calls this Atelier 317. 

“Atelier 317 is a place where people can come together and enjoy good food and good company,” Steph explains. Parties of two, four, six, up to a maximum of 14, are welcome. Quite unlike the highly public nature of a restaurant, Steph opts not to disclose the location — only that it’s a private home in the heart of Makati. Interested parties must phone or text Atelier 317 for reservations, and only after which the address will be made available.

“It is an escape from the hectic city where one can relish the pleasure of detail. The secrecy is part of the fun!”

Private Home, Comfort Food

Walking into Atelier 317 is like entering a cozy living/ dining room, with the owner-chef personally welcoming her guests. “After two years of full-on catering, I realized I love to give personal attention to clients,” Steph says. “I was so caught up in logistics (up to 800 pax once!), I missed the small things. I love entertaining at home, making things special and this is just that. Technically, it’s table d’hote in French.”

The atelier is Steph’s former commissary, which she dressed up with furniture and pieces she sourced from the Bangkal flea market.

“Everything here is second-hand,” she proudly declares, pointing to the pièce de résistance, an Edwardian-inspired hand-painted long table down to the martini glasses on display. The shabby-chic feel of the place makes for a let-your-hair-down, relaxing environment. The place is also designed with signature scented candles, snakeskin coasters and placemats — all of which are for sale.

The menu at Atelier 317 is just as hearty. It features a mix of Mediterranean and Filipino favorites, including bestsellers from her MEK menu: truffle mushroom lasagna (P300/ serving; P550/ sharing portion for two to three) and balsamic beef adobo (P3,500/ good for six). The adobo, in particular, has to be ordered 48 hours in advance.

“We don’t skimp on quality so we order the beef on demand, using only US Black Angus Choice beef short rib,” Steph explains. “We then make it with love, cooking slowly for five hours minimum.”

Other items on the menu include: flamed Camembert and raspberry jelly tartine (P250), gourmet cheese pimiento tartine (P200), falafel pita burger (P200), and Spaghettini Bottarga (P300). All “unpretentious, yummy food,” as Steph herself describes — simple food that hits the spot.

Gourmet Dinners And Collaborations

But for those looking for something fancy, Atelier 317 also offers a themed dinner once a month. For January, Steph and her team are planning a Gourmet Junk Food Menu with Craft Beer Pairing (P2,500). This includes: Luxe Mac and Four Cheese with seared foie gras and raspberry vinegar glaze; Angus burger with truffle fries; and dark chocolate Toblerone mousse. On another night, they will be having a Déclinaison de Canard (P2,500), which is duck cooked several ways with Filipino influences. The menu reads: Foie gras shiitake molo soup; seared foie gras with tamarind and Sichuan pepper figs; crispy duck with balsamic adobo reduction, orange and ginger; and a dessert trio. The special menus can be ordered in advance, or guests can phone the atelier to specially create one for their table.

Atelier 317 also carries Alexandra Rocha’s Pinkerton Ice Cream, with a special flavor, White Chocolate Black Truffle, created especially for the atelier. It also carries Patti Grandidge’s Sweet Patti Cakes cupcakes, with a special Nutella cupcake with truffled cream cheese frosting available exclusively here. A special Malongo coffee-inspired cocktail, the Malongo-tini, is also served — shaken, not stirred.

Even with the secret location, and having been on soft opening only a few weeks ago, most days and nights are full, so that reservations have become mandatory. So much so that the woman who already wears several culinary hats, from chef to caterer to entrepreneur to journalist, has had to add another to her list. “When we’re busy, I’m the waitress!” Steph declares, her hands stacked with plates as she makes her way to the kitchen.

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For reservations and information on Atelier 317’s secret location, phone (0917) 830-8393, 384-7064, e-mail or visit

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