Food and Leisure

Kevin Tan says hail to the chefs

Julie Cabatit-Alegre - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - It was a night for young chefs to shine.

At the Grand Ballroom of Eastwood Richmonde Hotel, the Food Artistry campaign of Megaworld Lifestyle Malls was launched. It’s the first of its kind.

“First and foremost, we want to give credit to each of the various chefs,” said Megaworld first vice president and commercial division head Kevin L. Tan. “We have a new breed of chefs now that are coming to Eastwood who have opened various concepts, both new and old. When we select restaurants for our malls, we ask the chefs what is their inspiration for their restaurant. They always have interesting explanations. It’s almost as if they are describing works of art. And so we thought that the stories have to be told.

People have to know these stories. We just want to be the avenue where they can tell the world their stories behind each and every dish.”

Chef Robby Goco has two restaurants at Eastwood: Cyma, which specializes in Greek cuisine, and Green Pastures, which features sustainable and organic cooking. For the degustation that night, he prepared the entrée, Kale and Mushroom Paella — Ifugao heirloom Tinawon red rice, fried oyster mushrooms, quail egg, saffron aioli and paprika oil.

“I’m an advocate of using locally sourced ingredients,” Goco said. He gets his mushrooms from Tagaytay and Quezon, while his kale is from Bukidnon. He says kale has become very popular since it’s considered a superfood.

“It also gives texture to whatever you’re cooking. It does not turn soggy. It holds up, unlike your quintessential romaine or iceberg lettuce,” he explains. “It’s also nice to have something bitter, which you pair with something that’s super-rich, like eggs or cheese or mushroom.

“When I opened Cyma ten years ago, nobody knew what Greek food was,” Goco continued, “but if you come out with great food, even if people don’t understand, they can connect with it. Before I opened Green Pastures, healthy food was always boring, like eating cardboard paper. But something healthy, something organic can taste good. It’s really a matter of understanding the ingredients and how it can contribute to the taste. You should also have integrity in what you do. Do not cheat by using artificial flavorings. You have to understand the ingredients and how you can bring the flavor out by using natural stuff.”

Chef Patrick Obia is the executive chef of Eastwood Richmonde Hotel. He prepared a Trio of Antipasti for the degustation.

“Antipasti is basically Italian, but I did my own Pinoy version,” he explains. First is the fried adobo calamari, baby squid fried in adobo and served with squid ink negra aioli sauce. Bruschetta is Italian, but for my version, I used mini pandesal halves topped with ground Vigan longganisa and kesong puti,” Obia shared.

For the chicken sisig inasal, he used regular chicken inasal, grilled for the smoked flavor, then diced. Separately he had crispy skin that  he “mixed in on the spot, to keep that crispy crunch. My forte is Asian cooking, which I tweak to show my personality.”

The first dish served was Risotto Balls by chef James Torres of Potts Point Café,  one of the new restaurants at Eastwood that features healthy organic dishes. The three-piece fried mushroom risotto balls was presented with a creamy tomato puree as well as a pesto puree, edible flowers and leaves. The plating did not only look good, it tasted really good as well.

This was followed by the Volcano Roll of chefs Hideaki Tohyama and Ben Gon of Sandaime. The deep-fried spam maki was topped with cream cheese, capsicum-topped ebiko, spring onions, and a special sauce.

The second entrée was the Brisket Sisig Taco by chef Chiloy Santos of Kettle. The dish is a fusion of flavors combining sautéed beef brisket chunks, pickled slaw, cilantro and pepper coulis.

Chef Avi Shani, together with gelato chef Adrian Saydoven and pastry chef Christian Cabral of Bar Dolci, launched their newest artisanal gelato, Tequila Rose Gelato, at the degustation. This was paired with a passion-fruit macaroon drizzled with melted chocolate, an interesting combination.

Since chef Avi, who is Israeli, arrived in the Philippines 18 months ago, Bar Dolci has also started to serve mostly Italian and Mediterranean dishes. The company is a supplier of gelato ingredients imported from Italy to hotels and other gelato outlets. “What makes good gelato is the quality of the ingredients,” chef Avi shares. “We use only fresh milk, nothing powdered, in our gelato.”

The closer for the night was three kinds of cheesecake: sugar-free queso de bola, triple chocolate made with Malagos dark chocolate, and lemon cheesecake by chef Gregory Guy of Cheesecakes by Guy, served with its signature Tsokolate de Batirol. 

It was his lemon cheesecake, which is his bestseller, that started him off on his food business, says the young Ateneo de Manila management economics graduate, who went on to study at Le Cordon Bleu and interned at the two-Michelin-star L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon in Paris, then in New York under Jean-Georges. But his best credential is, of course, his cheesecakes,  all 25 flavors of them. “I have at least six of nine flavors at a time at the store,” Guy shares. “I also sell food — omelets, paninis, eggs benedict, pasta and salads — as well as loose-leaf teas, artisanal coffee and chocolate de batirol. It’s really a food experience that revolves around cheesecakes.”

Kevin Tan says the overall vision is to inspire new talents, and “maybe give them a break, because the food artistry starts with creating unique dishes that are found only in Eastwood, in the various restaurants that have opened here. I guess the second phase is to now  encourage new talents, new chefs who are starting out, to come to Eastwood and try things out. We will be organizing various fairs and exhibits where we can showcase food artistry from the new chefs.  We want to develop the next breed of chefs and restaurateurs.”

Teresa Pesigan Valentino, Megaworld senior AVP and head of marketing and business development, said, “In line with its goal of inspiring aspiring chefs and foodies to follow their passion for good food, Eastwood City is giving them the chance to showcase their own food artistry in its #Eastwood30Days Foodstagram promo. From Aug. 1 to 30, Instagram users can post their most creative photos based on the particular day’s challenge with the hashtag #Eastwood30Days and #EastwoodFoodArtistry.

Contestants must follow and tag Eastwood Mall’s Instragram [email protected] for a chance to win exciting prizes.”

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For information, call Megaworld Lifestyle Malls Concierge at 709-9888, 709-0888 or 0917-838-0111. Photos by JULIE CABATIT-ALEGRE












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