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Malou and Raul Fores: A mother-son bonding that becomes warmer in the kitchen
Malou Fores beams: “I am so proud and fortunate to share the same passion as my son Raul.”

Malou and Raul Fores: A mother-son bonding that becomes warmer in the kitchen

ALL IN MY HEAD - Monique Toda (The Philippine Star) - May 16, 2021 - 12:00am

Taste runs in the fam­ily. What I mean by taste here is the ability to discern quality pertaining to one’s palate. Mother-and-son res­taurateurs Malou and Raul Fores share a shared pas­sion for cooking and food. They give diners wonderful culinary creations that are tasty and utterly delicious.

Malou got into cooking because “the love for eating was key. Back when I was a young homemaker, I enjoyed baking and cooking for my family and friends.”

This started her first venture, The Blue Kitchen, with business partner Micheline Suarez, 27 years ago in the Shangri-La Mall. In my opinion, The Blue Kitchen was ahead of its time then, selling artisanal food products made with love and care.

Malou continues, “My mother, who is Kapampangan, did not really cook but was a great influence. I believe I ac­quired her palate for food. She always had special sauces when eating different dishes to enhance or complement the flavor of each. Two of her sisters, my Tita Erling and Tita Auring, were very good at cooking. I still remember fondly some of their dishes that I enjoyed as a child.”

Malou and Raul have been spending quality time at the beach, where they enjoy cooking and, of course, eating together.

Malou is a meat eater and got this from the Montano side of the family. She would visit her paternal grandfa­ther during summers in St. Louis, Missouri, where they would cook the biggest steaks. Back in the Philippines, she would frequent Baguio and love going to the mar­ket, where she buys her supplies for coffee and assorted vegetables. She has been a suki for years so her suppliers have become friends. As to some of her idol chefs, she mentions Juan Carlos de Terry and Tonyboy Escalante.

On her beginnings as a restaurateur: “Our friends, during those early years, would encourage me to open a restaurant. However, I did not want to start one while my only child was still in elementary school. When Raul was in middle school, I realized that he somewhat wanted his independence from his mom while there. So I decided to be less active at school volunteer work. I then had more ‘me time.’”

Malou was encouraged to take a short culinary course at ISCHAM to further her knowledge of the business. “A year later, I decided to take the plunge. I was 40 years old and the grind began. It was stressful and physically exhausting! But slowly, this blossomed into a lot of les­sons and new beginnings, new friends and new experi­ences. I would not exchange these times for anything. I am grateful for what it has become and for each person that helped and continue to do so in building the Mamou experience that it is today.”

As many know, Malou is behind the popular Mamou restaurants, namely: Mamou A Home Kitchen in Seren­dra; Mamou Too at Rockwell; Mamou 3.0 at Ayala the 30th, and Mamou Prime in Podium. There are many regulars who go back again and again to these establish­ments, savoring her well-loved, tried-and-true dishes, or enjoying her new creations.

As Malou says, “Mamou’s dishes are a compilation of favorites that we have recreated at home and served to our family and friends. Our menu continues to grow through the years since we opened in 2005.”

Mamou’s important “numbers guy” is Malou’s hus­band, Jorgé Araneta Fores. Called “Oye” by friends and family, he handles all the finances and marketing for the restaurants.

Mamou has adapted to the new normal in restaurants and provides outdoor dining and food delivery via “Ma­mou Experience To Go.” New creations are always in the works and Malou is working with son Raul on a new healthy menu. Speaking of Raul, Malou beams: “I am so proud and fortunate to share the same passion as my son Raul. I completely admire and continue to witness how his creative mind and palate works, how he com­municates with people both in the kitchen and outside. We are similar yet different and I wish him the best for his exciting yet challenging future.”

They would create pizzas, grill seafood and even prepare lechon.

Food made nice

On the other hand, Raul has been making a name for himself in the food scene. Currently he is part of a team that runs Made Nice located in the corner of the Joya North building at Rockwell.

“The type of food we serve in Made Nice has changed since we first started. Right now, we are working with Mamou serving a combination of our menus. Mostly, these are Mamou items with a few of our Made Nice dishes that travel well since most of our business has been for takeout or delivery. My business partner Jack Flores and I are working on putting together a new menu that really holds up to what we initially wanted to put on the menu. Albeit an evolution of what we liked two years ago, this menu will be a little French, a little Ital­ian, and a little Filipino. We don’t like to hold ourselves down to any of these countries’ cuisines. So expect to see an item or two on the menu that doesn’t quite line up, geographically speaking. We do our best to serve food that comes from what is good now, and how we think it can be ‘made nice.’”

As a reaction to the lockdown, Made Nice changed their menu to dishes that were takeout or delivery friendly. They are also launching a line of ready-to-cook food that will include pasta, pasta sauces, and different kinds of ulam. The packaging will include a QR code that takes customers straight to a short video demonstrating the dish preparation, with written instructions as well. It is a product that best suits the limitations of dining out in 2021.

Sometimes still called “Raulito” by his titas and titos, Raul describes how he got into the food business. “I first went to school to study creative writing in Canada. I soon realized I was really just writing for myself, so I did a bit of soul searching while in school. Over the next six months I found myself watching every episode of No Reservations. I then found myself cooking more often and decided to pursue culinary school. However, I really got into food because of my parents. My mom always kept me in the kitchen while she cooked. It probably also helped that both my parents love food.”

Raul, whose godmother and aunt, by the way, is Asia’s Best Female Chef Margarita Fores, would travel with his mom to New York and California. There they would love to go and try restaurants. Malou, though, calls Raul more of an “East Coast boy” while she would visit family in San Diego.

In Raul’s view, it was definitely his mom’s influence that got him into the food business when his parents opened Mamou. He saw how his mom ran the kitchen and developed the concept, while his dad Oye took care of the business side. Raul was more attracted to the cu­linary and creative part of the restaurant.

When he was younger, he remembers watching The Food Network with his mom, particularly shows by Ming Tsai, Wolfgang Puck, Bobby Flay, Alton Brown, and Martin Yan. He reminisces about how Malou would write down recipes and as soon as the show was over, they would go to the kitchen and quickly recreate the recipe before the next cooking show began.

Recently Malou and Raul have been spending qual­ity time at the beach, where they enjoy cooking and, of course, eating together. They would create pizzas, grill seafood and even prepare lechon. They shared with us wonderful photos of their easygoing cooking style dur­ing summer vacation. Their shared love for cooking anytime and anywhere is an amazing bond between mother and son.

Malou’s no-carb, no-rice yang chow fried rice

Ingredients:

3 tbsps. vegetable oil

3 tbsps. minced garlic

3 tbsps. chopped onions

2 tbsps. chopped green spring onions

2 tbsps. chopped cilantro

4 tbsps. chopped carrots

2 pcs. Chinese sausage, sliced thinly (or as desired)

150 grams shelled and sliced suahe shrimps

200 grams minced and cooked cauli­flower or two 200g packs of Shiratake rice, drained and cooked 1 egg, beaten

1/4 cup to 1/2 cup light soy sauce

1 tbsps. Shaoxing wine or Chinese cook­ing wine Salt and white pepper to taste

Procedure:

1. Heat vegetable oil and sauté garlic, on­ions, carrots for approximately five minutes on medium-low flame.

2. Add Chinese chorizo until translucent then add shrimps.

3. When shrimps turn orange in color, add the cauli rice or Shiratake rice, then the soy sauce, Chinese cooking wine, salt and white pepper. Afterwards, pour the beaten eggs, stir fry (like how we do in sinangag) to mix in the egg for 8 to 10 minutes. Sprinkle the chopped spring onion greens and cilantro on top.

Raul’s fried rice with leftover beef pares from Josh Boutwood’s test kitchen

Step 1: Take your leftover protein and cook on low-medium heat to bring out the flavor. Optional: add oil if the protein lacks fat to render.

Step 2: Add any veggies you might like. I prefer any type of onion or garlic, and when appropriate, carrots or tomatoes.

Step 3: Once the veggies and protein have been sauteed and glazed in its own juices, take one to two eggs and beat as if you were making scrambled eggs. Clear at least half the pan and crank up the heat to as hot as it will go. When you see steam coming off the empty space on the pan, drop your scrambled eggs and let it sizzle! Move the pan to allow the eggs to spread and cook into a pancake. Season as needed.

Step 4: Last but not least is the rice (prefer­ably day-old rice). Check the bottom of the egg. Once it is brown from the scalding-hot pan, throw the day-old rice in all that stir-fried goodness and get to mixing!

Step 5: If you’re looking for some tutong in your rice as I do, don’t stir too often and let some of the rice toast on the bottom of the pan. Feel free to bring your heat down so your rice does not burn. It will take a bit longer but rice will burn fairly quickly if you do not keep it moving.

Step 6: Kain na!

RAUL FORES
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