A Fellowship Dinner
Dr. Nestor Alonzo II (The Freeman) - January 4, 2019 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines — Twenty six years ago, a group of Cebuanos sharing a common interest in good cuisine, good wine and good company joined the Confrerie de la Chaine des Rotissuers, the largest gastronomic society in the world. The society is comprised of members who have acquired global culinary experiences, and recognizes that the collective talents of chefs with the service brigadeinspire the pleasure of the table.

Every year an anniversary is celebrated and on December 6last year it was held at the Mactan Ballroom of the Shangri-La’s Mactan Resort & Spa with the theme “Red Christmas.”Michel Lhuillier, baillidélégué for the Philippines and Shangri-La’s Mactangeneral manager Rene Eglegave the welcome addressand inspirational speech to the 143 members and gueststo the fellowship dinner.

The first of a six-course dinner was Foie Gras Ganache, Fragrant Hibiscus Jelly, Pickled Mustard Seeds, Starfish Brioche Crunch and Candied Poached Pear Pearls, paired with the Robert Mondavi Private Selection Sauvignon Blanc 2016. It has been a long time since I had last eaten gumamela or hibiscus (used as wrap for minced shrimp) and this time it was used as a jelly to tone down the rich flavors of the liver. The dish was not only delicious,the plating was very attractive with the red jelly looking like a Christmas wreath.

Confit of Garoupa, Artisan Gnocchi, Ratatouille and Herb Oil, Lemon Foam was the third course.Confit is food cooked slowly over a long period at temperatures of 90 centigrade or lower. Gnocchi are small, thick soft dumplings usually eaten to replace pasta or side dish to the main dish. This is one dish for the culinary history books as among the best tasting fish dishes of the Chaine dinners in the last 26 years, and I have been a member, excuse me, for over 23 years.

The Sorbet (Cranberry) was then served, followed by the main entrée, Braised Turkey Roulade, Smoked Turkey Cutlet stuffed with Turkey Hash, Honey Glazed Carrot, Fondant Potato, Red Cabbage Puree, Peach and Sage Gravy paired with the Robert Mondavi Private Selection Cabernet Sauvignon 2016. Beef or lamb is often served as the main dish and this is the first time we had a turkey roulade and the dish had several layers of delicious flavors.

Dessert was served:Festive Magic – Christmas Pudding Flower with Brandy-Vanilla Custard Sauce. The service of the dessert was like the soup, solid elements on the bowl followed by pouring of the hot Brandy-Vanilla Custard Sauce stock. And like magic, the chocolate flowers unfurled their petals to the delight and applause of the members and guests.

Closing the lovely dinner was the presentation of Certificates of Appreciation to banquet manager Neldon Rivera, assistant director of events FaraLiboro, director of Food &Beverage Jonathan Bailes, Executive Chef Rene Roshen Fernando and Shangri-La’s Mactan GM Rene Egle.

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