The Chaine de Rotisseurs dined on modern cuisine that included lobster on banana leaf, with eggplant jus and charred okra, and a dish called Tear Drop with pan-fried tuna cheeks with Jamon Iberico
The attraction is always food and wine when the Chaine de Rotisseurs meet. After all, it is one of the primary reasons why members of the oldest society in the Philippines for epicurean food and distinguished wine gather. The Manila membership of the international gastronomic organization comes together to pursue the culture of fine dining and the art of good manners at the table. This is in keeping with the worldwide club’s commitment to preserve camaraderie and the pleasure of dining as well as to promote excellence in all areas of hospitality.
When it was announced that Gallery by Chele was the venue for the next dinner, there became an added incentive to sign up for the one-night only seafood degustation.
Rain Forest in a Barn House
Chef Chele Gonzalez helmed the kitchen of Gallery VASK when it made the list of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants in 2017. After a short hiatus for renovations, the food destination reopened mid year of 2018 to the delight of a following who patronized the plated experimentations of haute cuisine, which Chele and his colleague and partner Chef Carlos Villaflor conjured.
Carlo Calma, the architect and partner-owner, reconfigured the interiors of the fifth-floor establishment in the Clipp Center. He removed walls and created bigger spaces, warmed by wood finishing for the ceilings and tables. Nature was the apparent influence with potted herbs and greens adding a sense of the created world. Mood lighting and furniture specially designed by internationally recognized Kenneth Cobonpue enhanced the warm atmosphere.
What used to be the restaurant space has been transformed into an adjoining Studio Lab, where educative collaborations, consultations on food and restaurant solutions are done in a test kitchen. This is where the team of Gallery by Chele explores local food, endemic ingredients and culinary methods as part of their research and development. The open-air terrace is now an urban farm cultivating regional ingredients.
Puto as Blini
The casual evening began with cocktails preceding the six-course menu. Members, wearing their Chaine medallions, and guests sipped the Champagne Lhuillier Brut and tried the guava mojito mixed by Kalel Demetrio, who combined rum, tarragon, guava and a sour mix. They watched the staff in the open kitchen as they prepared the hors d’œurves served on specially designed ceramic pottery. The preface to the meal was a sampling of cross-cultural innovations. Tuna Tartare on black ink cracker alluding to an ukoy, black blinis with tuna roe and sour cream on blood rice cake resembling a mini puto, and a tuna sisig-filled empanadita with green chili emulsion were bite-sizes of Asian and European provenance.
“This dinner takes you on a journey around the 7,107 islands of the Philippines, and the richness of its vast seas, while fostering sustainability and cultivating local ingredients,” Chef Chele said during the brief remarks before the first course was served.
Red Wine with Seafood
Each course was accompanied by a wine selected by professional du vin Jay Labrador, who selected reds to nicely compliment the seafood. Bailli of Manila Freddie Borromeo also brought a bottle of one his personal favorites, which he shared with the dinner company around his table, including three generations of Borromeos.
It was an evening well-spent. The dinner patrons expressed appreciation for the gustatory experience, applauding the team who had provided a memorable repast. Vice Chancellor Arnie del Rosario ended by giving everyone something to look forward to as he announced forthcoming dinners in the months ahead. Already, the members were talking about the kaiseki and the August moon dinner, even as they savored the aftertaste of the Domaine Marcel Lapierre Morgon 2016.