Comfort Cuisine: Chef Sau Del Rosario's Cafe Fleur is a Way of Honoring his Mother, the 'Original Plantita' - Lifestyle Asia

The menu at the Chefs Poblacion-based baby is inspired by his late mother Lutgarda’s recipes.

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At the beginning stages of opening Cafe Fleur, Chef Sau Del Rosario admits that he didn’t have a solid concept of what its menu would look like. However, he knew he wanted to provide Filipinos with comforting food in the middle of all the stressors that came with the COVID pandemic.

But instead of sulking when two of his restaurants closed down, he took the opportunity to evolve. 

The Pampanga native found himself scouting for locations near his home in Makati and had progress in mind. He had three requirements: the space needed to be quaint, be a good area to dispatch deliveries, and be able to accommodate al-fresco dining.

When he found the right location in Poblacion, he shared that his first customers were his neighbors. From there, word about Cafe Fleur would spread and eventually got rave reviews from diners and media alike. 

The celebrated dishes are from his mother Lutgarda’s Kapampangan recipes, and Del Rosario fused his international culinary knowledge to create a fusion of Filipino and global flavors. In fact, he considers the cafe collaboration with his mom and a way to honor her. 

“We call it Cafe Fleur because when I was growing up my mom was the original plantita. She loves flowers and plants, and our house was surrounded with flowers,” the classically trained chef shares. “So with Cafe Fleur, it’s a tribute to my mother because when I was a struggling chef in Paris, my mom passed away.”

As he continues his family’s legacy as a third-generation chef, Del Rosario’s passion for food persists despite these uncertain times. He considers his time abroad, where he absorbed as much knowledge as he can, a blessing.

But Del Rosario always knew he would come home. “My heart is really here in the Philippines,” he says. “It was always my passion to cook for Filipinos.”

Following his Instincts

In Cafe Fleur’s menu, which opened last January, you can try classic hearty dishes refined by Del Rosario’s global touch.

He aims to highlight local elements from pasta with tuyo and aligue as key ingredients to their big plates of salted egg-yolk prawns and duck leg confit.

The cafe also offers Filipino baked good staples such as pan de coco and pan de queso through their panaderia. And in Cafe Fleur’s latest menu additions, quattro formaggi and BBQ pork pizzas are available for delivery.

On how he diversifies and updates Cafe Fleur’s selection, Del Rosario shares that there’s “a lot of studies and a lot of visualizing what comes next.” But at the core of it all, he follows his instincts to know what customers would appreciate. 

Sharing knowledge

The chef knows that he has been fortunate to train in various culinary hubs like Nice and Shanghai. 

“Honestly, when I was still abroad, I was like a sponge. I absorbed everything that I could learn,” Del Rosario explains. And with his knowledge, he believes it’s necessary to pass it on. 

He adds that “there are so many people who can’t go to culinary school because it’s too expensive.” It’s something that hits close to home for the chef because as a graduate of the University of the Philippines, his family felt it’s unnecessary to go abroad. 

However, Del Rosario felt that becoming classically trained in France would satiate his hunger to sharpen his culinary skills. The chef compares his life in France to a rollercoaster ride, but after decades in the industry, he says he still hasn’t lost an ounce of passion for the culinary arts. 

Now, he shares his know-how with the chefs that work under him. Del Rosario even considers them as another reason why he opened Cafe Fleur—to provide jobs to younger chefs and help them sustain their families. 

Although he’s approaching sixty, the chef doesn’t see himself retiring. “I’ve always loved to cook, that’s my life, and that’s my passion,” Del Rosario says. With Cafe Fleur’s success, he and his partners are opening more restaurants in the near future.

For more information, follow Cafe Fleur on Instagram and Facebook.

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