Food makes the world go round

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Food makes the world go round. In the gastronomic world, celebrated and Michelin-starred chefs are the top players on the “cooking” food chain.

After working alongside great chefs, including Pierre Koffmann, Marco Pierre White, Nico Ladenis and Ferran Adria at el Bulli, British chef Jason Atherton joined the Gordon Ramsey Group in 2001. After launching Maze in London and overseeing the opening of five more Maze restaurants, Jason left to launch his own restaurant group, The Social Company.

Many Michelin stars later, chef Jason and his Cebuana wife Irha opened their first restaurant in the Philippines, The Pig & Palm. Located in Cebu City in MSY Tower, Cebu Business Park, the 57-cover restaurant offers a modern Spanish tapas menu with a focus on pork dishes.

Not wanting to miss the chance to meet a rock star of the culinary circuit, I gladly accepted the invitation of gracious Mariquita Yeung to fly to Cebu for the opening. Together with travel buddies Mons Romulo, Anton San Diego and Pepper Teehankee, we experienced the incredible cooking mastery of chef Jason.

The Pig & Palm is the sixteenth restaurant of The Social Company, from London to New York, Shanghai to Sydney, Hong Kong to Dubai, and now, Cebu. Local partners Chris and Carla McKowen, the Cebu-based property developers, and architect Lyndon Neri, aim to bring a taste of Spanish gastronomy to Cebu in an informal, contemporary environment.

At the launch, Jason told me, “It has always been Irha’s dream to bring some of the success of our restaurant group back to her hometown. As my wife and co-director of The Social Company, it gives me no greater joy than to open a Social destination here as my love letter to her.”

His business partner Carla, daughter of Carlos and Mariquita Yeung, passionately shared with me that Cebu is a foodie destination in its own right. Along with her husband Chris, they had fun taking inspiration from their surroundings and creating a space defined by the taste buds of chef Jason Atherton and the design eye of Lyndon Neri.

Jason and Manila-born head chef Tim dela Cruz have developed a menu of modern tapas-style sharing dishes, interpreted using the best of Filipino produce. As suggested by the restaurant’s name, dishes will celebrate Cebu’s reputation as a destination for pork, with a focus on pig-based plates sourced from local farms in Cebu.

Group bar executive Jamie Jones created the drinks menu for The Pig & Palm, focused on blends of traditional Filipino fruits with British cocktail styles. The Pig & Palm is open from Tuesday to Sunday for breakfast, lunch, and dinner from 8:00am to 10:00pm. Reservations are now accepted. E-mail reservations@thepigandpalm.ph or call 032.255.8249.

Filipino chefs are creating waves in the international food arena. Nobu New York executive chef Ricky Estrellado is coming to Nobu Manila to collaborate with the latter’s head chef Michael De Jesus for a gastronomic feast that Nobu-fies timeless Filipino recipes with Japanese-Peruvian influences, for a special engagement on August 18 and 19.

The two-night event highlights the collaboration of two talented Filipino chefs who have both worked with the renowned Chef Nobu Matsuhisa for years. Chef Ricky, who has worked with Nobu for 22 years, is the executive chef in New York, overseeing both the Nobu New York in Tribeca and Nobu Next Door along Hudson Street. Chef Michael, a Fil-Am who grew up in the USA, started his nine-year career with Nobu in the Los Angeles restaurant then worked in Nobu Las Vegas, immediately before coming to Nobu Manila early this year.

The dinner’s indulgent eight-course menu highlights Nobu-style interpretations of Filipino classic cuisine, ranging from Sisig Foie Gras on a Gyoza Cone to Beef Short Ribs Kare-Kare Anticucho.

Nobu Manila is open for breakfast and dinner daily, and is at the first level of Nobu Hotel Manila, the first Nobu Hotel in Asia. The hotel is located at City of Dreams Manila in Entertainment City, Parañaque. For inquiries and reservations, call 800-8080 or email guestservices@cod-manila.com or visit cityofdreams.com.ph.

Last Sunday, City of Dreams’ Charisse Chuidian invited us to experience the Sunday brunch at Nobu Manila. The brunch takes dining to another level as the hip and modern, celebrity-inspired restaurant enthralls diners on Sundays from 11:30 AM to 3 PM. The brunch is priced half-off for kids 6 to 12 years old, and is free for kids 5 years and under.

The Nobu Sunday brunch buffet has a continuously evolving selection of dishes and live action stations. Some 50 items in the brunch fare will satisfy any hearty appetite and craving for the innovative new style of Japanese cuisine that incorporates Peruvian ingredients. As an added gastronomic thrill, some much-raved-about hot dishes are passed around.

Let me end with a shout out for “Firebird and Other Ballets,” the start of Ballet Philippines’ 47th Season: “Wings.” Georgian-born George Birkadze choreographs an all-new “Firebird”, reimagined into a pre-Hispanic Philippine setting, with costumes by visionary painter, Mark Higgins.

Ballet Philippines’ cast is led by Rita Angela Winder and Jemima Reyes as the Firebird, Jean Marc Cordero and Garry Corpuz as the Pearl Merchant from the Silk Road, Denise Parungao and Monica Amanda Gana as the Princess From the Land of Spices, and Cyril Aran Fallar and Victor Maguad as Koschei the Immortal.

“Firebird and Other Ballets” will be staged at the CCP Main Theater on August 19 at 8:00 PM, and August 20 & 21 at 2:00 and 6:00 PM. For inquiries, visit www.ballet.ph, send an email to info@ballet.ph, or call Ballet Philippines at 551-1003.

Follow @tessavaldes on Twitter and @seaprincess888 on Instagram.

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