Chef Josean @NeruaGBilbao X Chef Chele @GalleryVask: Two Old Friends Cooking (A Photo Essay)

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Nerua Guggenheim Bilbao was the last restaurant Chef Chele worked for before coming to the Philippines, and he considers Chef Josean Alija as one of his mentors. Naturally, having these two old friends cooking together for the first time here in Manila was bound to result into something really special. 

Here’s a photo essay of  the 4 hands dinner by Chef Josean of Nerua Guggenheim Bilbao x Chef Chele of Gallery Vask… 

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Welcome to Gallery Vask! Let me introduce you to my new favorite dining corner. 🙂


Welcome Cocktail

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Bloody Mary by Nerua Guggenheim-Bilbao

The experience started with the classic cocktail inside these cherry tomatoes, which explode as you bite into them.


Snack in the Kitchen

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Torrezno. Cod Crackling by Nerua Guggenheim-Bilbao

Crunchy cod skin chicharon (but only limited to two pieces…bitin!)


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✮ Wagyu Chicharon by Gallery Vask

Big wagyu chicharon pieces dipped in pinakurat vinegar!


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The simple table setup with the dinner brochure and the signed degustation menu by both chefs. (Take a closer look at the menu)


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Champagne Ayala Bru Majeur



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Sardines by Gallery Vask

Cured sardines on top of purple rice crackers.


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✮ Adobo Pandesal by Gallery Vask

A crispy pandesal with oozing adobo mousse inside.


Main Courses

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Escabeche by Gallery Vask. Elephant Clams, Fermented Mango.

Well-cooked elephant clams with pickled mango sauce. Not your usual combination.


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Domaine Huet Vouvray Le Mont Sec 2011


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Nabo Jamon by Nerua Guggenheim-Bilbao. White Turnip, Parmesan Cheese, Iberico Joselito

A faux carbonara pasta using slices of white turnip paired with Jamon Iberico.


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✮ Aubergine by Gallery Vask. Squid, Eggplant.

The squid was cooked two ways–the head was grilled while the body was confit in garlic oil. There were chunks of eggplant smoked in Tamarind wood and the ju came from steaming the eggplant. I enjoyed eating the squid in combination with the eggplant.


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Recuerdo 2012 Torrontes


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River Prawns by Nerua Guggenheim-Bilbao. Vegetable Broth, Enoki Mushroom, Curry, Mint.

The prawns are cooked sous-vide at 35°C for 20 minutes with head of enoki mushrooms, curry powder, and mint leaves. No comment.


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Loved the conversations about how the Manila culinary scene is vibrant, exciting but at times, boring…


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✮ Kokotxa by Nerua Guggenheim-Bilbao. Cod Kokotxa, Green Pepper, Pil-Pil Sauce.

Voted as the best dish of the night in terms of flavor, uniqueness, and an authentic Basque dish in Manila.

Kokotxa (cod throat) is cooked at 62°C for 5 hours with a green magical sauce with a slimy collagen texture, green pepper, and green coffee bean. So good! 


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500 by Gallery Vask. Sour Spices, Onion.

This is a Moorish-inspired dish, which is an adaption of a 500-year old recipe.


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You can eat it on its own or add some almond and raisin flavors. Something different and not your usual flavor for fish.


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Bogavante by Nerua Guggenheim-Bilbao. Lobster, Aromatic Herbs, Broth.

Lobster with a light herb broth mixed with sake.


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Bato-Bato by Gallery Vask. Pigeon, Okra, Mustasa, Longgan.

Pigeon served with okra seeds, mustasa leaves, and pickled/fresh longgan paired with red wine.


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Docetto D’Alba 2011



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Suman by Gallery Vask. Mango, Vanilla, Rice.

Mango suman a la mode-inspired dessert with the vanilla ice cream in crispy rice with mango chunks and sauce.


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Kiralyudvar Tokaji Furmint Demi-Sec 2009



✮ Aguacate by Nerua Guggenheim-Bilbao. Avocado, Fenugreek Ice Cream, Black Olive, Coffee.

This dessert was so good that I forgot to take a photo before it was gone. Fenugreek-flavored ice cream on a bed of avocado sauce with intense bits of black olive with coffee.


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Chef Josean and Chef Chele personally thanked each guest and gave them this pasalubong gift.


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Rice Cake Mochi collaboration. It needed to be rested for another 24 hours in the ref before being ready to be eaten.


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Mochi. Collaboration of Nerua Guggenheim-Bilbao and Gallery Vask.

We ended the meal on the 12th floor gallery to enjoy the actual mochi with plain or pandan flavors.


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Kristoffer Ardeña gave a peak into his art collection called Fisuras, which is like an open art studio concept where we can see the unfinished or unmounted works before the actual exhibit.


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The artwork is several layers of paint on different mediums and is cracked open to reveal a chaotic colorful pattern.

Watch out for Kristoffer’s Fisuras exhibit, which opens on September 30 at Manifesto Gallerie at Clipp Center, Bonifacio Global City.


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Overall, the entire menu was minimalist and a showcase of Filipino ingredients and Basque cuisine. 

My favorites were the Bloody Mary, Wagyu Chicharon, and Adobo Pandesal for the starters. For the mains, Kokotxa was the best, followed by the Aubergine Squid for me. For dessert, the Aguacate was the overall winner. I also liked the personal touch of giving each guest a mochi to take home.

Congratulations to Cross Cultures by Cheryl Tiu, Chef Chele of Gallery Vask, and Chef Josean of Nerua Guggenheim-Bilbao for the successful 4 hands dinner! 

Follow Cross Cultures by Cheryl Tiu on Facebook and subscribe to Cheryl’s Blog for more exciting collaborations in the future!


Live an Awesome Life,



Disclosure: Thank you to Cheryl & Chef Chele for the wonderful dining experience. I wrote this article with my biases, opinions, and insights

P.S. The wine pairings and some of the elements that were supposed to bring the dishes together were a bit off that night. 

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