Who’s Cooking: Chef x Caterer Collaboration Signature Menu! @The_Blue_Leaf

Calling all foodie brides! Use your wedding day splurge to hire Manila’s Top Chefs to create your own personal menu! Our Awesome Planet and The Blue Leaf proudly presented Who’s Cooking? A Chef x Caterer Collaboration last July 27 at The Blue Leaf Filipinas. Whether you are getting married, celebrating a milestone occasion or organizing a Christmas party for your company come 2020 and beyond, this was a must-go event, a never-before-attempted collaboration between The Blue Leaf partner caterers and Manila’s most sought-after chefs. The result was a creative marriage of traditional catering techniques and topnotch culinary innovation.  Yup, it is now possible to have your favorite chef cater your big banquet with 500 persons and up! Caterer and chef were partnered together: they took an idea-filled creative journey then jointly produced a mouth-watering menu to be exclusively offered to The Blue Leaf clients. If you’ve been to the previous Big Banquet event of OAP X The Blue Leaf, I bet you’ll remember how great the food was. Now imagine those same caterers collaborating with Manila’s Top Chefs. Surely, it was one epic meal you won’t forget! Here’s a look at the whole new level of collaboration menu between 11 chefs x 11 caterers… Chefs X Caterers Collaboration 5-Course Dinner The Blue Leaf Filipinas (beside City of Dreams) Follow the Official Hashtag: #ChefsXCaterers 1. Chef Chele x Mesclun’s Signature 5-course Menu Chef Chele dubbed this collaboration as “Tapas 2.0,” and these were unlike any tapas you’ve seen before. The team of Chef Chele and Mesclun was a match made in culinary heaven, and it showed just how well the French culinary tradition went with the Basque. Gazpacho Ceviche Lapu-lapu ceviche, strawberry gazpacho, leche de tigre Uni Txangurrro Sea urchin, txangurro, bisque, hollandaise on sourdough Pulpo Chimichurri Octopus, mojoverde, black chips and paprika potato espuma Bolzico Tenderloin Risoni risotto, parmesan chips, basil oil and jus Basque Cheesecake Burnt Basque cheesecake, raspberry gelato, matcha meringue, white chocolate and almond slivers The Spanish know how to cook their octopus! It was hard to choose between the pulpo and the Uni Txangurrro, which were equally a visual feast. The Uni  Txangurrro, however, was the crowd favorite. The dish was a perfect marriage of Basque and French cuisines. We loved every single detail from the umami flavors, textures, even the thoughtful and beautiful plating. Light and fresh raspberry gelato topped the smoky and charred sugar shell of the heavenly bittersweet cheesecake. It was so good! Chef José Luis “Chele” Gonzalez has had a long and storied career before he made his home in the Philippines. Hailing from Torrelavega, Spain, Chef Chele has had stints in legendary restaurants such as El Bulli, Arzak, Mugaritz and El Cellar de Can Roca. He made a mark in the Philippine culinary scene first with Gallery Vask, then, with its evolution, Gallery by Chele. Here, he pours in his love for adventure and unique approach to cooking into Filipino flavors, continuing to push the boundaries of the local food experience. Mesclun Events Catering + Styling took its name from the French that literally translates to “mixture.” With over 13 years in the business, Mesclun has embodied its name by bringing a harmonious marriage of colors, flavors, textures and cuisines in every celebration.  


2. Chef Ed Bugia x Bizu’s Signature 5-Course Menu Chef Ed and Bizu’s take on favorite desserts and candies was to give them a savory twist with a dash of humor. Trust us, you’ve never tasted sweets like these before. Mac and Cheese Macaron English sharp cheddar with candied smoked bacon Lobster Eclair Maine Lobster with truffle aioli on eclair Pork and Apple Chip Slow roasted pork belly on apple tulle and pickles Foie Rocher Foie Gras Mousse with candied fruit, milk chocolate and crushed almonds Caramel Pop Rock Lollipop Milk chocolate with caramel and pop rocks

The lobster itself was a guaranteed hit! But imagine it being elevated with the addition of butter infused with truffle oil, Old Bay seasoning and shrimp bisque. The lobster was then placed in a soft eclair pastry, making a perfect bun.
I would prefer the buns, though, to be more crunchy or flaky for texture. Nevertheless, it was still a great dish.
You should also try their bright yellow cheese macarons. You’d get a surprise in every bite, first with the sharpness of the cheddar, then with the salty-sweetness of the bacon.
Inspired by Ferrero Rocher candies, these treats came stuffed with a foie gras surprise! These sweet-and-salty, creamy-crunchy treats worked great as both hors d’oeuvre and dessert.

Restaurant mogul and chef Ed Bugia is a self-professed cooking geek from whose creative brain sprung forth popular casual food destinations—Pino Resto Bar, Pipino Vegetarian, BRGR: The Burger Project, Pi: Breakfast and Pies, Mimi & Bros and Bean and Yolk. His playful personality is clearly translated into his food. As the head of the F&B division of the MFT Group of Companies, he also oversees the expansion of several other brands for them such as Salad Stop! in Spain and Vietnam, and La Lola Cafe and Churreria in Singapore. Bizu orchestrates the elements of intimate affairs with a flair for class and an eye for the slightest whim of the client. Its fresh and inventive continental cuisine is part of the symphony of colors, textures and sculpted floral arrangements that Bizu events are known for.  


3. Chef Tatung x Juan Carlo’s Signature 5-course Menu Islas Filipinas x Tradition Innovation: Juan Carlo and Chef Tatung took a good look at contemporary Philippines cuisine and transformed seemingly ordinary ingredients into vignettes of flavors that evoked nostalgia even in the smallest of bites. Duck for Cover Mascovy duck rillette, foie gras mousse, blackened toast Pig and Bananas Honey-Glazed Pork, Longganisang Taal, Mofongo Sultan’s Kiss Maranao rice with fresh uni, shrimp and salmon roe A Bull of Its Horn A slow-roasted Batangas beef in Barako demi-glace and calamansi mostarda Tropical Rendezvous Deconstructed Brazo de Mercedes with Potpourri of Philippine Sweets Elegantly plated, we loved the playful modern twist on the Pinoy dishes by Chef Tatung X Juan Carlo. Their most noteworthy dish was their deconstructed Brazo de Mercedes with a potpourri of Philippine sweets. Tropical rendezvous was a subtle showcase of the best Philippine sweets, the perfect ender where you could taste everything you want in a dessert in one single bite! The small molded roll of al dente Maranao rice, colored and flavored with buttery uni, mixed with shrimp and topped with salmon roe—popping it into your mouth would be like tasting the ocean in one bite! Another dish was the slow-roasted Batangas beef in Barako demi-glace and calamansi. The coffee gave the beef a rustic depth of flavor, while the calamansi added a bittersweet tanginess that cleansed the palate in between bites. Chef Tatung Sarthou is the resident chef and segment host of a morning show, as well as the 1st Place Winner of the World Gourmand Awards (Yantai, China, 2017) for his best-selling Philippine Cookery from Heart to Platter. He was one of the two Manila-based chefs invited to speak at Madrid Fusión Manila, the first and only Asian edition of the most important gastronomy congress in the world, held yearly in Spain. He was also the first Filipino to appear on the main congress stage at the 15th Madrid Fusión Congress in Spain. He also appeared on the Philippine episode of the Netflix series Street Food. Juan Carlo Catering has its origins as a food-to-go business providing for small catering projects in Zahran Al-Janoub Hospital where co-founder Teresita Macantangay worked as a medical technician. With her husband Engr. Alex Michael U. Del Rosario, they started the business Juan Carlo the Caterer, named after their child. After 11 years abroad, they came home to establish their catering business in Batangas where they have since been a celebrity favorite.   


4. Chef Niño x K by Cunanan’s Signature 5-course Menu What would you get when you combine Chef Niño’s suave and adventurous spirit with K by Cunanan’s sweet and easy-going charm? A native Filipino menu that was great with either a bottle of beer or a glass of wine! Putok batok never felt so good. PATA, bagnet, buggy Pork trotters, braised in bugnay wine until its very tender and its hashed. Wrapped in homemade bagnet with sampinit fruit KADIOS, patani, feta, compressed watermelon, kasuy Veg dish, composed of local goat cheese, local lima beans—croquettes! Patani with local sesame seeds, drizzled with freshly foraged honey (vinagrete) PUGITA, kulma, cauliflower puree, pumpkin bagoong, mais & Vigan longganisa salsa Octupus braised with local chilies, marinated in chilies and cooked with dalandan and soy sauce—spicy aftertaste; kulma sauce (kare kare and curry); baguio cauliflower puree and local longganissa, pumpkin bagoong OX TONGUE, buto ng langka, pipian berde Lengua; sauce is made of pipian (ilocano sauce)—everything green. Langka seeds made into potato COCONUT, tibuk-tibok, latik, burnt coconut tuile Tibuk tibok with latik crumbs on the sides, burnt coconut (used by Tausugs), katmon fresh Our fave dish was equally close to home for both of the chefs—a collaboration between both Chef Nins and K’s family heirloom dishes. The ox tongue skewers was tender and flavorful, made rich with the mash made out of “buto ng langka” that revolutionized the dish. A must try! The ice cream was truly fragrant, creamy and not overly rich. The coconut flavor was a great base for just about anything, especially latik crumbs and katmon. Chef Niño Laus is the ingenious chef behind Agimat Foraging Bar and Kitchen, where his creativity delights and amazes Metro Manila’s hip and adventurous set. He has traveled to far-flung areas of the Philippines on his quest to feature nothing but Filipino ingredients in Agimat. At the other end of the restaurant spectrum is his first restaurant Ninyo Fusion Cuisine, one of the most romantic restaurants in the city, where Chef Niño gets to experiment with other international cuisines. K by Cunanan is one of the most popular caterers in the wedding and event industry because of its distinctive understated style paired with heartwarming dishes with new flavors. For K by Cunanan, any successful occasion calls for a trifecta of excellent food, experience and service.  


5. Chef Kalel’s x The Red Chef’s signature 5-course Menu When you thought your favorite Filipino pulutan was good enough as it is, Chef Kalel Chan and The Red Chef made it better. They successfully infused Japanese cuisine into staple late night (or early morning) eats! Ponzu Pinakurat Kilawin with Wasabi Avocado and Gyoza Crisp Shrimp, marlin, squid mixed with pinakurat and wasabi guacamole served with fried gyoza wrapper Aligue Chirashi Mushi with Mentaiko Aburi Chirashi inspired, scallops, tamago, shrimp, mixed with aligue and mayo; unagi sauce torched aburi, tanoki for flavor and mentaiko (cured egg) Balut Chawan Mushi with Uni and Ikura Balut juice, yolk of balut, dashi, egg – tofu form; topped with uni and ikura, gyoza sauce with basil to break the flavor Tapa Maki with Soy Cured Quail Eggs Familiar; tapa maki—tapa, atchara, gari, ginger, crusted with crispy garlic, topped with cured quail egg Matcha Leche Flan with Kinako, Adzuki Beans and Langka Matcha leche flan with langka, kuromitzu and kinaku (soybean flour – black honey), adzuki beans This one was a crowd favorite. Judging from the ingredients, you’d be sure to get an explosion of flavors! Imagine smooth and silky balut topped with umami rich uni, ikura and gyoza sauce. Yum! I loved the chirashi-inspired dish, a tasty mix of torched scallops, shrimp, tamago, aligue and mayo.

You should also try the the Filipino Maki, your everyday breakfast of tapa, eggs and rice in one satisfying bite.

Chef Kalel Chan’s creativity and flair in the kitchen are still evolving despite already having several innovative concept restaurants under his belt. These restaurants include Chelsea Grand Cafe, Chelsea Kitchen, Stella Rocketroom, Saboten, Kabila, Simple Lang and Providore. He is also responsible for coming up with new and exciting flavors for the Japanese restaurant and bar Chotto Matte/Izakaya Sensu and the acclaimed Filipino restaurant Friends & Family. As if these weren’t enough, Chef Kalel also has a new concept restaurant Motto-Motto in Taguig, and Cha-Cha’s in Boracay. No occasion is too big or too small for The Red Chef and Events Specialist. With the Red Chef, it is always a guaranteed memorable dining experience and event. Backed by individuals who are driven by their passion for excellent food and unique experiences, it is always committed to giving the customer professional service at its best, and, most of all, value for money.  


6. Chef Robby Goco x The Creamery Signature 5-course Menu Chef Robby Goco and The Creamery’s station boasted colors of blue and white with a Greek-inspired menu of roasted lamb with cheese, beef kebab, moussaka and spanakopita. Their promise: each bite would make you shout Opa! Mini Wagyu Beef Kebabs Wagyu beef patties with Greek Pita bread, yogurt sauce, red sauce, red onion and parsley Cheese Saganaki Station Served with horiatiko bread Spanakopita Triangles Spinach, feta cheese in flaky pastry Marouli Salata (Greek Spring Salad) Shredded mix greens, tomato, spring onions, dill, crumbled feta served with lemon evoo dressing Seafood Yiouvetsi Crustacean stock, orzo, prawns, mussels, clams and scallops Roasted leg of lamb with Aligot Leg of lamb, potatoes, served with roasted vegetables

Cheese is always a good idea! A popular appetizer, it literally lit up the room when the cheese was pan-seared and flambéed tableside. The fried Greek cheese was placed on a crispy horiatiko bread and topped with either fig jam or honey. It was a divine salty and sweet appetizer!
And it was a sure hit as shown by the long line at Cheese Saganaki Station.
What’s a Greek menu without roasted leg of lamb? The luxurious dish was best paired with the goodness of the cheesy aligot, a comforting cheese-enhanced mashed-potato dish from central France.

Chef Raoul Roberto Goco, or more famously known as Chef Robby, is the culinary mind behind crowd favorites Cyma Greek Taverna, Souv! by Cyma and the farm-to-table restaurant Green Pastures. A prolific and innovative chef, he has also created the distinct and sumptuous menus of various restaurants including Tequila Joe’s, Achiote Taqueria, Go Greek, Munchtown, Le Monet, Hotel Luna, Vitalis Villas, Yumi and many others. Famous for Kiddie Parties since 2007, The Creamery, by special demand, launched its off-premise catering in 2013. Its live stations feature give any event an extra flair and their most popular stations are S’mores Bar, Nacho Station, Popcorn Station, Hot Chocolate Station, Carving Station, Dessert Station.  


7. Lechon Diva x Center Table’s Signature 5-course Menu There’s no grand feast without the lechon! And who else can better serve us our crunchy pork skin than the Lechon Diva herself? Chef Dedet and Center Table’s collab would remind you of your favorite Filipino dishes inspired by the flavors of land and sea. Phoenix Crystal Nest Crispy bihon, cashews, chestnuts, mushroom, chorizo Macao, secret sauce Foie Taco Crisp Foie and parmesan cheese Lechon Flambe Boneless lechon, stuffed with rosemary and herbs Squid Ink Crisp with Mangoes and Mussels Tapioca powder, squid ink, garlic aioli, mussels and mango—CORALS! Mango Creme Mousseline Crepe Custard, flavored crepe—love for mangoes!

No Filipino celebration is complete without the Lechon! The nostalgic lechon was made even more exquisite by flambeing the skin, giving it the extra crunch that we all love.

Foodies always rave about Dedet’s creative variations of stuffed lechon. While my favorite is French Lechon with Truffle Stuffing, this time I got to try the Lechon Flambe stuffed with an explosive aroma of rosemary and various mix of herbs. Inspired by every Filipino’s love for mangoes, this custard flavored crepe was the best way to end the meal. Rich creamy filling bathed with the sweetness of mango. Lechon Diva, also known as Dedet de la Fuente of Pepita’s Kitchen, is famous for her level-up Filipino fiesta food. Her Truffle Lechon, a divine marriage of Filipino and French cuisines: crispy-skinned Cebu lechon stuffed with truffle rice has put her on the map of every foodie in Metro Manila. Center Table Catering is known, not just for its quality food and service for all kinds of functions and celebrations, but for its beautiful, elegant and lavish settings which can rival those of the best florists.  


8. Chef Natalia x Passion Cook’s Signature 5-course Menu This was a team that clicked right from the start. You could taste the love in each dish; it felt like a warm hug with every bite. Pork and Mushroom Tapenade Pork, mushroom, puff pastry Tinapa Pate on Tutong Tutong (rice), jellied tomato, ebiko Shrimp and Corn Fresh-Pressed Tortellini Shrimp, corn, aligue, shrimp bisque, pesto, kaffir sauce, micro vein sorrel, micro mustard, pepper and polenta, crushed candied pistachio Sous-Vide Tuna with Couscous salad and Mango Coconut Sauce Tuna, couscous, mango, coconut, sesame paste, ebiko, crust, tuna marinade, feta cheese, hito flakes Arabica-rubbed Roast Beef with Fried Kamote and Truffle Mash Chimichurri sauce, roast beef, coffee rub, peppercorn sauce, fried sweet potato Guinataan Balls in White Coconut Sauce and Cookie Crumble

Find all your favorite ingredients of the ginataan in one bite. The bilo-bilo, swimming in a creamy coconut sauce with white chocolate, was stuffed with the usual kamote and banana. A must try!
A rich and comforting meal, you’d get a burst of flavor from the tortellini swimming in a rich shrimp bisque sauce.

Another noteworthy dish was the Tinapa Pate on Tutong. The simple Filipino breakfast made of a combination of rice (tutong), tinapa, salted egg and tomato was playfully reconstructed into an exquisite hors d’oeuvres.

Chef Natalia Moran is the woman behind more than a few popular restaurants in Boracay: The Sunny Side Café, Spicebird Piri Piri Grill, Supermagic Burgers, Streetmarket Food Hall and Little Wave Café. In the city, she is the Executive Chef of PizzaExpress and Your Local of the Tasteless Group of Restaurants. Her diverse foodscape only goes to show that we can always expect something unexpected from Chef Natalia. Passion Cooks was established by the mother and daughter team of Laura and Maja Martinez. Chef Laura channels her heart as a mother into her dishes. So whether it’s an intimate reunion, a blessing of a new business venture or even a grand celebration, Passion Cooks offers delightful service and, above all, food cooked with passion.  


9. Chef Mikel Zaguirre x Albergus’ Signature 5-Course Menu For this collaboration with Albergus, Chef Mikel took out the continental flavors from his arsenal and deftly married them to Asian flavors to create five unexpected dishes. Foiewich Seared foie gras on thin buttered toast served with onion jam and mango aioli Softshell Crab Bisque Softshell crab fry on banana spring roll served with julienne of radish in sesame oil, crab bisque Sous-vide Short-rib Green Curry Sou-vide short rib in green curry sauce served on fresh coconut shell with eggplant caviar Duck A’L Orange Seared duck breast served with sweet potato puree, sweet potato chips and orange-port wine reduction White Chocolate Blue Cheese Éclair Blue cheese mousse with pear 3-way: Brunoise of Pear and Cranberry, Pickled and White Wine Foiewich—taste the fatty and juicy foie sandwiched between two thin layers of crouton adding that crunch, while you have that mango aioli adding sweetness to the dish. It was a burst of rich, buttery and silky texture in one bite. Softshell crab with its meat mixed with aligue brought out the strong flavors of the ocean. Foodies and casual diners can’t get enough of Chef Mikel Zaguirre’s radical take on classic Filipino dishes in Locavore and Fyre Rooftop Lounge. His passionate, straightforward approach to his craft brings out the bold flavors, textures and aesthetics delivering a feast of the senses that is not easy to forget. Albergus has a four decade-long reputation of providing everything you need for any occasion: creative cuisine, flawless event execution and unparalleled customer service. They are a go-to caterer for weddings, business engagements, social affairs, galas or fundraisers for generations.  


10. Chef Francis’ x Tjioe’s Signature 5-course Menu Chef Francis and Tjioe brought together their shared Chinese heritage and came up with a menu that was both familiar and surprising at the same time. Their dishes stayed true to the classic flavors but with a new and often playful touch. Pork Satay Cups, Fried Crumbled Tokwa Pork Belly Patatim, Fried Mantou Sliders, Pickled Radish, Pickled Cucumber Steamed Lapu-lapu, Wansoy Chimichuri, Sweet Soy Mayo, Crispy Fish Skin Beef Terrine, Crunchy Tendon Chicharon Haw Flakes Buchi with Cream Cheese This bite of the classic steamed lapu-lapu dish delivered fresh flavors punctuated by sesame oil, fresh shoots of green onions, with a satisfying crunch of the fish skin. Take a bite on a buchi stuffed with all your childhood memories! The playful dessert was filled with a tangy plum center instead of the traditional sweet bean filling. Nav Thai and Tipple & Slaw are the brainchildren of Chef Francis Lim. Innovative, with a flair for experimentation, Chef Francis likes to keep his menus hip, relevant and unexpected. He enjoys working with underrated ingredients and making them shine in his cuisine. You’ve never had Filipino, Chinese and Thai food quite like how Chef Francis makes them. Tjioe the Caterer has been in the catering business for two decades already. Its roots come from one of the oldest Chinese restaurants in the Philippines—QuikSnak in Binondo. Tjioe the Caterer was born to handle QuikSnak’s catering service. Its specialty is incorporating traditional dishes with modern and innovative applications.  


11. Chef Josh x Hizon’s Signature 5-course Menu Chef Josh translates the flavors of the region where he had found the love of his life and started his young family: Scandinavia. The Nordic influence on his dishes were brought to the fore with the tried and tested expertise of Hizon’s catering. Cured Salmon, herbed cream cheese served on toasted sourdough Argentinian roasted chicken, basil and radish salad and chimichurri Roast pork, caramelized and pickled carrot, mustard sauce Sous vide beef cheeks with parmesan mashed potatoes Passion fruit gelee, White Chocolate mousse and oranges

Our favorite was the slow-cooked beef cheeks that were meltingly tender, garnished with edible flowers and powdered pistachio accompanied by creamy parmesan mashed potatoes. You’d be dreaming about this dish for a while.
The Argentinian chicken was full of the incredible flavors of chimichurri sauce! It was bold, it was beautiful and, best of all, it was a comforting yet well-balanced meal.

Don’t forget to try their brownies! Insanely sinful, insanely fudgy and insanely delicious.

Josh Boutwood came from Bedford, England, but he has lived a considerable nomadic life. He has moved around Europe, cooking his way to the tropical beaches of Spain and Boracay where he started his own restaurant, Alchemy. Now based squarely at the center of BGC, Chef Josh runs the kitchens of his two restaurants: Savage and Helm. He is also the corporate executive chef of The Bistro Group. Hizon’s has been a well-known catering institution for more than 30 years now. Hizon’s has been a part of thousands of weddings, debuts, kids parties, corporate events and private functions. The secret to the company’s longevity lies not just in its catering services but in its being its clients’ partner every step of the way—from conceptualizing, budgeting, planning, up to final execution. Live an Awesome Life, ABI of Team Our Awesome Planet Disclosure: We were media guests of The Blue Leaf. I wrote this article with my biases, opinions and insights.

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