In Cebu, there is no shortage of Italian food and most Filipinos love to eat the usual pizza and pasta combination. However Italian food for me is a plate filled with chicken Parma, lasagna and probably other dishes with lots of cheese (now I’m hungry again!).
Towards the end 2017, Shangri-La Mactan Resort & Spa launched a series of dining experiences highlighting a different Italian lifestyle and cuisine through Chef Andrea Burzio’s experience. Chef Andrea’s extensive experience ranges from working in Michelin-starred restaurants to his passion in cooking where he believes that the art of cooking is instrumental in creating meaningful relationships and healthy communities.
I feel lucky that I was able to experience the third installment out of the five series of The Many Lives of Chef Andrea. This installment features family recipes where Chef Andrea grew up in Turin, Italy where the cooking style is heavily influenced by the Piedmont region’s rich natural resources and incorporates ingredients from the valley, the sea and the forest. In his hometown, their dishes are subtly influenced by French cuisine since it is close to the French border. I even remember Chef Andrea telling everyone from the table that in his household, they have the best of both worlds from Italy and France. They have fine butter from the alps & fresh mountain milk and extra fine olive oil from Ligurian/Mediterranean olives that produced the best olive oil in Italy.
The evening started with cocktails from the bar where this guava based cocktail, Tequila Paloma stood out, captured my palate and made me finish 4 rounds before dinner started! Kudos to Villie Kirby Enecio who created this refreshing drink and was able to consistently maintain the taste every time I ask for the same drink all throughout the night.
As I write this blog, my palate slowly remembers the flavors from the heirloom recipes from Chef Andrea’s family. Now its taking me back from the moment when the food was slowly being served to our table. A recipe from Chef Adrea’s grandma was served first. It was a platter of potato and tuna salad in a homemade rustic mayo dressing. It was a good starter since it was light and it didn’t over power my palate. Now I might sound that I’m exaggerating but I currently salivating thinking about my favorite dish that evening. A recipe from Chef Andrea’s dad, a hearty sauteed mussels in spicy tomato sauce. It had the right balance of flavors from the garlic chives, tomatoes and natural flavors of the mussels. Another favorite which came second is Chef Andrea’s recipe (probably dad’s recipe will always be first based from my experience hahaha), an oven-baked Parisienne style spinach gnocchi with Toma cheese fondue.
One of the food prepared by Chef Andrea surprised me with a hint of oriental flavor the moment I tasted it. Its a recipe from Grandma Edda, braised beef with beer, celery, onion, carrot and rosemary. What made it interesting was the ginger added to the dish that evoked Asian flavors.
Forgive me Cass (Director of Communications, Shangri-La Mactan Resort & Spa), I skipped one dish (Grandpa Cesare’s side dishes: homemade french fries, mixed garden salad and sauteed winter winter vegetables) because a trolley full of desserts caught my eye while I was waiting impatiently (forgive me for this behavior haha) to be served. I did not regret having a space for dessert especially the fruit tart that won my heart.
What I like about this series is that everything from the menu relates to a part of Chef Andrea’s personal life. I truly believe that when you cook with passion paired with an emotional family connection, it brings out the best flavors that will surely captivate the diners experience. Right at the beginning of the dinner, it suddenly start to get darker and cooler , then it began to feel like we were all feasting at Chef Andrea’s family estate on a beautiful Sunday dusk in Turin, Italy.
Now l look forward to the fourth installment of The Many Lives of Chef Andrea that features Turin’s genteel way of life. Once the regal seat of the Italian monarchy, Turin’s elegant café culture and sociable customs are distilled into an evening of leisurely sophistication.
Thank you, Shangri-La Mactan Resort & Spa for having me and see you guys very soon.