Margarita Fores Named Asia’s 50 Best Female Chef 2016

Margarita Fores, Margaux Salcedo, margauxlicious, Asia's 50 Best restaurants, World's 50 Best

I had been rooting for this moment for so long!

Since I can remember, have been wanting to see Margarita Fores’ name up there alongside Asian greats and finally the day has come.

Margarita Fores was named Asia’s Best Female Chef for 2016 by the Asia’s 50 Best Restaurant Awards Jury.

Fores succeeds Hong Kong’s Chef Vicky Lau of Tate Dining Room in Hong Kong, who was Best Female Chef 2015; who succeeded Lanshu Chen of Le Mout Restaurant in Taiwan.

Margarita Fores, Asia's Best Female Chef 2015; Asia's 50 Best; World's 50 Best. Margaux Salcedo for World’s 50 Best through its Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants page has written a beautiful tribute to Fores on its website, calling her a “gregarious” chef with an “empire” that “extends to 28-year-old catering company Cibo di M, where she has fed the likes of former Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and the King and Queen of Spain”. See full article HERE.

Fores also headlines the much visited

Margarita Fores, World's 50 Best. Asia's 50 Best Female Chef 2016. Margaux Salcedo for – or Gaita as she is fondly called – is so adorable as she receives the announcement that she has been recognized as Asia’s Best Female Chef, saying she feels like Miss Universe!

Chef Margarita Fores changed the Philippine culinary landscape in the ’90s by introducing authentic Italian cooking, after returning from Italy. Her restaurant Cibo is now a staple in practically every Philippine mall, the go-to for delicious Italian fare at affordable rates. Her former showroom Pepato was a favorite in the 2000s, commended by visiting chef friend Chef Mario Batali. Fores’ new playground is Lusso in Greenbelt and continues catering for the President of the Philippines for state dinners such as the Inaugural dinner and APEC. She was also one of the forces that, in the words of World’s 50 Best, “gregariously” made Madrid Fusion Manila happen.

Chef Forés will receive her award at the Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2016 ceremony in Bangkok, Thailand, on Monday 29th February.

More on Chef Margarita Fores:

Madrid Fusion Manila

Margarita Fores’ Italy

Traveling with Margarita Fores


Margarita Fores’ Italy: Rome

Ristoranti Al 34, Rome. Photo by Margaux Salcedo for

Who else to call for tips when going to Rome but the lady who introduced Filipinos to al dente pasta, Margarita Fores.

My first time in Rome a few years ago for the canonization of St. Pedro Calungsod, I asked for tips on where to eat and hunted down her recommendations. They were all delish!

Ristorante Al 34

After visiting the tourist must-see of the Spanish Steps, you can walk to via dei Condotti and just around the corner on Mario de Fiori is Ristorante 34. If you come in the spring or summer you may be lucky enough to eat al fresco and one of those musicians with accordions might just pass by and play on the street. A real Italian experience!

Ristoranti Al 34, Rome. Photo by Margaux Salcedo for is also beautiful inside, though, with a rustic charm about the restaurant. Their website says this restaurant was founded in 1968 (!) and is now a second generation restaurant, run by son Nicola and wife Maria Luisa of founder Walter Casalini.

Ristoranti Al 34, Rome. Photo by Margaux Salcedo for serve classic Roman cuisine. I was pleasantly surprised by how they incorporate arugula into their pasta!

Ristoranti Al 34, Rome. Photo by Margaux Salcedo for Ristoranti Al 34, Rome. Photo by Margaux Salcedo for course we could not leave without having authentic Italian tiramisu and it was the perfect sweet ending.

Ristoranti Al 34, Rome. Photo by Margaux Salcedo for

Gelateria San Crispino

You can’t go to Rome and not have gelato. I mean, even Audrey Hepburn recommended it in Roman Holiday. Remember?

Roman Holiday. Audrey Hepburn.In fact, there are gelato stores almost around every corner near the Trevi Fountain.

But Margarita Fores’ recommendation was nearer Campo dei Fiori. It’s a gelato store called San Crispino.

Incidentally, this is also the gelateria recommended in the book (and movie) Eat Pray Love starring Julia Roberts.

Gelato San Crispino, Trevi, Rome. Photo by Margaux Salcedo for

This is what the Telegraph UK had to say about this gelateria: “Rome’s original gourmet gelateria – as featured in the book Eat Pray Love – is still one of the best. It’s pricey by local standards but the most you’ll pay for a large tub is around £5. Don’t miss the zabaione flavour. Branches at Piazza della Maddalena 3 (Pantheon) and Via della Panetteria 42 (Trevi Fountain).”

Since it was supposedly the best gelato in Rome AND because there was a Filipino behind the counter, I had not only one flavor but THREE.

Gelato San Crispino, Trevi, Rome. Photo by Margaux Salcedo for loved it and immediately understood why it is considered the best. But if you have time only for the Vatican, I also loved the Old Bridge Gelatria near St. Peter’s Square.

Forno, Campo dei Fiori

So apparently if you want pizza in Italy, you have to go all the way to Naples. Instead, you can have Roman pizza bianca which is essentially toasted bread LOL.

Margarita recommended Forno at Campo dei Fiori. It must be very popular because we met a girl from Turino on our walk to Campo dei Fiori and she was also looking for this place!

Pizza Bianca, Campo di Fiori, Rome. Photo by Margaux Salcedo for was also a long line when we arrived and people were calling out their orders to the “bakers” behind the counter.

Pizza Bianco, Forno, Campo dei Fiori, Rome. Photo by Margaux Salcedo for for THIS:

Pizza Bianca, Campo di Fiori, Rome. Photo by Margaux Salcedo for cheese, no tomato sauce, nothing that you would expect from a pizza. LOL. But it was cooked in a brick oven and it was a really tasty flat bread! My mom and I and our new friend ate it right by the statue of Giordano Bruno. (We had originally joked it was Darth Vader!)

Giordano Bruno, Campo dei Fiori, Rome. Photo by Margaux Salcedo for Pizza Bianca, Campo di Fiori, Rome. Photo by Margaux Salcedo for Filetti Baccala, Campo dei Fiori

Another great place at Campo dei Fiori (down the alley) is a place that serves Italy’s response to Britain’s fish n chips: Filetti Baccala. They serve bacalau but fish n chips style .We happened to be beside these two guys (the seats are really close to each other) and they laughed at us when we asked for tartar sauce LOL. Italians are purists, apparently. And you just have the fillets as is or with just a bit of salt. Anyway, it’s alread yperfect as it is!

Filetti Baccala, Rome. Photo by Margaux Salcedo for margauxlicious rome bacallet 3 margauxlicious rome bacallet 2Buon appetito!


Madrid Fusion 2015 Shines Spotlight on Philippines

Chef Myrna Segismundo will be a guest chef at Hotel Orfila during Madrid Fusion 2015

As published in the Philippine Daily Inquirer, January 11, 2015.

“We never thought this would happen in our lifetime,” Chef Myrna Segismundo said, sharing the news that she and Chef Margarita Fores will be cooking at Madrid Fusion in Spain this February.

Madrid Fusion-International Gastronomic Summit is one of the most prestigious gatherings of chefs and influencers in the culinary world.

It is an annual three-day event of food exhibitions, lectures, demonstrations and dinners prepared by celebrity chefs from around the world who are invited to cook at Madrid’s most renowned hotels and dining venues.

This year, Madrid Fusion will be held from Feb. 2 to 4 at the Campo de las Naciones Convention Centre and for the first time, the Philippines will be in the spotlight!

Kinilaw takes center stage

On Feb. 2, Chef Andoni Luis Aduriz of Mugaritz, one of the world’s best restaurants, will speak on the “Mechanisms of Creativity” in the morning; while Chef Elena Arzak, from her multi-awarded eponymous restaurant Arzak (and who has been named Best Female Chef in the world), will discuss “Leafy Cuisine” a little past noon.

But come 6:30 p.m., the Philippine flag will be raised high among these culinary greats as two Filipino chefs,  Segismundo and Fores, take the stage to talk for half an hour about a humble dish we all know: kinilaw.

“I made the Spanish organizers of Madrid Fusion taste kinilaw, among other dishes, when they were last here in Manila to do an ocular, and they really loved this dish so we were asked to present on it,” Segismundo explained.

“I think kinilaw is a great introductory dish to Philippine cuisine because it is unique to us,” she added.

They will present three versions of the kinilaw: the classic take on it using suka (vinegar), a modern version using cava and one using tabon-tabon.

Agriculture Usec Berna Romulo Puyat is curating the best of Philippine produce and products for Madrid Fusion 2015

It is not only the kinilaw that guests at Madrid Fusion will be exposed to, however.

As visitors enter, they will see a large Philippine booth showcasing the best of Philippine produce curated by Undersecretary Berna Romulo-Puyat of the Department of Agriculture. The booth will present Philippine products based on the five flavors of the Philippines: sweet, salty, sour, bitter and “linamnam” (our counterpart for umami).

These will include Philippine mangoes for the food category “Sweet”, chicharon for “Salty”, the Mindanao tropical fruit tabon-tabon for “Sour”, ampalaya for “Bitter” and heirloom rice such as Kalinga and Ifugao rice and taba ng talangka for “Linamnam”.

The booth will also present Filipino beverages such as Destileria Limtuaco’s Manille Liqueur, Philippine juices and tsokolate.

“This is a chance for the world to get to know Filipino ingredients like souring agents and heirloom rice,” Romulo-Puyat said.

This will be her fourth exhibition of Philippine products in Europe.

In 2013, she organized “Philippines, An Archipelago of Exchange” at the Musee du Quai Branly in Paris, where 10 Filipino chefs led by Fores impressed the French with their Pinoy cooking at the press luncheon and the cocktail reception for the French prime minister. In 2014, there was a Philippine booth at the Grünewoche International Green Week in Berlin in January; and another proudly Pinoy booth at the Slow Food Festival entitled Salone del Gusto in Turino, Italy in October.

“We want to show that the Philippines is not backward (in terms of produce and cuisine),” Romulo-Puyat explained. “In Paris, the French were initially skeptical with Filipino food but after tasting our food (as presented by Fores), they changed their minds. They said, ‘We didn’t know Filipinos have great food!’”

She is also very proud that in Berlin, with the Philippine booth placed between the booths of Japan and Korea, the longest queue was for the adobo with mangoes.

Madrid Fusion Manila

MADRID FUSION 2015. Madrid Fusion Manila. DOT Director Verna Buensuceso, Chef Margarita Fores, Chef Chele Gonzales, Tourism Secretary Mon Jimenez, Jr., Mielle Esteban and Iñigo Casado of Arum.
THE TEAM that made it happen: (From left) DOT Director Verna Buensuceso, Chef Margarita Fores, Chef Chele Gonzales, Tourism Secretary Mon Jimenez, Jr., Mielle Esteban and Iñigo Casado of Arum.

On the second day of Madrid Fusion, the Philippines will also launch Madrid Fusion Manila, which will be held from April 24-26 at SMX.

It is the first time that Madrid Fusion will be held in Asia—a brainchild of Tourism Secretary Mon Jimenez. Fores was the force who convinced the DOT to participate in Madrid Fusion, but when she enticed Sec. Jimenez to set up a Philippine booth at the expo, he said, “Let’s take it a step further. Why not invite them to hold Madrid Fusion here in the Philippines? After all, we have a story with them and a relationship that lasted 333 years!”

In Sept. 2014, this idea became reality when Sec. Jimenez and Spain’s Secretary of State for Trade and president of ICEX (Instituto Español de Comercio Exterior) Jaime García-Legaz signed a Memorandum of Understanding for Madrid Fusion Manila, with no less than President Benigno Aquino III standing as witness.

Tourism Director Verna Buensuceso is now diligently heading the project, with the help of Monette Iturralde-Hamlin of the Tourism Promotions Board.

Buensuceso stressed, “This is especially important as 2015 is Visit the Philippines year. We hope this will raise awareness about the Philippines and, as we present our products to both investors and gourmets, prove that the future of food is in the Philippines.”

Dining with the stars

#throwback Margarita Fores with El Bulli's Ferran Adria at Madrid Fusion 2007
#Throwback Margarita Fores with El Bulli’s Ferran Adria at Madrid Fusion 2007. Cut to 2015: Fores will be cooking at Hotel Ritz Madrid.

Aside from the exhibition, guests of Madrid Fusion (in Spain) are also given the opportunity to experience the cooking of guest chefs from around the world at participating restaurants and hotels in Madrid. Here is the breaking news: among the celebrity chefs cooking for Madrid Fusion 2015 are our very own  Segismundo and  Fores.

Segismundo will cook on Feb. 3 at the Hotel Orfila, a small palace from the 19th century, while Fores will cook at the highly acclaimed Goya Restaurant at Hotel Ritz Madrid on Feb. 4.

Right now, these two chefs are researching and practicing for this monumental event where they will present our flavors to the most discerning and acclaimed gourmets of the world.


This is definitely a milestone for Philippine cuisine that will certainly boost our tourism and agricultural industries. Our chefs are now poised to be called among those considered to be the best in the world and our produce and flavors are set to be recognized by a most discerning and influential international market.

Viva Madrid, Viva Manila!

For details on Madrid Fusion in Spain, please visit
For details on Madrid Fusion Manila, please visit and like their Facebook page Madrid Fusion Manila.