It’s April! It’s Filipino Food Month!

A legacy of the Duterte Administration that we in the food community are grateful for is the declaration of Filipino Food Month.

Since April 13, 2018, when President Rodrigo Roa Duterte signed Presidential Proclamation No. 469, we have been celebrating the month of April as National Filipino Food Month. This has been significant in promoting Filipino food both locally and internationally, bringing an awareness worldwide to what Filipino food is and rejuvenating the love for Filipino flavors here at home, including the desire to preserve our Filipino culinary heritage.

This April, we continue to celebrate National Filipino Food Month or, in Filipino, “Buwan ng Lutong Pilipino”. 

It has now become a collaborative effort led by the Philippine Culinary Heritage Movement alongside the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, the Department of Tourism and the Department of Agriculture.

The theme this year highlights Filipino food as a key to progress and change (“Pagkaing Pilipino, Susi sa Pag-unlad at Pagbabago”).

Chef Jam Melchor, who initiated the Filipino Food Month, explains the theme:  “The way we produce, distribute, choose, consume and preserve food significantly impacts our nation. Future scenarios will change significantly depending on how we relate to food.”

The festivities will start with face-to-face Opening Ceremonies on April 1 at the Metropolitan Theater. The Department of Agriculture will also have its own virtual launching on April 4 via their Facebook page.

One highlight of this year’s Filipino Food Month is a Culinary Cinema series that will showcase short films relating to Filipino food.

There will be screenings of the short films every Friday of the month at 2:00 p.m. via the page of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts while every Friday they will have short film “talkbacks”. There will also be the launch of Culinary Cinema Luzon on April 25; Culinary Cinema Visayas on April 18; and Culinary Cinema Mindanao on April 11. These will all be on the NCCA Facebook page.

Meanwhile the Filipino Food Month page will host “KainCon” sessions (short for ‘eating conference’, i.e. ‘kain’ means ‘to eat’ while ‘con’ is short for ‘conference’). The first session will be on how to grow your own food, to be held on April 7; the second one on preserving Filipino culinary traditions through gastro-diplomacy and tourism, to be held on April 12; the third one on innovations inspired by Filipino food history, to be held on April 14; the fourth one on starting a sustainable business, to be held on April 19; the fifth one on gastronomy as part of the Filipino cultural identity, to be held on April 21; the sixth one on the flavors of Muslim Mindanao, to be held on April 26; and the final one on a global perspective of preserving and promoting Filipino food traditions, to be held on April 28.

Schedule of Activities for the Filipino Food Month in the National Capital Region / Metro Manila

On the part of the Department of Agriculture, they will have a webinar series on High Value Crops (HVC).

This will open on April 11 at 9:00 a.m. via the Facebook page of the Department of Agriculture. They will also host a planting ceremony for inter-cropping of cofffee and cacao in coconut areas. There will be two webinars: one on April 12, tackling diversification in Philippine coconut areas, and another on April 13, on diversification in rice areas.

For those who simply love to eat, there will be a Filipino Food Festival at the Atrium of Shangri-la Plaza from April 22 to 24. For those who love to travel, you can look forward to the 21st World Travel and Tourism Council Global Summit – Fun Philippine Finds Pop-Up Store that will be at the Marriott Grand Ballroom in Pasay from April 20 to 22.

There will also be many regional events.

One of the highlights would be the Sustainable Diner Series hosted by the Department of Tourism – CALABARZON and the World Wildlife Fund. This will be via Zoom on April 6, 11, 13, 18 and 20. Iloilo stands out as well for their regional activities, with a food art/carving contest at the Robinson’s Main, Iloilo Fountain Area on April 13 and a Farmers’ Cooking Contest on April 14 at the Department of Agriculture lobby in Koronadal. Pampanga will also hold a Filipino Food Month cooking contest at their Department of Agriculture in San Fernando. Pampanga is also hosting an Innovative Food Product Contest in Angeles City. Meanwhile, there will also be several food festivals: Capiz will host a food festival called Food Trip sa Capiz at the Capiz Provincial Park on April 22; Palawan will host Hapag ng Pamana sa Palawan on April 30 at the Cacaoyan Forest Park and Restaurant, which may be viewed on the NCCA Facebook page; in Sta. Rosa, Laguna, you can visit Punsyunan: A Showcase of CALABARZON Cuisine at the Ayala Solenad in Nuvali; and in Cagayan de Oro, there will be a CDO Foodcrawl that those in the rest of the country can follow via the Facebook pages of Cagayan de Oro city.

It is truly an exciting culinary month! What a delicious April this will be! Congratulations in advance to the organizers and all involved. Yes, let us all celebrate Filipino food! Kain na!


For updates on Filipino Food Month events, follow the Filipino Food Month page:

Drink Like Monks and Saints

Margaux Salcedo | Inquirer Business | First Class

It’s October! And that means one thing for F&B connoisseurs and beer lovers: Oktoberfest!
Sadly, Oktoberfest was cancelled again this year. It was first cancelled in 2020 due to the pandemic. There were high hopes for its return this 2021 but in May it was announced that the 187th Oktoberfest, which should have taken place from September 18 to October 3 on the Theresienwiese in Munich, would also be cancelled.

The organizers explained: “The risk is simply too huge that people here could become infected with the Coronavirus.” They added: “Oktoberfest can only take place completely or not at all. Or, in one Bavarian sentence: ‘So a bissl Wiesn geht ned. (There’s no thing like a little bit of Wiesn.)”
In pre-pandemic Philippines, there would usually be beer festivals at various hotels, bars and pubs all over the metro the entire month of October. Sadly, all that is cancelled as well.

Oktoberfest 2013. Photo: Heribert Pohl | Wikimedia Commons

Beer connoisseurs

But no one is stopping us from drinking at home and celebrating with the people in our bubble or virtually. (For some of us, this is what has kept us sane every day!) So in the spirit of Oktoberfest, let’s make ourselves feel better with some good beer!
The operative word is ‘good’. We are not promoting mindless drinking here but an appreciation for the complexities and nuances of carefully thought out brews.

Strictly speaking, Oktoberfest revolves only around six breweries: Augustiner, Hofbräu, Hacker-Pschorr, Löwenbräu, Paulaner and Spaten. And there are clear specifications on beer quality: The festival beer must have an original gravity of at least 13.6%. The beer must be golden yellow, drinkable and full-bodied; and must have original wort percentage, alcohol content, bitterness and color. The Munich Purity Law of 1487 applies and the water must come from Munich deep wells, which reach into layers of the Tertiary period. Finally, brewing is only allowed in the territory of the city of Munich.

St Francis

In the Philippines, Paulaner is especially appreciated. And here’s some timely trivia as we celebrate the Feast of St Francis of Assisi tomorrow, October 4: Paulaner was named after St Francis of Paola, founder of the mendicant Order of Minims, whose friars of the Neudeck ob der Au cloister established the German brewery in Munich in 1634. St Francis of Paola, meanwhile, was named after St Francis of Assisi, as his parents asked St Francis of Assisi for intercession when they were trying to conceive and also later when he was in danger of losing his eyesight due to an illness.

The young Francis of Paola entered the friary of the Franciscan Order and later went with his parents on a pilgrimage to Assisi, after which he chose to live a life of solitude, living in a secluded cave. Later, in 1436, he was joined by two companions, which led to the foundation of the Hermits of Saint Francis of Assisi, which would eventually become the Order of Minims (O.M.). The Minim friars are known for their humility but also for their ‘fourth vow’: a Lenten way of life, which includes abstinence from meat and other animal products.

Perhaps this vow is what inspired some brothers of the order, i.e., the monks in the Neudeck ob der Au Monastery in Munich two hundred years later, to become creative and make exceptional beer!

Then whatever the monks did not drink, they would give to the poor. In 1634, the city council received complaints from other brewers about competition from the monastery. The date of this letter is considered the first documented evidence of the Paulaner Brewery and used as the founding date of the brewery.


Personally, though, with all respect and reverence for St Francis, my personal preference for beer is named after St Michael. I still love our good ol’ San Miguel Pale Pilsen (not Light!), proudly made in the Philippines!

And truth be told, I prefer dark beer over light. The best is still Guinness. And not from the bottle or from the can but draught! Guinness is an Irish dry stout that originated in the brewery of Arthur Guinness at St. James’s Gate, Dublin, Ireland, in 1759.

Since we cannot yet really travel as we used to, there is a good alternative here for dark beer lovers: Kozel. This is brewed in the village of Velké Popovice in the Czech Republic, just outside Prague, exactly where the first batch of Kozel was brewed in 1874. To this day, this beer is brewed the traditional Czech way, with select malts and the aromatic hop Premiant for a complex but well-balanced bitter and sweet taste. This is distributed in the Philippines by Don Revy (visit to order). It’s my favorite!

Whatever beer you choose to drink today, I hope it lifts your spirits! Let’s pray for the end of this pandemic and drink to that!

And as we remember his feast day tomorrow, let’s raise a glass as well to St Francis of Assisi and ask for his intercession to help us through this pandemic. Paulaner cheers! Prost!


Read as published in the Inquirer here:


Margaux Salcedo | First Class, Philippine Daily Inquirer, Inquirer Business, 19 September 2021

Margaux Salcedo | First Class | Inquirer Business | 19 September 2021 Sunday


Today is the Feast of Our Lady of Peñafrancia. A big, loud Happy Fiesta to all Bikolanos and devotees!

Technically, we can travel to Naga today, which is now under general community quarantine (GCQ), to celebrate with Bikolanos because it was announced that from September 16 to 30, with Metro Manila under GCQ, leisure travel from Metro Manila to areas under GCQ and modified GCQ would be allowed, subject to local government guidelines. But, given it is only point-to-point travel, you may be stuck in just your hotel upon arrival and miss the festivities anyway. So we will just celebrate the fiesta vicariously through food and prayers!


Our Lady of Peñafrancia is the patroness of Bicol, endearingly referred to by her local devotees as Ina (Mother).
Her original image is in Spain, at the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Peña de Francia, located on the Peña de Francia mountain in Salamanca. It is reportedly the world’s highest Marian sanctuary.

Our Lady of Peñafrancia

Its origins are unknown but in the 1400s, Simon Vela, a Parisian from a well-to-do family who gave up his inheritance to become a chamber boy in the convent of the Franciscans in Paris, journeyed to the distant and steep mountains of Peña de Francia in Salamanca after hearing instructions from the Blessed Virgin herself in a dream: “Go to Peña de Francia west of this country, and there you will find the shrine of the Blessed Virgin Mary”.

He embarked on the journey and, upon finding the location, contracted men from the nearby town of San Martin del Castañar to assist him, and with them found, on May 19, 1434, embedded among the rocks, the most coveted image of the Holy Virgin with the Child in her arms.

Then in 1712, a Spanish officer from Peña de Francia arrived in Cavite. His son, Miguel Robles de Covarrubias, studied as a seminarian at the University of Sto. Tomas. While he was a seminarian, he became seriously ill and prayed for healing through the intercession of Our Lady of Peña de Francia, clutching a photograph of her image and vowing to construct a chapel if cured. He was cured and even became a priest, was ordained in Naga, then called Ciudad de Nueva Caceres, and there fulfilled his promise to Our Lady. He also asked a local sculptor to carve an image patterned after the photo he had of Our Lady of Peña de Francia which he clutched while sick. After reports of many miracles, on September 20, 1924, Pope Pius XI granted the image a canonical coronation. This image may be found today at the Minor Basilica of Our Lady of Peñafrancia in Naga.

Peñafrancia Festival

The Peñafrancia Festival is a huge celebration in Bicol, with millions of devotees and tourists alike participating. It has extended beyond religion to become a true celebration of life for Bikolanos of all faiths, with concerts, parades, triathlons, etc. It has also been acknowledged to be the largest annual Marian pilgrimage in Asia.

This year, though, due to the pandemic, the festivities will be more solemn than festive, with online masses instead. Of course, when there is a fiesta, there must be an abundance of food. So since we can’t travel, let’s do the next best thing and join in the fiesta today by cooking some of these famous Bicolano dishes even as we stay home:

Tinutungang Manok. This is my personal favorite of all Bikolano dishes. On a trip to Albay, I got to watch Colonial Grill’s Chef Jeric Llandelar make this and he explained that the coconut meat (sapal) is cooked in a cauldron until it is toasted or resembles ‘tutong’ (burnt rice). He advised to make sure that it is not burned black or it will be bitter instead of smokey. Once toasted, water is added to make gata or coconut soup. This becomes the Tinutungang Gata, which creates the cream for the stew. The unique thing about this is that it has a smokey flavor. This is then added to the chicken then served with slices of either green papaya or green saba bananas. A truly elegant dish even if I first tried it at the very casual 1st Colonial Grill.

Adobo sa Gata. The quintessential Pinoy dish but with a Bikolano twist! The Bikolano version uses coconut milk and siling labuyo. You simple braise the meat in the traditional adobo marinade but finish off with coconut milk. The result is a creamier adobo with a spicy bite. Quite festive!

The glorious Mt. Mayon and Bicol delicacies: Tinutungang Manok, Kandingga (Bopis), Kinunot na Pagi, Pinangat, Gulay na Dahon ng Kamoteng Kahoy.

Laing. In some areas, this is called Pinangat na Gabi. The original Bikolano version of this does not use shredded but a whole taro leaf, called natong by some. A mixture of pre-cooked cubed pork, shrimp, or fish flakes, plus crushed chili (siling labuyo), shallots, ginger, and shrimp paste (bagoong alamang) is wrapped in the taro leaf and tied with lemongrass (tanglad). It is then steamed in coconut milk until the leaf pouches are fork tender and the gata is reduced to a thick sauce. Now, though, we are more used to the shredded gabi version, so that will work for today’s festivities, too!

Ginataang Dahon ng Kamoteng Kahoy or Young Yuka Leaves in Coconut Milk. This is a fairly simple vegetable dish, though one may add pork belly or tinapa, that involves, yet again, just cooking the ingredients in coconut milk and adding siling labuyo. This would be perfect with steaming hot white rice.

Kinunot na Pagi or Spicy Stingray in Coconut Milk. This is really just a fish coconut stew but if you don’t know how to clean the stingray well, leave it to the professionals or it may have a stench. But otherwise, it is a true delicacy!

Sili Ice Cream. When one visits Bicol, you can’t leave without trying the Sili Ice Cream. As usual, it has coconut milk and – yes, even in ice cream – siling labuyo. What an experience. At first bite, you think it is regular ice cream then two second later, the chili creeps in to surprise if not shock you.

There are so many more Bikolano dishes, they won’t fit on this page. Perhaps with the guidance of Our Lady of Peñafrancia, you will find them! If Simon Vela found the buried image of Our Lady in the distant terrains of Peña de Francia, on the side of an uninhabited mountain, I’m sure you can easily find a Bikolano recipe to your liking to celebrate and honor Ina with devotees and Bikolanos!

Happy Fiesta once again to everyone in Bicol and to all Bikolanos around the world. May our faith in the Lord, strengthened by our devotion to Ina, get us through this pandemic. While we can’t gather in person today, we certainly will have the Peñefrancia Festival once again – hopefully next year!

In the meantime, we celebrate life and all blessings, big or small, everyday! Dios Mabalos!


Happy Mother’s Day, Mom!

Since today is Mother’s Day, I would like to pay tribute to my mother, the gorgeous Wonderwoman – Carmelita “Baby” Vargas Salcedo. I will share a few kitchen stories about her, also to encourage our readers to share kitchen stories of their own mothers on social media so we can celebrate moms everywhere! (Do tag me @margauxsalcedo and Inquirer @inquirerbiz and add the hashtag #firstclassmom – I would love to read your stories!)

Like many of you, my parents were my first kitchen mentors. It was my
mother who taught me how to tell if meat is cooked (fork it); how to
tell if fish is cooked (watch the color); how to make meat tender
(adjust the level of fire); and how to make traditional hot chocolate
from scratch.

Mothers are the living embodiment of love: my mom, Carmelita ‘Baby’ Salcedo.


Our first major project together was Nana Meng Tsokolate, an effort to
share with the world the joy of experiencing hot chocolate as we know
it in Bulacan. While she gives me full credit, this brand is really
not just mine but our baby, a tribute to my grand aunt, Nana Meng, and
to the culinary traditions of my maternal hometown, Sta.Maria,

We make the tsokolate from scratch: we roast the beans, de-shell them,
grind them to a paste (the Bulacan tsokolate texture is like paste,
not the tablea kind), then bottle and cook. Our first Christmas
selling the products, we did not expect the deluge of orders. Since we
were literally just five persons working on the tsokolate, including
my mom and myself, we worked 24/7 to meet the orders.

It was then that I witnessed one of my mother’s superpowers: sleeping
while standing! I caught her at 5 am with her eyes closed but still
standing and holding the rolling pin in her hands, ready to de-shell
the cacao! It’s true: mothers have the superpower of sleeping while


Another superpower of my mother – probably like your mother – is
negotiating. While sourcing for materials in Divisoria, I saw a
container I wanted to purchase. At this time, my mom was at another
stall. I listened to the prices that the vendor was giving other
customers. He was giving it it to them at P120. When they left, I
haggled with the vendor and he gave the product to me at P100. I
walked away and told my mom about the item I wanted to buy. Then she
went to the vendor while I waited at a nearby stall. She haggled and
haggled and got the vendor to bring the price down to P60!! Talk about
negotiating skills! Later, walking past the vendor with my mom, I
confronted the vendor, “Bakit sa kaniya binigay mo ng P60 sa akin sabi
mo P100?” (Why did you give the product to her at P60 but you priced
it for me at P100?). The vendor could not do anything but smile
sheepishly and scratch his head!

Now that is our strategy when we shop. I do the initial haggling while
she hides; and afterwards, I hide and she goes in for the win!

In the spirit of preserving our culinary heritage, calling on all mothers to write down their family recipes like these mothers of Bulacan: Bernadette, Carmelita, Socorro.


Preserving Heritage

We had the honor of contributing to the sequel of Amy Besa’s Memories
of Philippine Kitchens so my mom and I had to submit a recipe for our
family’s dinuguan, which Amy loved. The problem is that heirloom
recipes in the Philippines are mostly passed on orally, without
written documentation. So I had to translate my notes from our cooking
session with Ka Tage, one of the lola cooks in Bulacan who cooked the
dinuguan excellently.

I will never forget laughing our heads off as we tried to translate
the first step, as Ka Tage explained: “Linisin ang taenga ng baboy”
(Clean the pig’s ears). In the end, we decided to keep it

As we made this recipe, we realized the importance of preserving
family recipes. Because you don’t want those recipes and yummy dishes
to disappear when those who you relied on to cook them pass away.

My mother, in her own quiet way, is preserving our culinary traditions
by keeping index cards of various recipes, a habit she formed before
the advent of computers. (Does your mother have recipes in index
cards, too? I have a few friends who tell me their mothers are also
record their recipes that way!) She is very studious with her
documentation and who knows, maybe someday soon she might even have
her own cookbook! So here’s a shout out to all mothers out there to
preserve yours and your family recipes, for your children and the
generations to come!

Food for the Soul

More than food, my mother has fattened me up with food for the soul.

Aside from imbibing in us the rich traditions of her faith, complete
with attending fiesta processions and other traditions, my sister
Goldee and I have been lucky to have a mother who has been diligent in
teaching values that are important, regardless of religion: truth,
honesty, generosity, respect for elders, humility, kindness,

Most of all, my mother has been a living example of love: she is
patient, kind, understanding, caring, present. As much as I love food,
I have to admit that these are more important than the family heirloom

So today, we cheer with gratitude for our mothers. May you keep
getting better at your job and may you pass on wisdom, love, recipes
and a state of grace to the generations to come!

Happy Mother’s Day!


See the story as publisher in the Inquirer at this link –

Le Cordon Bleu Rises at the Ateneo

As you might have heard, Le Cordon Bleu, the legendary culinary institute, has partnered with Ateneo de Manila and to open Le Cordon Bleu Ateneo de Manila at the Arete, a new building at the Loyola Heights campus of the Ateneo branded as their “creative hub”. This seems to be Ateneo’s response to Enderun College’s Alain Ducasse Institute; Dusit Hospitality Management College’s partership with Institut Paul Bocuse; and De La Salle University – College of St. Benilde’s culinary arts, hospitality management and entrepreneurship courses. Of course in true Ateneo fashion, the Blue Eagles are quick to share why this school would be “the best”. This time, though, the bragging rights are well-earned.

Arete. The new home of Le Cordon Bleu Manila

The history of Le Cordon Bleu alone is worth taking pride in.
I am happy to highlight, first and foremost, a fact that Le Cordon Bleu International president and CEO Andre Cointreau, in my interview with him at the newly opened school in Arete, emphasized: that their founder was a woman.
“Le Cordon Bleu was created by a woman, who could have been a nun; she was unmarried.” Cointreau noted. “She thought it was unfair that women could not be trained in the culinary field, that although they were cooking for their families, it was still a macho world for hotels and restaurants. She was really dedicated to the idea of training women.”
The woman is Marthe Distel, a journalist and publisher (!). She started the culinary magazine La Cuisinière Cordon Bleu. To increase readership, Distel offered subscribers cooking lessons with professional chefs, with the first class held in January 1895 in the kitchens of the Palais Royal. These classes later on became a more formal school, Le Cordon Bleu.
Later the school became known not only for training women but for training an international audience of aspiring chefs who wanted to master the art of cooking using French techniques. Cointreau notes that their first international student was from Russia, in 1978; a few years later, in 1905, they had their first Japanese student. One of their most notable graduates is the legendary Julia Child, an American lady who studied at Le Cordon Bleu Paris in 1948 and authored the book Mastering the Art of French Cooking before becoming a television personality in the USA.

Marthe Distel, Le Cordon Bleu founder. Photo:

Today, there are 30 Le Cordon Bleu institues around the world, each making a dent in the local culinary scene.
In London, Cointreau shared proudly, Le Cordon Bleu prepared the Coronation luncheon for Queen Elizabeth II in January 1953. And just last 2017, Le Cordon Bleu London was asked to recreate the 9-foot tall, 250-kilo Royal Wedding Cake wedding cake of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip for the documentary A Very Royal Wedding.

Coronation Menu of Queen Elizabeth by Le Cordon Bleu London. Photo:

In Thailand, Le Cordon Bleu Dusit became the first culinary school to be accredited by their Ministry of Education, teaching a comprehensive professional Thai Cuisine curriculum with more than 200 recipes of traditional, regional, royal and modern contemporary Thai dishes.
In Japan, Le Cordon Bleu has offered a special bursary program, developed as an official project by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries of Japan for the Promotion of Japanese Cuisine & Food Culture.

Local Flavors, French Techniques

Cointreau emphasizes that what they teach are French techinques, not just French recipes; and students are encouraged to explore local flavors.
He acknowledges that in each country, one must also explore a nation’s culinary history and traditions. Just as in France, where each region and even certain families are recognized for their heritage recipes, so must it be for each country.
But Le Cordon Bleu is on a mission to codify not only recipes but also cooking techniques that are somehow being lost as the world evolves. By learning and codifying these techniques around the world, Cointreau emphasizes, “we are at the service of the culinary arts of tomorrow.”
“We come not only with recipes but with a grid of training even before a student learns recipes,” Cointreau explains. So a Le Cordon Bleu graduate would be able to demonstrate not only memorized recipes but also the technical skills needed to compete and thrive in the culinary world.

Julia Child at Le Cordon Bleu Paris. Photo:

“But why did you partner with Ateneo, of all the schools in the Philippines?” I asked Cointreau. The Le Cordon Bleu International president and CEO explained that it’s because of their shared values of “integrating a true mastery of crafstmanship with enhancing and shaping the characters and  competencies of (their students).”
He has also become good friends with Fr. Nebres (the longest serving president of Ateneo de Manila) and loves that Ateneo focuses not only on educational excellence but also on the development of character and values, as well as the importance and joy of spreading the message of Christ to the underprivileged. He notes that the founder of Le Cordon Bleu also valued not only excellence and empowerment but also charity as she in fact left Le Cordon Bleu to an orphanage when she died in the 1930s (the school was later bought by another woman, Élisabeth Brassart.)
The LCB Network
More than its history, however, Cointreau shares that the advantage of Le Cordon Bleu over all other schools is its incredible global network of multi-awarded chefs and educators.
“We are probably the only one to have such an international network. We have been around for so long; we are accredited in more than 10 countires. Not only are we accredited but we can exchange our teachers, programs, internships,” Cointreau stressed.
Chef Theirry Le Baut, Technical Director of Le Cordon Blue Ateneo de Manila, shares his personal experience on this advantage: “There are a lot of us chefs (in Le Cordon Bleu) in different countries, in different parts of France, and all of us worked either in a big restaurant or a Michelin-starred restaurant so we have the combined experiences of different chefs from around the world. So if we want to know about a technique, we can just reach out to each other; I can go to Japan or London and stay there for 15 days to see their new techniques and recipes, or they can come to the Philippines. We work together and try to find the best techniques to teach our students. For me, this is what makes Le Cordon Bleu unique.”

Margaux Salcedo with Chef Thierry Le Baut, Technical Director of Le Cordon Bleu Ateneo de Manila
Margaux Salcedo with Chef Thierry Le Baut, Technical Director of Le Cordon Bleu Ateneo de Manila

But he also emphasizes that their strength is in giving each student the skills to be excellent in cooking using French techniques. “French technique is the most important in the world,” Le Baut says. “You can cook Peruvian cuisine or Thai cuisine using French techniques.”
The school then give each student all the tools they would need for cooking “the French way”: a set of knives, thermometer, pans, etc. (Students can go home with this set and keep the tools for life.) “Each student has his own work station where the student is personally guided by the professor as he learns each recipe. And everything is precise, down to the measurement of millimeters and temperatures, whether it be for a potato that must be 6 cm in size and 50 grams, or fish that must be cooked only up to 54 degrees, no more. “It must be perfect all the time,” Le Baut stresses.
Liza Hernandez-Morales, Institute Director at Le Cordon Bleu Ateneo de Manila, shares that the school now offers two courses: Bachelor of Science in Restaurant Entrepreneurship and Diploma in Cuisine. The Diploma in Cuisine has 3 programs or phases: Basic, Intermediate and Superior, with each course running 3 months.

Andre Cointreau, President & CEO of Le Cordon Bleu International with Chef Thierry Le Baut, Technical Director of Le Cordon Bleu Ateneo.

Here’s the Ateneo challenge, though: all applicants must pass the Ateneo Collegel Entrance exam. But once you graduate, you will receive two diplomas: one from the Ateneo and another from Le Cordon Bleu.
Now you can be an eagle that is not only blue but Le Cordon Bleu!

Clockwise: Margaux Salcedo with Andre Cointreau, President of Le Cordon Bleu International and his son Charles Cointreau, VP of Le Cordon Bleu. Andre and Charles Cointreau with Le Cordon Blue Ateneo Institute Director Liza Hernandez-Morales. Margaux Salcedo with Le Cordon Bleu Ateneo Technical Director Thierry Le Baut.

Salonga Siblings Launch Annual Laguna Food & Cultural Heritage Festival

Well, actually they launched it in 2017, hehehe. This is the second year of the event. But it was my first time to attend.

And the Salonga siblings are not Lea and Gerard. It’s Chef Theodore Day Salonga of Ted’s Kitchen and Chef Gel Salonga of Ted’s Cakes & Pastries.

The two have become regional tourism advocates and on their own, without national government support, put together Sa Pantalan: Biyaheng Katagalugan, A Food & Culinary Heritage Festival showcasing the best of Laguna.

Sa Pantalan – Biyaheng Pangkatagalugan: A Food and Cultural Heritage Festival (Photo: Arlene Hidalgo)

The Salongas hail from Sta. Cruz, Laguna. A couple of years ago, their dad, Ted himself, developed their family-owned compound to house a bed and breakfast with 7 cottages. So now, aside from Ted’s Kitchen and Ted’s Bakery, they also have Ted’s Bed & Breakfast.

Ted’s Bed & Breakfast

Clockwise: Chef Theodore Day Salonga of Ted’s Kitchen with Chef Dino Datu, EIC of Cook Magazine; Ted’s Bed & Breakfast nook; Chef Dino Datu with Cook’s Marlon Aldenese and Maggie Silvestre; pick-me-up quotes like this are found around the compound.

Coming into the tourism industry, the siblings decided that it would be best if they also helped promote their artisan neighbors. So in 2017, Sa Pantalan was born. Pantalan means “dock”, because, according to Theodore, Sta. Cruz, Pila Pagsanjan and Lumban used to be pre-Hispanic tradings docks, very important locations for trade during the Spanish era. The title also references a journey of discovery through Laguna’s coastal towns, with Sta. Cruz being the central port.

I finally got to see the annual event this year and loved getting to know Laguna artists. This is Renel Batralo (photo below). He and Cesar Pasco design bags and homeware using water lilies.

ted's 9 straw art
Renel Batralo

Pantalan founder/creator Gel Salonga with fiancee Chef Dino Datu modeling waterlily bags by Sarilikha.

Aside from the bags by Sarilikha, there were other straw bags as well.

Micky Fenix, Luisiana bags, Laguna, Philippines, Philippine crafts, Philippines bags, local bags, Philippines tourism, Gel Salonga, Ted's Kitchen, Margaux Salcedo
Straw bags by Luisiana, modeled by the effervescent food writer and guru Micky Fenix.

Laguna is also known for woodworks, specifically form the towns of Paete, Pangil and Pakil, as well as for making the Barong Tagalog, from the town of Lumban, so of course there were such products on display.

ted's 8 wood trees
Love these wooden Christmas trees by Laguna carvers!! Perfect for condo-living Christmas!

At the annex were sculptures and other art. Most interesting was the religious art by Bayani Acala from Paete, who made sculptures of the Sacred Heart.

Artists of Sa Pantalan, Biyaheng Katagalugan. Top: Lito Ballaran, a watercolor artist from San Pablo, Laguna. Bottom: Bayani Acala, artist from Paete, Laguna.

It was also cool to meet Che Abrigo, the owners of the first zero-waste cafe in Laguna. She also makes all these uniquely flavored flours.

Che Abrigo

The festival also had on display Laguna delicacies like espasol, puto with salted duck eggs, bibingka, and Chef Ted’s own Bitbit line which includes Sta. Cruz longganisa. I realized from this trip that Laguna is not that far. You can be there in less than two hours.

There’s also a lot to see. Almost each town has an old church. Chef Dino recommends the ones in Pakil, Pila and Nagcarlan. You can also do trekking and swim by the waterfalls in Majayjay and Cavinti. There is an underground river in Cavinti. Caliraya offers water sports. And for those who just want to shop, you can find handwoven barongs in Lumban, footwear in Liliaw and woodcraft in Paete.

For an authentic Laguna heritage meal, try Aurora’s. It is also Chef Theodore Day’s restaurant, with Chef Gel’s desserts, located in the Salonga ancestral home. Aurora is their grandmother. Don’t miss this stop; it’s a great introduction to their regional cuisine.

Thanks, Day, Dino & Gel, for making us realize that there is sooo much to see in Laguna! Sa uulitin!


5 Ways the Dialog Oven Will Change Cooking Forever

Miele's Dialog Oven. Photo by Philippine food writer Margaux Salcedo for

When Miele says that their latest creation, the Dialog Oven, is revolutionary, they are not exaggerating.

Here are 5 ways the Dialog Oven will change cooking forever:

1. Food will now be cooked using energy penetrating it all throughout, all at the same time, unlike current ovens where heat struggles from outside the ingredient to its center

Miele uses something called Volumetric Cooking. As opposed to the traditional ovens where heat makes its way from the outside of the item being cooked, making its way to the center of the ingredient, the Dialog Oven, using very intelligent antennae has energy penetrating the item being cooked from all around and all throughout the ingredient.

This means that the outside of the ingredient – be it meat or vegetables or whatever other food – will not have its outer layers melt or burn before its center or the inside of the ingredient is cooked.

So no more worrying about food that is too hot on the inside yet still raw or freezing in the center.

To demonstrate the technology at the world premiere, Miele placed a piece of fish inside a block of ice with walls (of ice) over an inch thick.

Miele Dialog Oven world premiere demo

Wonder of wonders, the fish inside the ice was cooked – without the ice melting!


2. Various ingredients like vegetables and meat will no longer have to be cooked separately.

Miele Dialog Oven world premiere demo of cooking salmon. Photo by Margaux Salcedo for at the premiere also demonstrated how a) one piece of fish can be cooked just one side, without touching the other side; and b) various ingredients like veal and vegetables can be cooked at the same time.

Salmon slices were placed in the oven, half covered in foil. After the plugged in amount of time, the part wrapped in foil remained raw, just thawed out properly, ready to be eaten ceviche-style; and the other half was fully cooked. And properly cooked at that.

I always have that problem with cooking fish wherein the inside is raw while the outside is already overcooked. The Miele Dialog Oven will change that! Again, because of the volumetric technology – cooking is no longer down from the outside going in but all throughout all at once.

3. Soggy food will be a thing of the past

Two frozen cakes. One was placed in a microwave oven to thaw; another was placed in the Dialog Oven. The one placed in the microwave oven melted (picture below, cake on the right). The one placed in the Dialog oven came out just perfect, as if it was just freshly made (picture below, left).

Also, recall how the fish in the ice block was cooked without melting the ice at all. The Dialog Oven is so smart that it detects the item that it needs to cook and has the capacity to ignore the ice.

That’s M Chef technology for you!

4. No more need to constantly check if your meat is cooking properly.

As demonstrated, you just need to plug in the kind of meat, weight, and preferred doneness … and the machine will think about the rest for you!

The veal that was served to us, cooked in the Dialog Oven wrapped in beeswax, was a perfect medium. So tender, so delicious.

5. Millennials rejoice! You can cook using your mobile phone.

Sonja Celik, product manager of the Dialog Oven, explained to me that there is now also a Miele Recipe App. This has hundreds of developed recipes; as well as the possibility of uploading new recipes. Then with just a touch of the “Send to Appliance” button, all the details will be sent to the Dialog Oven, and once your ingredients are the oven, just press and play!

Just like that, dinner is served.

Isn’t it truly revolutionary?


MISSION: MANILA features Chef Tatung

Mission: Manila, a passion project of mine to promote Filipino chefs, is back, this time featuring Chef Myke Tatung Sarthou.

Chef Tatung, as he is fondly called, is chef-owner of Restaurant Agos in Mall of Asia, a bestselling cookbook author on Filipino food, and the resident chef of the morning show Umagang Kay Ganda.

I was won over by Tatung’s cooking when I ate at his first restaurant, Chef Tatung, in Quezon City. I was one of the first to write about the place, with a review in the Inquirer’s Sunday Inquirer Magazine.

Cut to ten years later and he is among the world’s greatest chefs, speaking at no less than the auditorium of Madrid Fusion!

He is also the first chef to do a four hands dinner in Madrid with renowned Spanish chef Mario Sandoval. (Sandoval did a four hands dinner in Manila at the Peninsula with Chef Myrna Segismundo at the first Madrid Fusion.)

I though, how sad that Filipinos would not be able to taste what Tatung served in Spain.

Fortunately, he agreed to do a revival of that menu.

It’s happening on Tuesday. 🙂


Margaux at Mireio: Chateau Giscours & Chateau Du Tertre for the Commanderie de Bordeaux

Chateau Du Tertre at the Margaux at Mireio dinner of the Commanderie de Bordeaux hosted by Gigi Montinola

I had the pleasure last Friday of attending a gathering of the Commanderie de Bordeaux entitled ‘Margaux at Mireio’, a beautiful dinner prepared by Mireio Chef Nicolas Gretin paired with Margaux Grand Cru Classe wines Chateau Giscours and Chateau du Tertre.

The Commanderie de Bordeaux is an international organization of wine lovers founded in Bordeaux, France with chapters in major cities of the world, now including Manila, Philippines.

Chef Cyrille Soenen, Mireio Chef Nicolas Gretin, Chateau Giscours and Chateau Du Tertre Alex van Beek, Commanderie De Bordeaux President Aurelio Gigi Montinola
Margaux at Mireio. Right to left: Commanderie de Bordeaux’s Le Maitre or The Master and founding commandeur Gigi Montinola, guest of honor Alexander van Beek, director general of Chateau Giscours and Chateau Du Tertre, Mireio Chef Nicolas Gretin, Maîtres Cuisiniers de France Chef Cyrille Soenen

I attended as guest of current Commanderie Le Maitre (The Master) and one of the original commandeurs, Mr Aurelio ‘Gigi’ Montinola (former President of BPI). “I thought of you because the dinner tonight is all about Margaux,” he said very generously to this Commanderie first timer.


Left side, L-R: Jimmy Panganiban, Margaux Salcedo, Gigi Montinola. Right side, seated (R-L): Ernest Cu, Arlene Cu, Alexander van Beek of Chateau Giscours and Chateau Du Tertre, Chef Cyrille Soenen ... Chateau Giscours, Chateau Du Tertre, Grand Cru Classe Margaux at Mireio, Raffles Makati
Commandeurs and guests. Left side, L-R: Jimmy Panganiban, Margaux Salcedo, Gigi Montinola. Right side, seated (R-L): Ernest Cu, Arlene Cu, Alexander van Beek of Chateau Giscours and Chateau Du Tertre, and French Master Chef Cyrille Soenen. (Sorry did not meet the guests at other end of the table!)

The guest of honor was Alexander van Beek, Director-General of Chateau Giscours and Chateau Du Tertre, who flew in all the way from Bordeaux.

Mr Alexander van Beek, Directeur Général, Chateau Giscours and Chateau Du Tertre with Commanderie de Bordeaux president and one of the original commandeurs Mr Aurelio 'Gigi' Montinola
Mr Alexander van Beek, Directeur Général, Chateau Giscours and Chateau Du Tertre with Mr Aurelio ‘Gigi’ Montinola, Le Maitre de la Commanderie de Bordeaux aux Philippines


The evening began with cocktails at the romantic Mireio terrace. Even past sunset, the terrace is beautiful – that view! And we were lucky the weather was just perfect. Guests “warmed up” for a night of wine appreciation in the unusually chilly Manila weather with Ayala champagne and salmon hors d’oeuvres.

Then it was time for the real thing: check out this menu.

Note that the first two bottles are 2009 vintage and the last two bottles are from ten years earlier.

2009 has a reputation of being an excellent year for Bordeaux wines – evidence that the commandeurs really know their wines! And while 1999 was a shadow vintage (I will explain later), 2000 was likewise an excellent year.

Margaux at Mireio. Chateau Giscours, Chateau Du Tertre wines for the Commanderie de Bordeaux.
THE Menu for Margaux at Mireio. Gigi Montinola had to approve this menu by Mireio Chef Nicolas Gratin paired with vintages of Chateau Giscours and Chateau Du Tertre chosen by Director General Alexander van Beek. But how can one disagree?


Du Tertre, Alex explained, means “little hill” or “hillock” (Google translates it to “the mound”; Wikipedia says “tertre” means a hilllock or rising ground). As such, it is an ideal location to make wine because the elevated parts allow for better drainage but also better exposure, resulting in wine with texture that is soft without sacrificing depth.

Alex, who is Dutch, on the mic shared an inside joke that the owners personally like this location not just because of the resulting excellent wine but because atop the hills is where the Dutch can “look down” on the French (that was a joke made in loving jest, of course – the Dutch loved the wine so much they purchased the chateau!).

Here is a quick Wiki on how Chateau du Tertre was acquired by a Dutch family:

“Le Tertre (or Du Tertre) passed through the ownership of the Arrérac family and Marquis de Ségur until the 1855 classification. When the estate was owned by Charles Henri, Le Tertre hold a good reputation and was in demand on the Dutch market.[1] It was sold to Henri de Koenigswarter in 1870 under whose ownership Le Tertre’s reputation increased further … in 1961 Château du Tertre was acquired by Philippe Gasqueton, who restored the vineyards and château with the backing of Belgian business partners. Following Gasqueton’s death in 1995 his widow sold the property to Eric and Louise Albada Jelgersma, owners of the neighbouring estate Château Giscours.

And from the Chateau Du Tertre website:

In 1997, a Dutch businessman, Eric Albada Jelgersma bought the estate and invested in the large-scale overall restructuring, thus returning its noble personality to the Chateau du Tertre.

Chateau Du Tertre at the Margaux at Mireio dinner of the Commanderie de Bordeaux hosted by Gigi Montinola
Chateau Du Tertre. Spelling looks like “Duterte” but it’s pronounced like ‘daughter’ in French-Bisaya accent: “Du-ter”, as in “my du-ter Sara” – hehe! Plus a very soft T in the end.

As I mentioned earlier, we started with a 2009, comparing this to the Chateau Giscours of the same vintage.

The 2009 Du Terte was easy to appreciate with its soft texture, good nose and a spiciness in the end attributed to the higher content (vs other labels) of Cabernet Franc which, in Alex’s words, “adds freshness and energy to the wine”.

For the main course of pan seared duck, a 2000 Du Tertre was served, which had the same definitive bouquet and spice notes that hit the roof of your mouth though this vintage is more creamy and tannined. I would buy a case of this for a holiday family dinner.


This 2009 Du Tertre was compared to the 2009 Chateau Giscours, whose estate is located just beside Chatea Du Tertre.

My two seatmates – Gigi Montinola and Jimmy Panganiban – and I were all more drawn to the Giscours. (Nothing to do with the label sounding like the name of the incumbent president.) After Alex described the Giscours, I understood why: it is because the ’09 Giscours – in Alex’s words – is “INTELLECTUAL”! Hmmm!

What does that mean?! I asked. It meets our IQ requirements?  Alex explained: It means that while it is not as easygoing and immediately enjoyable as the Du Tertre, its complexity makes it more appealing. In other (Alex’s) words, the Du Tertre is the girl who is immediately likeable while the Giscours is the one you appreciate more as you get to know her better – like moi! a real Margaux! CHAROT! Haha!

Beef carpaccio consomme by Chef Nicolas Gretin for Margaux at Mireio
Beef carpaccio consomme by Chef Nicolas Gretin. Guests were impressed by the unique combination of consomme with a carpaccio while Alex van Beek, Dir. Gen of Chateau Giscours, expressed how he appreciated the soup with 2009 Giscours.

But the most appealing drink of the night for me (and my most esteemed seatmates) was the 1999 Giscours. It was just so beautifully balanced, so refined and elegant. Alex says the wine “dances on the palate”. – I’m not quite sure what that meant but I am guessing the wine comes alive in your mouth. What he said that I did understand is that this vintage of Giscours – although 1999 was not as exceptional a year as 2000 for Bordeaux in general and therefore called a ‘shadow vintage’ – has “perfect harmony”. That was easy to understand; it was immediately evident 🙂

“With this wine,” Alex said, “You will understand what Margaux is about.”

I definitely went home with a better understanding of Margaux, and an eagerness – a thirst – to learn even more! I’ve heard this said about me I didn’t realize it also applies to the wines – you really can’t get enough of Margaux!  😉 😉 😉


Margaux at Mireio. Gigi Montinola welcomes the Commanderie de Bordeaux for an evening with Chateau Giscours and Chateau Du Tertre, Margaux
Commanderie de Bordeaux Le Maitre Gigi Montinola welcomes the commandeurs (and their ‘commanders’ aka wives – it is a predominantly male association) and guests for an evening of Chateau Giscours and Chateau Du Tertre

Restaurant Alert: Chef Ariel Manuel Takes Over Poblacion with Bistro Manuel

Remember Lolo Dad’s? Once upon a time THE fine dining restaurant of Manila? 

Chef Ariel Manuel went MIA after Lolo Dad’s at 6750 and the original Lolo Dad’s on Quirino closed. He dabbled in an Asian resto on N Garcia/Reposo but that was short-lived. 

So it is great news for Ariel Manuel fans and fine dining lovers that – as Teddy Locsin Jr calls him – The Master is back. 

I had a Teddylicious dinner with my two favorite Teddys on Halloween: newly appointed Ambassador to the UN, His Excellency Teddy Locsin Jr and one of Manila’s most respected food writers Teddy Montelibano. I served as referee as the conversation ball swung from staunchly pro-Duterte to stubbornly anti between the two!

Like a beautiful symphony, Chef Ariel had us from the first note: a tray of his latest indulgent hors d’ouvres – oysters – each still lying in its shell but now on a cushion of angel hair pasta, baked in cheese and topped with pan seared foie gras. Manuel credits his son for this creation. 

Next, what the chef calls Elements of Duck: duck liver mousse, pan seared duck liver, poached duck egg, slices of duck breast … all on homemade waffles whose sweetness is just enough to balance the savoriness of the duck. 

All that was before the best bisque in town was served, which TBL noted is unlike other bisques that are bland or cloying. 

Then, in French fine dining fashion, after the soup came the fish course. But instead of fish, we indulged in crab cakes and soft shell crabs. 

But the lambs that followed really blew us away. 

First, lamb on lamb on lamb: lamb rump accompanied by lamb breast and sweetbread. In TBL’s words: Mama Mia!! This was accompanied by truffled mashed potatoes, daintily curved on the side. The lamb breast (it is hidden in this pic) was so soft and succulent it was almost like eating pork belly!

But the piece de resistance was the rack of lamb. Two huge cuts cooked perfectly – not gamey at all – with a side of blue cheese risotto. 

This really brings you back to Lolo Dad’s days. 

Nowadays, chefs are inclined to go by way of what the World’s 50 Best trends dictate: lots of drama, lots of talk of going local or going back to nature, yada yada yada. That some chefs forget what cuisine is about – food! 

Chef Ariel Manuel reminds us of the days when dining was more about eating than just appreciating art. Sooo happy he is back!

Desserts have been inspired by wife Mia: 

A tiramisu souffle with a side of chocolate mousse. Like I said over dessert – I would be happy even with just the chocolate mousse! 

And the Mango and Mascarpone Cheese Declension, a vertical mille feuille – TBL observed, “stacked like dominos” – accompanied by dulce de leche and topped with caramelized sugar that may inspire another Tessa Prieto Valdes hat. 

On the way out we checked out The Sippery, just below the restaurant. Here’s a Halloween toast to my dad Ephraim Salcedo – missing him dearly this All Souls Day and as the Christmas holidays approach. 

After that A-game dinner, we were so devilishly happy on the way home 😈

Duterte, Marcos, Cory? Sex, Peace and Love? Happy Halloween!

Bistro Manuel is on Valdez St in Poblacion. From Makati Ave approaching JP Rizal, turn right on Valdez which is street of BPI across A Venue. Suuuper limited parking for now – but two cars can fit right in front of their building. And a couple more slots are available on the street. 

Note that Valdez is one way so you need to come in via Makati Ave. 

For now, cash basis only. But they are working on the credit card machine and an additional 10 slots for basement parking. 

Bistro Manuel. Six Axis Center, Valdez St, Poblacion, Makati. Open daily for lunch and dinner. Reservations recommended +632 871 8566, +63 926 734 1067.