Claude Tayag: Portrait of the Chef as Artist

Claude Tayag never ceases to amaze me as he not only dabbles but shines in the various endeavors he pours his heart and soul into – whether it be the culinary arts or the visual arts.

The other side of Claude Tayag: The chef exhibits his watercolor paintings at the National Museum

Bale Dutung

We know him as a chef and culinary icon, with his relentless promotion of Pampango and Philippine cuisine.

The name of his private dining space is Bale Dutung. If you have not yet been to this culinary treasure, make your way to the Tayags’ home in Angeles, Pampanga (visit for details). It’s is by reservation only as guests experience the culinary traditions of the Pampangeños, as interpreted by Tayag, made extraordinary with the charming touch of his wife Maryann Quioc. You may opt for an all-Pampango menu or an all-lechon menu. It was in fact at Tayag’s home that Anthony Bourdain experienced and fell in love sisig, after which the culinary legend said that sisig would “win the hearts and minds of the world”. (To honor Bourdain, Bale Dutung now also offers an Anthony Bourdain menu.)

Claude Tayag’s wife Maryann Quioc poses before 1956 portrait of the artist of himself being carried by his mother.

The Influence of E. Aguilar Cruz

But the chef’s hat is only one of his many hats. In fact, Claude Tayag was first recognized for his paintings, not for his cooking.

It was over 40 years ago, in 1977, that he was first acknowledged as a painter, when he won second prize at the annual competition of the Art Association of the Philippines, for an acrylic on canvas painting depicting the frenzied Ati-tihan festival from an elevated view. A year later, in 1978, he made his official debut into the Manila art scene with a one-man exhibition of watercolor paintings at the ABC Galleries of Larry J. Cruz, son of the great Emilio “Abe” Aguilar Cruz, in Manila. The exhibit was well-received, with critics describing Tayag’s works as “characterized by a forceful spontaneity and raw vigor”.

Abè (father of Larry) was Tayag’s greatest influence and mentor. Cruz was the bosom buddy of Tayag’s father, Renato “Katoks” Dayrit Tayag, a lawyer turned journalist. They used to call Abe “Tatang Milio”. Tayag very clearly remembers when Abe invited his artist friends over to paint the landscape of the Zambales ranges (now Carmenville Subdivision). Tayag holds dear a photo taken by his father of that moment, in 1968, with the 12-year old Claude watching the painters intently. It was quite a group: Sofronio ‘SYM’ Mendoza, Romulo Galicano, Rodolfo Ragodon, Andres Cristobal Cruz, Mauro ‘Malang’ Santos, and the future National Artist Vicente Manansala. Tayag remembers that it was then that he found his own calling, thinking, “That’s what I want to be when I grow up!”

Tayag also recalls his visits to Abe in 1976: “I was a third year Architecture student at the University of the Philippines but I would visit Tatang Milio in his painting studio on Arquiza Street, just off the tourist belt area along A. Mabini in Manila. I’d show him my latest watercolor paintings then he would critique them, and would demonstrate with paint sketches a trick or two.”

Tayag also remembers joining Cruz for the “Sketching Soiree” of the Saturday Artists’ Group – an informal association of professionals with a common passion for making art, led by Cesar Legazpi, then an executive of an advertising agency, and with members such as Alfredo “Ding” Roces, and artists who later became recognized as National Artists, such as Vicente Manansala, H.R. Ocampo, Jose Joya, Ang Kiukok, Arturo Luz, Bencab (Benedicto Cabrera) and Federico Aguilar Alcuaz.

Sketching Soiree by Claude Tayag. September 11, 1976.

Tayag was also influenced by the “Dimasalang group” comprised of Cruz and 3 friends, SYM, Galicano, and Andres Cristobal. “It was their watercolor paintings that I tried to emulate, in terms of style and subject matter,” Tayag recalls.

Inspired by these great artists, Tayag pursued watercolor as a medium, hoping to increase appreciation for this medium as well. “Watercolor is the most difficult painting medium there is,” the artist explains. “One has to have full control of the water, color, paper and timing. And this could only be achieved through a lifetime dedication of practice and exploration. For me, it is the most rewarding and most pleasurable to work with once you’ve mastered it.”

Watercolor and Wood

In the decade following his first exhibit, Tayag was very prolific, holding an exhibit every two years, with each exhibit focusing on a different subject. Among his exhibits were a European watercolor travelogue in 1980, inspired by his 11-month tour of Europe; Moriones in 1981; Cordillera landscapes in 1985 at the Hyatt Terraces in Baguio, after living in Baguio for a while; Kristos in 1987; and a black and white exhibition using Japanese ink on rice paper called the Bokuseki series, influenced by the Japanese style of painting called Sumi-e, in 1994 and 1997.

Sunset in the Clouds, 1979, Claude Tayag.

Later, Tayag also became known as a sculptor. He started by designing and manufacturing traditional Filipino domestic furniture (e.g la mesa, upuan, taburete, bangkô, paminggalan), which he consigned to the Pansol Pottery owned by potters Jon and Tessie Pettyjohn in Makati. He became known for his creations that had “straightforward functionality and clean lines, much like the Japanese and Shaker furniture”, with “no-nail construction, using mostly dove-tailing and mortise-and-tenon techniques”. In 1990, he staged his first one-man exhibition as a sculptor at the Ayala Museum, presenting both functional and sculptural creations in wood. He awed audiences with his ability to “supercede the limitations of an essentially rigid material, achieving limitless volume and sensuous plasticity with this wave and curvilinear series”.

Chef Claude

In the 1980s, Tayag started dabbling in cooking. The ingenious Larry Cruz, then owner of Ang Hang restaurant in Makati, challenged Tayag to interpret his watercolor paintings as “edible art”. I guess a Capampangan does not back down from a challenge, especially one related to cooking, so Tayag executed a clever dinner entitled “Artworks” in 1989. So just as Cruz had given Tayag his first exhibit in 1978, it was also Cruz who gave Tayag his first culinary “exhibit” in 1989!

It must have been a hit as a few years later, in 1993, Tayag was featured as the guest chef of the hoity toity Chaine des Rotisseurs at their annual dinner held at the Manila Hotel. He cooked traditional Pampango cuisine.

In 2001, he was invited to be guest chef for an entire month at the famous fine dining restaurant Prince Albert of the Intercontinental Hotel, the first Asian chef ever to be invited, cooking alongside their French chef Cyrille Soenen.

Since then, Tayag has become a favorite in the culinary scene. Aside from his private dining space Bale Dutung, which he opened with wife Maryann in the 2000s, he has also hosted a television show on food, and has published three food-related books: Food Tour, Linamnam, and Kulinarya (with co-authors). He also made the country proud when he won the People’s Choice Award at the Embassy Chef Challenge in Washington, D.C. in May 2016.

National Museum

But once an artist, you are always an artist. So when Dr. Ana Labrador, assistant director of the National Museum, saw Tayag at the Emilio “Abé” Aguilar Cruz Hall opening three years ago and suggested that he do an exhibition of his watercolor paintings with them, being a direct “offspring” of Abé as a watercolorist, he immediately said yes.

So until until September 22, the National Museum presents “Claude Tayag: Watercolors 1974 – Present”.

T’bloi Women by Claude Tayag.
My favorite among Claude’s works: “Kain Na!” A T’boli woman enticing you to eat.

Here you will see the other side of the “chef”: that of visual artist, featuring his watercolor paintings of T’boli women, paintings from the Moriones series, the Kristo series, the Cordillera series, paintings of churches and images of Catholic saints, postcards with art from his travels, and a throwback to the Bokuseki series.

I love the energy that flows from each work of art – from the vibrant colors to the details that communicate life. It is a beautiful exhibition that mirrors the artist’s inspired journeys.

I encourage everyone to visit this exhibit. It is one that his mentors and even his father, who discouraged him from pursuing fine arts, would undoubtedly be proud of. Claude Tayag, like his mentor E. Aguilar Cruz, is truly a Renaissance man!

Claude Tayag: Watercolors 1974 – Present
At the National Museum
Until September 22, 2019


Other opening highlights:

Me and my sister Goldee, fans of Claude, getting our book of watercolor paintings by Claude Tayag autographed by the artist at the exhibition opening.
Also love Claude’s church series. This is a painting from 1979 of the Nuremberg Cathedral.
Also love his series on Catholic images or what we call “Poon”.
Claude Tayag greeted by fellow chefs Myrna Segismundo (checkered, beside Claude) and Glenda Barretto of Via Mare (blue)
Checking out Claude Tayag’s Bokuseki series with Manila tour guide Ivan Man Dy
The exhibit opening was a resounding success. It was a nice touch too that there was food from Pampanga brought by the chef. We all loved the tibok tibok (carabao milk pudding)
Never a dull moment with Goldee!! Playing tourist with Claude’s Moriones series. This is based on an actual painting (see first photo with the artist).

Congratulations, Claude!!!

What It Takes To Make It In The World of Hotel PR

he Makati communication directors squad: (L-R) Bess Howe, PR Director, Holiday Inn & Suites; Monique Toda, Communications Director, Raffles & Fairmont, Patti Javier, Communications Director, Shangrila Makati, Claire Hernandez, E-Commerce Manager, Peninsula Manila, Margaux Hontiveros, incoming Marketing Communications Director, Raffles Cambodia and former Communications Director of Primea; Shariza Relova, MarComm Director, Dusit Thani; Grace Lim and Mariano Garchitorena, PR Director of Peninsula Manila.
Some people think that working in a hotel is a glamorous job. Many kids aspire to become chefs when they grow up, as they watch celebrity chefs on television, Netflix and social media, and think that it’s an easy role to play. Others aspire to be in the hotel industry as part of its communications team, perceiving it to be a job of utter luxury, as their workplace would be the hotel and every dish you have would be Instagram-worthy.
I spoke with Margaux Hontiveros, who has just been promoted to the world of international communication directors as incoming Director of Marketing Communications of Raffles Cambodia, to find out what it’s really like to be a hotel / F&B publicist. Here are her revelations:
1. Working in a hotel is not all glamour and glitz

As glamorous as it appears, Margaux confesses with a smile, “It is not all glamour. It has perks but there’s a lot of hard work involved. Over the years I’ve been no stranger to getting my hands dirty and finding myself in various situations where I’ve literally had to get down in the grime and grit.” Although, she is quick to add, “How quickly we can vacillate from glamour to grit is one of the things I love about this job.”
Margaux Hontiveros, Raffles Cambodia
The glamorous Margaux Hontiveros, incoming Marketing Communications Director of Raffles Cambodia
2. You may work 26 hours a day (yes, more than 24!)
There are 8:30 am briefings, a ton of errands including writing or approving press releases, photo shoots, “a never-ending cascade of meetings to attend” during the day, media to entertain at 8:30 in the evening with frivolities that can last til the wee hours of the morning. Then repeat the next day.
3. You don’t need to be stiff
“Definitely there’s a certain sense of decorum that we have to follow. But what was proper 20 years ago may seem extremely outdated and cold these days,” Margaux explains. Instead, she emphasizes the importance of manners but says that the level of formality will depend on what is being promoted and who the audience is.
4. You don’t need to undercut the competition
One would think that hotel publicists would hate each other, viewing each other as competition, but the Makati hotel PRs have gone the exact opposite direction and straight up support each other, hang out, and appear to have a genuine love for each other. It seems like in the PR world, they are all one happy family.

Margaux confirms this: “It is competitive, but extremely friendly and supportive. I can’t speak for everyone, of course, but at least in our circle (Raffles, Shangri-la, Peninsula, Primea, Holiday Inn and Dusit), we keep up with what each other is doing and are extremely supportive of each other. It’s a great camaraderie. It completely dispels the theory that to get ahead, you must be ruthless. I am deeply grateful for these friends, and most of them I consider to be my mentors.”

he Makati communication directors squad: (L-R) Bess Howe, PR Director, Holiday Inn & Suites; Monique Toda, Communications Director, Raffles & Fairmont, Patti Javier, Communications Director, Shangrila Makati, Claire Hernandez, E-Commerce Manager, Peninsula Manila, Margaux Hontiveros, incoming Marketing Communications Director, Raffles Cambodia and former Communications Director of Primea; Shariza Relova, MarComm Director, Dusit Thani; Grace Lim and Mariano Garchitorena, PR Director of Peninsula Manila.
The Makati Hotels Communication Directors Squad:
(L-R) Bess Howe, PR Director, Holiday Inn & Suites; Monique Toda, Communications Director, Raffles & Fairmont; Patti Javier, Communications Director, Shangrila Makati; Claire Hernandez, E-Commerce Manager, Peninsula Manila; Margaux Hontiveros, incoming Marketing Communications Director, Raffles Cambodia and former Communications Director of Primea; Shariza Relova, MarComm Director, Dusit Thani; Grace Lim and Mariano Garchitorena, PR Director of The Peninsula Manila.
5. You don’t need a hospitality degree


Margaux did not go to a hospitality school. She is an artist. She recalls distinctly, “During one of my (first) interviews, it was brought up that I didn’t have any hospitality experience, to which I cheekily answered, ‘No one goes to art school to work in a hotel.’” She still got the job anyway but started out as a Graphic Designer under Joy Wassmer, then Communications Director of Shangri-la Makati. Then Erica Sotto, also with Shang, saw Margaux’s potential not only for visuals but also for writing. After testing her with captions, she promoted Margaux to copywriter until she became Communications Coordinator and eventually Communcations Executive.
From Shang, Margaux joined the opening team of Lind Boracay and a few years later joined Monique Toda for Raffles & Fairmont Makati. “My time at Raffles and Fairmont Makati was where I truly grew up. Monique (Communications Director of Raffles Makati) really took me under her wing, and supported me in figuring out what kind of MarComm person I wanted to be,” Margaux reminisces.
After graduating from the Monique Toda school of PR, she felt confident enough to take on the role of Communications Director at Discovery Primea under General Manager David Pardo de Ayala, whom she considers another mentor. And for the next few years, she will be Communications Director of Raffles in Cambodia.
Not bad for someone who never went to hospitality school!



I also asked Margaux for some tips for F&B or hotel PR. Here are her suggestions:

1. You need a good product.

While branding is king, you also need a good product to begin with. When the competition is fierce, you up your game not only through promotions but by having better products, i.e., better services, better menus, better music, better chocolate. “Any hotel or company that’s worth its salt must have a strong brand to back up everything they do and say,” Margaux stresses. “If you can deliver an experience that is genuine and true to your brand promise, there is no doubt you’ll stand out.”

2. Highlight personalities.


Let’s face it, there are occasions where all hotels have the same products and promotions: Easter, Christmas, Chinese New Year. What to do then? Margaux suggests to highlight the personality of your chefs. “Every chef has his or her own personality, and it’s important that the Executive Chef has the freedom to create as he or she wishes. I’ve been fortunate to work collaboratively with some of the best F&B people and chefs, and perhaps it’s also due to my own love of food and awe of what they do, but I’ve always been inspired by their creativity,” she says.


3. Tell a story


At the core of marketing and communications is the task of telling stories. Margaux explains: “Whether it’s a brand story, or why we do a certain promotion, or the profile of an individual, we have to tell a story through copy, through design, through experiences.”
In fact, this is what she loves most about the job. “From the unique features of each property, to the philosophies of the brands, and the people who work tirelessly to ensure that the guests are comfortable, secure and delighted at every turn, the opportunities to flex your creative muscles are endless.”


4. Create an experience


Margaux fell in love with gin at Raffles Makati, after having a sip of their signature Sipsmith gin. But it was at Primea that she was given the freedom to launch a real gin experience. She created the concept of a “gin buffet”. “I wanted to create an environment where people could come and feed their curiosity about gin and the many different brands,” she recalls. Thankfully, Primea F&B Director Rhea Sycip and head bartender Lennon Aguilar were just as excited about the concept and immediately got on board so today, Primea has over a hundred different bottles available at the Gilarmi Lounge’s Gin Library and the gin buffet is now one of the hotel’s most celebrated F&B attractions.
Margaux Hontiveros’ love for gin inspired her to create Manila’s first Gin Buffet. Photo by Margaux Hontiveros


5. Genuinely care

This is something she learned from Lui Parungao, whom Margaux describes as “the heart and soul of the Shangrila Makati Marcomm team for over 25 years” and whom she considers to have been her “constant mentor” from the beginning of her career: You can remember everyone’s names, birthdays, what they like and don’t like, who they are connected with, if you have a genuine care and interest in people. Lui also taught her, “Above all, take the time to be kind. Be humble. And always grow.”

Finally, she shares a lesson from her father: “Whatever you do, find the joy in it.”

No doubt this Filipina will shine as she flexes her communication muscles once again, this time in Cambodia.

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 –

Painting Cakes Brings New Life to Artist Christina Dy

He Is Risen! 


As we celebrate the message of hope that Easter brings, allow me to share the story of a friend who found light amidst darkness, strength in the midst of fear, and joy in spite of sorrow. She is a true inspiration.


Her name is Christina Dy. 



She is a visual artist: a recipient of the Cultural Center of the Philippines’ 13 Artists Award in 2009, participant at the Busan Biennale, aside from her solo shows (see She is also an award-winning production designer (her works include Big Time and Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros). Extending her artistry to the performing arts, she also created Polecats Manila, changing the perspective of pole dancing from banal and sleazy to brilliant and creative through lessons and performances. 


Last year, she was diagnosed with Stage 1 breast cancer. It was devastating news, as cancer goes, but CD, as she is called by friends, while pragmatic enough to admit her lows, did not wallow in pity or allow the diagnosis to get her down. 


Instead, she turned to art. In the past, she had turned to pole dancing. In fact the story of how she created Polecats Manila – to heal her broken heart after breaking up with a boyfriend – was so moving that Maalala Mo Kaya in 2016 even did an episode on her story, with no less than Jessie Mendiola playing her character! This time, though, she had to find a new medium of expression. And she did … in the kitchen!



“Suddenly I couldn’t do pole anymore. So I had to figure out what to do with my time. I didn’t want to do any serious ‘art’ so I decided to draw on food,” she recalls. 


She started with macarons for a very realistic reason: “They seemed less of a commitment. They’re tiny and readily available and less expensive than a cake. If I paint ugly things on them, I can just feed them to my sister and no one has to know, haha!” Then she moved on to cakes. “After macarons, the cakes came next naturally so that I would have a bigger painting area.” She learned to do art on this new canvass by googling how to paint on cakes online. 

The cakes are baked by her friend Rachelle Sarzona, former pastry chef at Shangrila Fort, who now has her own pastry brand, I Don’t Make Sweet Desserts. Then CD paints on them.

CD posted about the first cake that she painted on, she recalls vividly, on February 27 this year, and got her first order on the same day.


But note that CD does not offer your usual cake art – no characters or kiddie themes. Neither are her cakes bright or festive or chirpy. In fact, all her cake art are black and white. “I never really liked colors. I don’t understand them,” she explains.


So the cakes are simply edible versions of her art.


And as art has helped her in the past, they did help her heal emotionally this time as well. “Painting on cakes helped relieve my feelings of not being productive. It was nice being able to produce something

It did not erase the other pains she had to go through, though. She hated having what she calls a “blistery boob”. “With a blistery boob all you can do is think while lying motionless. Everything else is painful. … What cancer has taught me is that all i have is today. Now. What will I do now?” she mulled candidly on Facebook.


But she pulled herself together with resolve: “How many times have I thought of making this art work or learning this piano piece, but I said I’ll just do it tomorrow? Then tomorrow again. And again. Well guess what CD, today was yesterday’s tomorrow and have you done it yet? And now my attention and energy and resources are directed somewhere else. So yes, what will I do today?”


Then she has pulled herself up with gratitude and optimism: “I never thought that the biggest challenge of my life would be a blistery boob! During times like this, I cannot stress enough the importance of doing something fun and having something to look forward to. Today I went out and took a silversmithing workshop, and getting dressed was painful, but I made it and had so much fun and forgot the blisters for 4 hours. … Tomorrow,  after the hospital, I plan on going to ArtBar and All About Baking and will look at all the pretty supplies and get inspired to create new things. And having that purpose makes the discomfort and pain worth it.”


Her advice to those going through challenges like hers as she finished radiation: “Do something that gives you joy every day. Doesn’t have to be big. Just something. For me, it’s painting on macarons or cakes, playing with origami and chocolate, making clay cakes, making nonsense abstract paintings. It’s important to have something to look forward to everyday, because it’s so much easier to just be angry and give up.”  


Just last month, CD turned 43.  


It is evident – and heartwarming – that after her Black Saturday, by grace, she found her personal Easter morning, as she wrote poetically on her birthday: ”   So many things in life I have no control over, but I can always choose the kind of person I want to be. And right now, I want to be the kind of person that laughs, makes time for herself, takes things slow, listens, tries to make the world a better place, sleeps (who knew I’d love sleep this much!), plays with new silly ideas (likepainting on macarons!), says thank you for each day, wears eyeliner and red lipstick just because.
I thought of sharing CD’s story today, on Easter Sunday, because that is what today is about: celebrating the fullness of life.


I hope that you find your Easter morning, too – and celebrate the fullness of life by the grace of God, in the presence of the Father – today and everyday!


Happy Easter! 

Story in today’s column in the Inquirer

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!


Fine Dining on Fine Pettyjohn Pottery

I had the most interesting dinner this weekend.

It was a unique concept: 6 ceramic artists (potters) came together to showcase their work through a dining experience hosted by Aleth Ocampo in her Magallanes private dining space.

Aleth, known for her classic French cooking, served all the dishes for this event in pottery by (pictured above) Jon Pettyjohn, Tessy Pettyjohn, Joey de Castro, Pablo Capati III, Johann Gohoc and herself.  (What some don’t know is that Aleth is herself now quite the distinguished potter! You can find works at Aphro Living.)

Aleth Ocampo is a culinary / ceramic artist

I had the privilege – randomly – of sitting across Jon Pettyjohn and wife Tessy, the masters of this art. And it was a real privilege – and pleasure – because I learned so much!

“What is terracotta?” I randomly asked those seated beside me, all of whom I had met for the first time tonight, all of whom were potters. “It’s a kind of clay. But there are many kinds of clays,” John explained.

“It’s the dirtiest of the clays,” Joey de Castro, another ceramic artist, explained.

I asked about terracotta because I had just met another artist in the kitchen, Joe Geraldo, who was just there to hang out. He explained that he works more with sculptures (rather than functional art) but uses terracotta.

Beyond the vase: Jon Pettyjohn. Vase by Jon Pettyjohn.

“This reminds me,” I told Jon, “of this article I just read in the Economist about a museum curator in a small province in China. There were farmers nearby who found pieces of these great terracotta sculptures of soldiers and since they were of no value to the farmers they were thinking of selling them but just before selling, they happened to ask the museum curator about them. When the curator saw them, he immediately knew their value, paid them for it, pieced them together himself and completed a soldier. Then the government got wind of it and they started digging for more and now there are these large museums filled with these terracotta …”

“The Terracotta Warriors,” Jon said. “Yes, we were just there. In China. It’s amazing. You should see it!”

My jaw dropped. I remember making a mental note to visit this place while reading this obit feature in The Economist, but I never thought I would have a conversation with someone who had actually been to the Museum of the Terracotta Warriors! I mean, it sounded so remote. But Jon and Tessy had been there!

Pablo’s bowls and Aleth’s plates

(Just to be faithful to the story of the Terracotta Warriors discoverer, the man is Zhao Kangmin. He was the curator of the Lintong District Museum in Shaanxi province in northwest China. The farmers at first would find smaller terracotta objects like arrowheads and body parts. Then they found a life-sized head, which freaked them out LOL. For a while they took it for an earth-god. Zhao told them that these were from the Qin Dynasty (221-206 BC), the first imperial dynasty of a united China, and told the farmers to stop digging. He got what they found, epoxied the parts together and made himself proud when he was able to piece together two warriors. Later, after hearing of these important finds, the government got involved and proper excavation to dig for these warriors took place. With the government’s involvement, they unearthed – hold your breath – around 8,000 infantrymen, officers and archers, 520 horsemen, 330 chariots and real, sharp weapons — all terracotta! Can you believe it? All thanks to the commitment to history and the foresight of Zhao Kangmin.)

Jon, though, enlightened me a bit more about this story. Apparently, at that time – 200 years Before Christ! – the emperors, who believed in life after death, would make their servants commit suicide when they died (because who wants to do their own laundry in the afterlife, right?). But the first Emperor of Qin refused to do this; instead, he had these terracotta warriors made. “Now that is one compassionate leader!” I laughed. “Yes,” Jon said, “He saved a lot of lives!”

The Pottery Squad and me

From there our conversation moved on to china. I was trying to understand the difference between clay and china. Apparently china is the most pristine kind of clay and back in the day was only found in China, from a province so blessed that their clay is white. And they created machines that would produce heat so intense that they were able to make porcelain. Since this was only available in China … hence it was called china!

Then I went on to inquire from the potters … so what is bone china? (I was just full of questions and luckily, Jon had all the answers!)

Bone china is England’s response to China’s china. After all, they need fancy ware for their tea! They wanted to replicate china. But they couldn’t … because, duh, nature. They just were not blessed with that kind of clay in the United Kingdom. But the brilliant Brits found a way. They discovered that if you mix bone with certain kinds of clay, you can create something that resembles the color of china. Hence, bone china. It is literally from bones! Animal bones, ok? Not human bones. Although, there may have been a time when they imported bones and some human bones were mixed in! (OMG!) ”

Pablo Picasso’s ceramic art. Not included in the dinner LOL

“I don’t know if I remember this right but I was in the Picasso Museum in Barcelona a couple of years ago and I remember seeing that there was a section on his pottery,” I said.

“Yes!” Jon confirmed. So yay I remembered it right – Picasso was also a potter. With very humorous creations, I might add!

Jon in fact lived in Barcelona in the ’70s. He moved there when he was 22 (he is half Filipino, by the way – mom’s a Lorenzo – though his dad’s surname is very American, Pettyjohn). His cousin told him, as a tourist, to check out the Barrio Gotico, the gothic district. While walking around, he discovered an art school with students doing pottery. He had a eureka moment where he found his calling to become a potter. Got really into it. Stayed in Barcelona for two years, studying the craft. Came back to the Philippines to pursue his passion further; even went to the Bureau of Mines to find out where to find clay (he ended up going all the way to Albay). And now Pettyjohn is a Philippine pottery institution, one of the pioneers and still leading the industry after 40+ years. (He met his wife Tessy, by the way, who was also a potter, at a gallery. She was also already a ceramic artist by that time. Married in 1978! Totally made for each other!)

Tessy Pettyjohn and her works of art. Lovely lady.

Aleth’s food was a hit, of course. Her homemade breads were sliced and served on Tessy Pettyjohn’s long ribbed tray. Her pate was served on bowls made by her as well. And I drank my hot water from an Aleth Ocampo mug. Sozzzhal!

The excellent mushroom soup using four kinds of mushroom, punctuated with truffle sauce, butter and cream, was served in bowls by Johann Gohoc.

Johann Gohoc’s soup bowls

I was also so happy that she served my fave French dish of hers – beef bourguignon, which she has really mastered. These were served in bowls by Pablo Capati, Aleth’s sensei. Pablo, by the way,  established the Capati Pottery Studio in San Jose, Batangas in 2000. Check out what the UPCFA Cermaic Studio has to say about him:

Pablo K. Capati III established the Capati Pottery Studio in San Jose, Batangas in 2000. This is where he built the 2nd Anagama Kiln in the Philippines. He has mastered the technique of making beautiful surface effects from years of experimenting with his kiln and firing it with varied local endemic wood. He pioneered the organization of international wood-firing festivals in the Philippines called Tropical Blaze, which initiated international linkages with ceramicists from Japan, Australia, Singapore and Thailand since 2013.


There was also halibut for the fish lovers that Town and Country’s Alicia Colby Sy raved about. We enjoyed these on Jon and Tessy Pettyjohn plates which we picked out ourselves. My seatmate Didith Tan chose a plate by Tessy, which had intricately crowned corners. I chose a beautiful one by Jon (I did not know it was by him when I chose it) because it was kind of like a bowl and for some reason I prefer eating from bowls over plates.

Pablo Capati – ceramic artist and condiment server LOL

Desserts were served in plates by Joey de Castro. (His is the nearest gallery, by the way, just on Edsa between Shaw and Guadalupe, if you would like to check out his works. ) Of the three desserts, Didith and Jon loved Aleth’s Kunafa, a Turkish dessert of shredded filo pastry stuffed with kefalograviera cheese. “That’s Chowee’s favorite,” she told when we told her we loved it. Chowee is Aleth’s dog. Lucky pooch! I, on the other hand, loved something Chowee and I won’t fight over – the chocolate mousse! Served in Pablo-made bowls.

Joey de Castro

As for our doggy bags? Dinner came with any item or set worth P2,000.00. (Of course, guests were free to purchase more.) How’s that for take home?

Check out more of their works:

For the works of Jon and Tessy Pettyjohn, visit
For the works of Joey de Castro, visit His gallery is at Sierra Madre Pottery Studio. 586 Sierra Madre St., Brgy. Malamig, Mandaluyong City,

For the works of Aleth Ocampo, visit Launches Power Lunch with Margaux Salcedo

A few weeks ago, we started Power Lunch with Margaux Salcedo, an online show for, aired on Youtube.

Tourism Sec. Berna Romulo Puyat
Tourism Sec. Berna Romulo Puyat

It’s an effort of mine to bring my two worlds together: food and politics. I realized that my friendships are so diverse: that the beliefs of my friends stretch politically from left to right, from activists to bureaucrats, from the administration to the opposition to the media; religion-wise from Muslims, Catholics, born-again Christians, Buddhists to atheists; even culturally, from art collectors to pop culture enthusiasts. If there was a dish to describe my friends, it would be halo-halo.

But there is a common thread for all of them: They all love food.

So I thought, instead of eating alone when on food ventures, why not have a grand time sharing calories with my kick-ass friends in a setting that allows us to talk about current events while enjoying each others’ companies through delicious food?

Hence, Power Lunch was born.

And I have been on a roll discovering very interesting things about people I admire.

For example, I learned from Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat, one of the first persons I had a Power Lunch with, that President Duterte loves durian and doesn’t mind at all eating sardines. (Watch my Power Lunch with Sec. Berna Puyat AT THIS LINK.)

Meanwhile, Berna herself does not eat any kind of seafood at all, even if she is constantly promoting all kinds of Filipino food. She is allergic. If she must eat fish, it has to be incredibly fresh.

Power Lunch with Margaux Salcedo;
Budget Sec. Benjamin Diokno

Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno, with whom I had Power Lunch this week (that episode goes live on Sunday in, like the President, also loves Filipino food but pairs his kare-kare with a good merlot. That is, if he has a chance to eat—he hardly eats! He has been working so hard, he forgets to eat. Proof: Our Power Lunch was a very, very late lunch, at 5:00 p.m. (more like happy hour) and his last meal was breakfast at 6:00 a.m. (Watch my Power Lunch with Sec. Ben Diokno at THIS LINK.)

When he was younger, though, he and his fellow University of the Philippines (UP) professors would drive all the way to Batangas from the Diliman campus during lunch break just to have bulalo. “We would leave UP at 11:30 a.m. and be back by 2 p.m.,” he reminisced. “Kaya pala kayo matalino, mahilig kayo kumain ng utak (That is probably why you are all intelligent, you eat marrow),” I said.

Former Sen. Rene Saguisag, whose Power Lunch episode went live last Sunday, cannot eat a heavy dinner. He will go for just tapas and cheese or just pica pica. That is because he still goes dancing after. “I need it as my exercise!” he confides. (Watch my Power Lunch with Senator Rene Saguisag AT THIS LINK.)

Margaux Salcedo with Rene Saguisag
Former Senator Rene Saguisag

Meanwhile, election expert and former Commission on Elections Commissioner Gregorio Larrazabal loves a mean steak. “Go big or go home, right?” he joked. (Watch my Power Lunch with Goyo Larrazabal AT THIS LINK.)

New York Times’ Jason Gutierrez shared that the foreign press love to eat and hang out at Oarhouse in Malate. (Watch my Power Lunch with Jason Gutierrez AT THIS LINK.)

Renato Reyes Jr. of Bayan, whom I had the privilege of having a Power Lunch with before the President’s State of the Nation Address (and the House Speakership power grab), also loves a good steak. (Didn’t I tell you my friends range from right to left, from admin to opposition?) But more importantly, he also knows where to get a good sisig. He strongly recommended the sisig at Casa Marcos in Quezon City, which we fortunately caught on their last day before moving to Baguio. It was spicy and good! (Watch my Power Lunch with Nato AT THIS LINK.)

Power Lunch with Margaux Salcedo;, Willie Soong
Willie Soong

The biggest revelation so far, however, has been that of luxury car distributor Willie Soong, president and CEO of Autostrada Motore, better known as the distributor of Ferrari and Maserati. Everybody knows him for his cars and that was how I knew him too, because I met him when he led 25 Ferrari owners to Baguio, driving their Ferraris, for the brand’s anniversary.But I did not know—because I only met him last year at this event at the Manor in Camp John Hay (and also because I am so young—hahaha!)—that he also created Racks. Yes, that Racks with its famous fall-off-the-bone baby back ribs.

I found out at our Power Lunch that not only was he the owner but also the creator and “chef” of Racks. He personally developed the ribs recipe as well as each signature sauce.

Over our Power Lunch at James & Daughters of Chef Jonas Ng at the Fort, he shared he quietly celebrated the 25th anniversary of Racks with the original team just a few months ago, although he has already given the Philippine rights to the Prieto family.

He also shared the ups and downs of owning and managing a restaurant business before the turn of the century.

Power Lunch with Margaux Salcedo;, Goyo Larrazabal
Former Comelec Commissioner Goyo Larrazabal

Funny enough, one of the highlights of his Racks days was when the Department of Tourism in 1994 asked him to host a lunch for all the Miss Universe contestants at the Malate branch. The sponsorship was worth it because after lunch, each of the contestants gave him a kiss. The last kiss of course was from his own Miss Universe—his wife.This Power Lunch online show is so much fun for me, discovering the life story of each of the personalities, who are movers and shakers in their own ways, all making a difference in the country and in the world. Even if most of them are already my friends to begin with, the show gives me an opportunity to find out details about them I never knew.

It’s also even more fun because I insisted the third character must be the restaurant. We also get to know the chef or the restaurant’s signature dishes over our lunch.

My latest discovery is that chef Jonas, aside from cooking great Asian food, makes a mean langka ice cream. Try it at James & Daughters.

I hope, in time, Power Lunch becomes as much fun for the viewers, too. Please join us for lunch today. Visit or search Power Lunch with Margaux Salcedo to find the ManilaSpeak channel on Youtube.


Read more:

Cesar Montano Concedes, ASSESSING Possibility of Madrid Fusion Manila 2018

We did it!! Well … almost, so let’s keep pushing!

So last week, Mr Montano confirmed to me that Madrid Fusion Manila would no longer push through.

So of course I shared the bad news with the world.

I never expected that foodies would make such resounding noise – as if food was taken away from our table! LOL


As of 8:00 pm last night, Tourism and Promotions officer Maricon Ebron said that Madrid Fusion Manila 2018 is “unlikely”.

She stated the following reasons: no venue, no date, no proper bidding for an event organizer.

She did however say that it was possible for Madrid Fusion Manila to push through but in 2019.

lThe Tourism Promotions Board (TPB) is awaiting the Spanish organizer of Madrid Fusion Manila (MFM) to propose a new date for the international gastronomy congress, after the original date was called off to give way for a public bidding, an official said Tuesday.


Maricon Ebron, officer-in-charge of the TPB Marketing and Promotions Sector, confirmed to the Philippine News Agency (PNA) that the event is unlikely to push through this year.

She said Foro de Debate, who owns the Madrid Fusion trademark, has yet to propose a new date for the event, making it unworkable to start the bidding process immediately.

“Most probably, the event would be next year because Foro de Debate has to give us a date. At the same time, we need to check our venue,” she noted. “‘Pag wala silang maibigay sa amin, talagang maka-cancel nga ‘yon (If they could not give us a date, MFM 2018 would indeed be cancelled). It may be next year.”

Full story of PNA here:

Today, though, while still not confirming that the food congress will push through, Cesar Montano, TPB head, appeased angry foodies by giving an official announcement that the TPB is now ASSESSING the possibility.

But most importantly, he now RECOGNIZES the impact of the Congress. Whee! 🙂


I called him to ask if he has in fact changed his mind and Madrid Fusion 2018 is now confirmed to push through. He still refuses to confirm that the event is IN FACT pushing through but said that they are now looking at Marriot Manila as a venue, after he got word that it is available, and, like he said in his statement, ASSESSING the possibility.

The grapevine says they are looking at September. But that is not official. (Earlier the grapevine said June.)

Whatever the REAL reasons or the real plans, at least the foodie world can now rejoice at the ray of HOPE that MAYBE Madrid Fusion Manila 2018 MIGHT (still “under assessment”!) push through this year.

More on Sunday in Inquirer Sunday Biz 🙂

Michter’s Whiskey Now Available in Manila

Had a very interesting lunch today whose menu was whiskey, whiskey and whiskey!

Met Matthew Magliocco of Michter’s, a maker of whiskey based in Louisville, Kentucky – which I correctly identfied as where Jennifer Lawrence is from 😉

Matthew very passionately explained why their whiskeys are more competitive than others, the foremost reason being that they really invest in their barrels which they painstakingly air dry (as opposed to kiln) even if this takes longer, at least 18 months, and is more expensive. This allows the barrels to absorb more details from the environment which in turn reflects in the flavors of the whiskey.

We tried a US*1 Bourbon, a US*1 Rye, a sour mash, a 10 year old Kentucky Straight bourbon and a 10 year old Kentucky Straight rye.

My fave was the 10 year bourbon, which apparently is not necessarily aged just 10 years but can be anywhere between 10-17 years. Matthew thinks what we had today was in fact a 12 year old. Another special thing about this is that the 10 year old bourbons are single oak. (Like me – haha! Single oak for single folk LOL).

Matthew noted though that their master blender, Pamela, is especially proud of the rye, which has made a comeback recently with the popularity of Prohibition cocktails. He himself prefers the US1. While Brett Tolhurst of Wine Depot, our host, took great pleasure in the sour mash, which has corn, rye and barley.

Hope to get to appreciate more American whiskeys in the future – especially if these are from Jennifer Lawrence’s hometown!!