Written and photographed
By Jude Bautista
Chefs today are like rock stars, you can’t turn on the TV without bumping into a celebrity chef like Mario Batali, Emeril Lagasse and now our very own Chef Sau Del Rosario on “Sarap To Heart” in GMA network. No wonder the most prestigious hotel in the city, Makati Shangri-la also wanted to honor their team as Super Hero Chefs.
Each of them has earned renown in their respective specialty cuisines. But who among them commands the most culinary admirers? Makati Shangri-La Superhero Chef is a friendly competition among the chefs that also gives clientele a chance to vote for their favorite chef and win a large group buffet for free. The competition started August 6th, but is now winding down to the last week up to September 9.
We’ve all heard the line ‘Whose cuisine reigns supreme?’ from the Iron Chef series. But instead of whiny voiced female judges and stuffy old food experts determining the winner, we the customers get to vote.
The votes can be given in two ways: a drop box at Circles for the customers. And they may also ‘like’ the individual photos posted of the Superhero chef of their choice on the official Makati Shangri-La facebook page.
Tallying results from both, the chef “with the highest final score shall be chosen as the ‘Ultimate Chef’ winner and will receive a trophy “Makati Shangri-La Superhero Chef”.
That’s not all, clients who cast their ballot in the drop box will get to join a raffle: “One (1) lucky draw winner will receive a gift voucher for lunch or dinner that entitles him/her to a private event for 30 persons in any function room with an equivalent worth of Circles Buffet price, (date subject to availability) and valid for 6 months.” Make sure to keep the ticket stubs after submitting your votes, as you may be the winner of an exquisite party of your own at the prestigious Circles Event Café.
While buffets have become more popular the Circles lunch and dinner buffet at Makati Shang is considered to be the best in the country. The vast array of choices of different foods and cooking styles is mind-boggling. The quality and authenticity of each is what sets Circles apart from the gluttonous all you can eat fare in most buffet deals. The strength is the quality rather than just quantity.
Evidence of this is the all-star team of Super hero Chefs. Each one has a special day of the week to show his best. Even if you miss the day of your favorite chef, his cuisine and cooking are still available although not as ‘emphasized’ on his special day.
Monday Persian Delights – Chef Hamed Ghayedi, Tuesday Notte Italiana – Chef Franco Brodini, Wednesday Filipino Fiesta – Chef Gene Del Prado, Thursday Spice Up India- Chef Sovan Singh, Friday Seafood Market – Chef Yusuke Hino, Saturday Off the Grill – Chef Maran Mariapin and Sunday Big Brunch – Chef Anthony Collar.
Personally, I am biased. I have my own favorite Superhero Chef in Sovan Singh who is the resident Indian food expert on Thursday. I met him on 2010 as he was enthusiastically explaining and serving his dishes to diners in Circles. He has since then been promoted to Sous Chef and Service Manager for his efforts.
Although I DO love spicy and hot food, Sovan was able to show me a great number of dishes that have more flavor and nuance as opposed to just heat. Chicken Shawarma done in a lovely Indian style is unforgettable. Sovan wanted to bring in street food from his home country and elevate it to a better dining experience. The perfectly roasted chicken meat is healthier with tomatoes and lettuce on a droplet shaped pita bread served in a bowl. Eating it with your hands is advisable but the bowl catches the chicken’s juices and wayward veggies and pita, which you may still want to taste.
Tawa Vegetables are greens, bell peppers, baby corn, eggplant and string beans lightly seared. They are mixed with curry upon an order or request as to maintain the freshness and firmness of the veggies. Tawa (which means laughter to us Filipinos) refers to a large iron pan from India where they are lightly cooked.
The Tandoori section is a mix of lamb, fish, chicken and shrimp, marinated in yoghurt with Indian spices. The traditional fare is chicken skewered and cooked in a clay pot called the Tandoor hence the ubiquitous Tandoori chicken. Sovan takes it a step further cooking other meats and seafood in this manner. The result is something unique that I haven’t quite seen anywhere else certainly not in any other buffet resto.
The Indian classics are all there from Vegetable Samosa to Roast Lamb. Another unique offering that Filipinos will particularly enjoy is the Kashmiri Pulao or basmati rice with dry fruits. Instead of oily fried rice you can have anywhere this is more aromatic and made with long grain rice. The fruits and nuts aren’t necessarily sweet but makes a great combo.
Sovan was also able to recently introduce Circles’ Executive Sous Chef Gene Del Prado. He is the Filipino Food expert featured on Wednesdays. Our conversation led to bigger plans than just the Superhero promo. The ‘6 star’ Shangri-La hotel opening at the Fort next year is already getting a huge buzz in the culinary world. Chef Gene Del Prado himself will be part of a dedicated high-end Filipino restaurant with true authentic Filipino regional ingredients and cooking. While Filipino food is everywhere in Manila there has been a dearth in true fine dining in our beloved home cuisine. It has gotten him excited to cook with fresh seafood from Zamboanga for example and serve them in Ceviche style the city is known for. His key words were authenticity, freshness and quality, which we already see and taste in Circles.