This English master chef is a Filipino at heart
In a few weeks, you can count on the bistro to shed its old self and transform into an exciting new place for food and wine.
This is the promise of Chef Philip Golding, celebrity chef slash chef-instructor and now, slash AHA’s vice president for Culinary Arts and Linkages. Chef Golding, who has wowed finicky diners during his stints as Executive Chef of Azzurro Bistro, the Yats-International Club Restaurant and Cellars in Clark, and then a gig at the New World Hotel in Saigon, is all fired up about his new job in the culinary school.
After sampling the dishes he and the AHA students meticulously prepared, a preview to the unfolding of the new Upper East Restaurant, he casually shared that he had been talking with AHA president Chef Gene Cordova for a while, before taking on what he says is not really a job but a “mission.”
Since moving here from London in 1977, the chef has developed an admiration for the culinary talent of the Filipino and believes they have what it takes to work with the best in any kitchen around the world. Chef Golding said, “The linkages, that’s what I’m all about—putting them in Raffles, putting them in Marriotts, not just here but abroad. It’s about offering the same opportunities that I was offered, growing up.”
Healthy dishes with a take on the best of Filipino food
In fashioning the menu during his launch as VP for Linkages, he let the students loose in creating food that’s not just healthy, but also showcased the very best of Filipino cuisine.
From the amuse bouche of Monggo Hummus, which used ginisang munggo instead of chickpeas, to the Pakwan Mint Shooter that was a powdered green juice mix of barley grass, spirulina, wheatgrass, acai berries and moringa (under a brand called Greens & Berries) flavored with watermelon bits and sprigs of mint, everything on the menu used healthy ingredients in Filipino dishes that the British chef had become familiar with in the nearly 20 years he’s been in the Philippines.
For the main course, Sous Vide Tarragon Chicken with Laing, Pumpkin Risotto, Rosemary and Lemongrass Reduction was served. One of the students explained that the chicken breast and thigh were vacuum-sealed and set in a water bath to cook for around two hours. This sous vide method seals in the juices of the meat, making the breast fork-tender. The chicken rested on a bed of laing, cooked in a way your Bicolana lola would approve of, and a perfectly-cooked pumpkin risotto.
A recipe to fight cancer
However, what really got me interested in heading to Upper East Restaurant that night to meet Chef Golding was his and AHA’s involvement in a cook book called “Eat and Beat Cancer: A Lifestyle Choice to Beat Cancer”. AHA, hand-in-hand with Dr. Romy de Villa of the Philippine Society of Oncologists and wellness advocate Cathy Turvill of Nurture Spa, are putting together the 50-recipe cook book.
The cook book is a brainchild of cancer survivor, Lauro Vives, who has fought the effects of chemotherapy and radiation to his body after being diagnosed with the same disease that afflicted Farrah Fawcett.
Vives says that he finds his life’s purpose in heading this project and is extremely happy to get the support of Chef Golding. For the content of the book, Vives shared, “We’re following the guidelines of the Philippine Society of Oncologists. But the book in itself is not just about recipes, but also raising awareness about cancer. There will be two recipe parts – one for those who are cancer patients and one for those who just want to be healthy.”
As I personally took care of my sister who fell prey to gallbladder cancer two years ago, I can say this book is an answered prayer. Back then, it was difficult preparing my sister’s food as there was not enough information on proper nourishment cancer patients needed.
What makes the cook book even better is that it takes the ease of preparation and availability of ingredients into consideration.
Vives said, “It talks about food preparation, key ingredients, focusing on local ingredients. It’s for the Filipino market. You can easily prepare the recipes at home.”
The cook book will be launched in December, the proceeds of which will go to the East Avenue Cancer Clinic for Children.
As for Upper East Restaurant, the kitchens are humming and the bistro shall soon have a facelift that would suit Chef Golding’s vision. On Thursdays, he plans to turn it into a wine and tapas bar while on other evenings, it will offer menus to highlight the skills of the students.
Throughout the evening, it was clear that the chef, who has helped send less fortunate students to culinary school, and whose faith in the culinary talents of the Filipino is immense, seemed to have found his calling. He added, “It’s about creating from the acorn, the oak and the branches. It’s not really about me. It’s about these kids.” — AC, GMA News
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