HOTEL food promotions often feature a certain international or local regional cuisine, or they put the spotlight on a featured celebrity chef. Novotel Manila Araneta Center’s just concluded Masarap Nga! Meet and Eat did not fit into any of the two usual molds, for the hotel’s kitchen did not collaborate with any chef and its cuisine ran the whole gamut from Pinoy favorites like kare-kare to Italian frutti di mare pizza, Indonesian fried rice, Chinese stir-fried noodles, Singaporean chili crabs, and Japanese tempura and maki.
The rare partnership has Masarap Ba?, an Instagram-based food blogger with over 200,000 followers, on one end, and Novotel Manila’s chefs on the other. Masarap Ba?, who goes incognito when she reviews dishes and food products, earned quite a following by posting photos of food she has tried and accompanying these with witty one-liners that, yes, answers the question “Masarap ba?” She goes by the pseudonym Kat Abaan Jr. and says it as it is: Masarap if the dish or product is delicious, and Hindi Masarap if it does not pass her standards.
For the week-long Novotel Manila Araneta Center food promotion, Masarap Ba? picked 17 local food products, mostly by Small and Medium entrepreneurs, and the chefs of the hotel used them as is or as an ingredient in carefully created dishes.
The handpicked items are Benedicto Kitchen’s Roast Beef and Baked Salmon; Beth’s Chicken Galantina and Chicken Embutido, Buenlado’s Indie Sauce; Cheche’s Gourmet Tuyo with Salted Egg and Pes-tuyo (Pesto in Gourmet Tuyo); Daddy Mikk’s Chili Crunch and Garlic Crunch; Eddy’s Old Style Chicharrones; Gng. Bukid Peanut Butter; La Petite Fromagerie’s Truffle Cream Cheese; Mad Meats’ Homemade Bacon and Smoked Crispy Pancetta; Mishee’s Crispy Adobo Flakes, Chicken Adobo Flakes and Binagoongan Flakes; Papa Bear’s Chili Oil; Tamago Chips Salted Egg Potato Chips; Auro Dark Chocolate; Cake Shots’ Black Label Chocoholic, Tiramisu, and Baileys Red Velvet; Halfsaints 64% Dark Chocolate Tart; Le Sucre Lab’s Dreamcake; and Mango Grill Manila’s Big Cheese Cassava Cake.
Using these products, the chefs of Novotel Manila Araneta Center came up with such creative dishes as Beef Stir-fry, Pork Stir-fry, Szechuan Chicken, Stir-fry Sustainable Seafood, and Indonesian Fried Rice (all using Buenlago Kitchen’s Hot Indie Sauce); Romaine Lettuce Salad, Seared Sustainable Tuna Salad with French Dressing, Spaghetti Alle Acciughe Style, Fettuccine con Gamberi e Cheche’s Gourmet Pes-tuyo, Pizza Napolitana Style, and Pizza Frutti di Mare (all using Cheche’s Gourmet Tuyo or Pes-tuyo); Aglio e Olio (using Daddy Mikk’s Garlic and Chili Crunch) and Spicy Szechuan Noodles (with Daddy Mikk’s Chili Crunch); Sisig Paella (with Eddy’s Old Style Chicharrones); Kare-Kare (using Gng. Bukid Peanut Butter); Smoked Salmon Roulade (stuffed with La Petite Fromagerie’s Truffle Cream Cheese Spread); Linguine all’Amatriciana (with Mad Meats Smoked Bacon) and Pizza Bianco (con Mad Meats Smoked Crispy Pancetta); Mie Goreng (with Mishee’s Crispy Adobo Flakes), Pancit Guisado (with Mishee’s Chicken Adobo Flakes), and Pumpkin in Coconut Milk (with Mishee’s Binagoongan Flakes); Marinated Barramundi, Marinated Pork Loin, Marinated Chicken Breast, Singaporean Chili Crab, and Kimchi Fried Rice (using Papa Bear’s Chili Oil); Tamagochips Crusted Spicy Tuna Roll, Tamagochips Crusted Prawn Tempura, Tamagochips Crusted Uramaki Roll, and Mixed Salad in Yuzu and Citrus Dressing (with Tamagochips); and Auro Chocolate Mousse (using Auro Dark Chocolate).
The following products, however, were used as is—Cake Shots’ Black Label Chocoholic, Tiramisu, and Baileys Red Velvet; Halfsaints’ Dark Chocolate Cake with Himalayan Salt; Le Sucre Lab’s Dreamcake; and Mango Grill Manila’s Big Cheese Cassava Cake.
To have a Masarap Nga! Meet and Eat food promotion at Novotel Manila is a dream come true for Masarap Ba? Says she: “I don’t want Masarap Ba? to remain as just another witty account. I want to make this journey more meaningful by lifting others up. And it was through the community of supportive “ka-kultos” that I found the courage and support to go beyond food reviews and extend help by getting established brands like Novotel to engage SMEs and appreciate their concepts and products.”
To which Novotel Manila’s general manager, Mike Brown, answers: “Novotel Manila is not just a fun global brand that provides the best for its guests, but it’s also a cooperative member of the community. We are grateful that Masarap Ba? chose us for this creative collaboration which also includes some of our food products. This innovative move brings out the best of both local players and our hotel’s global culinary team.”
Masarap Nga! Meet and Eat had its run from March 29 to April 7, 2019.