LAST week’s big event, Madrid Fusión Manila 2016, drew crowds because it had many facets to it. At the venue itself, which was SMX Convention Center, Mall of Asia Complex, in Pasay, it had the International Gastronomy Congress, a trade fair, regional lunches, food tunnels, and private seminars on various food-related topics. Outside the venue, there was a Dinner with the Stars series going on in several hotels, where some of the foreign chef speakers for the International Gastronomy Congress took charge of the kitchen and gave paying guests a taste of their signature cuisines.
Also taking place was Epicurious: Culinary Demonstrations by Gourmet Chefs, a series of cooking demos and food samplings held in different SM Malls and which featured chefs of some of malls’ gourmet restaurant tenants conducting demos of their gourmet specialties.
Starting off the series was SM Aura Premier, whose cooking demos at the Skypark featured Ogetsu Hime and Todd English Food Hall.
A Japanese restaurant named after the food goddess, Ogetsu Hime is known for its gourmet Japanese cuisine. The restaurant has a formidable team of chefs, two of whom took center stage during the demo—Master Chef Isao Takada and Chef Wilfredo Taruc.
Chef Isao Takada, who specializes in sushi and sashimi, showed participants how to make an assortment of delicious sushis, including Salmon Sushi, Maguro Sushi, Hamachi Sushi, Hokkaido Scallop Sushi, Japanese Halibut Sushi and Ama Ebi Sushi. He rolled bite-sized balls of sushi rice, flattened each into an oblong shape, and stretched out slices of fresh chilled salmon, tuna, yellow tail and scallop, among others, on top. He also made a unique sushi, Matsusaka Beef Sushi, following the same procedure, but torching the beef on top as a finishing touch.
Every participant got to try a whole plate of assorted sushis, including a couple of Matsusaka Beef Sushi, after being served a bowl of Soft Shell Crab Miso Soup. They also got to sample a whole slice of Gindara Teriyaki and generous servings (yes, not just one but four to five pieces of each!) of Uni Tempura and Ebi Shiitake Tempura. Both were awesome—they were simple but the flavor just explodes in your mouth. The uni (sea urchin meat) was wrapped in nori (seaweed paper) and then dipped in tempura batter and deep-fried to a crisp, and the Ebi Shiitake Tempura had a whole piece of shiitake mushroom stuffed with a chopped shrimp mixture, dipped in batter and deep-fried to a golden crisp.
Then Chef Wilfredo Taruc conducted an entertaining demo over at the teppanyaki table. He threw eggs into the air, caught them with the sides of a knife and used the dripping egg to draw a heart with an arrow on the teppanyaki grill, after which he incorporated the egg in making Japanese fried rice. He also made Ogetsu Hime’s famous Beef Teppanyaki using Matsusaka A5 beef, as well as Vegetable Teppanyaki and Seafood Teppanyaki.
With a full tummy, the group moved on to Todd English Food Hall, also located at the Skypark.
TODD ENGLISH FOOD HALL
Todd English Food Hall, which is huge in terms of floor area covered and in terms of food choices and food stations (there are nine!), has been one of the first restaurant tenants of SM Aura Premier’s Skypark. It’s a celebrity chef restaurant brought in to Manila by managing director Eric Dee’s family. Todd English himself was personally in town when the restaurant opened.
After a quick welcome by Dee, his chefs went to work right away, demonstrating how the restaurant’s gourmet treat, Bone Marrow Escargot, is made. The bone is cut in half with an electric saw, the bone marrow is scraped out and mixed with other ingredients to form a custard, after which the bone marrow custard is scooped back into the cavity of the bone, sprinkled with sugar and torched to brulee it. The bone marrow is then served in a cast-iron container with escargot (snails) cooked in white wine on top and an arugula salad on the side.
To everyone’s surprise, each got served with a generous portion of Bone Marrow Escargot, plus two appetizers, Crispy Tuna Poke and Crocodile Sisig Taco. Delightfully indulgent bites plus good company and an animated conversation marked the food sampling.
Then it was demo time again, this time highlighting the restaurant’s star dessert, OMG. With Dee explaining the steps, Todd English Food Hall’s chefs showed how to assemble the cake—from brushing a dessert bowl with homemade chocolate syrup and inverting a piece of Chocolate Lava Cake (made with 61% Valrhona dark chocolate) onto the bowl to layering it with chocolate streusel and crunchy mini chocolate balls hand-formed and chilled, piping huge blobs of dark and milk chocolate onto the sides, placing a huge scoop of chocolate gelato on top of the lava cake, and drizzling with chocolate syrup.
Capping the demo and food tasting was an individual-sized OMG dessert for everyone.
Other Epicurious: Culinary Demonstrations by Gourmet Chefs sessions took place in other SM Malls in conjunction with Madrid Fusión Manila 2016.