I HAVE been cooking for a long time. Since Raff and I got married and moved into our own house, I had taken charge of the kitchen and prepared all our meals. But since our work in media, specializing in food, often took us on coverages, food tastings, product launches and other media get-togethers for lunch and/or dinner most of the time, I did not have to cook all the time.
Raff, however, suffered a stroke last year (2016) and we had to stay with my sister for a year after he was released from the hospital because I needed a lot of help with his care. In July this year, I finally brought him home, and preparing three meals a day became part of my daily routine. Of course, I would run out of recipes and thus referred to cookbooks, magazines and the Internet for recipe ideas. That’s when I realized the importance of being able to prepare healthy and delicious home-cooked meals all the time.
To enable people like me constantly prepare freshly cooked meals at home without running out of recipes and creative cooking ideas, top olive oil brand Doña Elena put together its Chef Ambassador Series. Aiming to share recipes of great-tasting, easy-to-prepare dishes with Filipino homemakers, the Chef Ambassador Series constantly seeks out game-changing chefs who like to whip up such dishes and share them with others. The only requirement is that they work with olive oil, which is a healthy and high-quality ingredient, and the dishes have to be practical and delicious.
Finding two awesome chefs who fit the bill—Chef Kalel Chan, corporate chef of Raintree Restaurants; and Chef Mikel Zaguirre, executive chef of Locavore—Doña Elena recently debuted its Chef Ambassador Series campaign in a dinner presentation held at Lemuria Gourmet Restaurant in Quezon City.
The garden-themed events place was perfect for the launch, where Chef Kalel shared his recipe of Spanish Style Balsamic Bangus Belly, and Chef Mikel showcased his own Mojo Chicken. After officials of Fly Ace Corporation, which is the exclusive distributor of Doña Elena products in the Philippines, welcomed guests and briefly talked about the Chef Ambassador Series campaign, the two culinary masters formed their groups by picking some members of the audience. Then they went to work in their own cooking stations, cooking up their own healthy and easy-to-prepare dish with Chefs Kalel and Mikel as coaches. No, it was not a competition. It was a mere exercise that proved how easy it is to whip up dishes when fresh and healthy ingredients, such as olive oil, are available.
Highlight of the event was the buffet dinner, where the two featured recipes—Chef Kalel’s Spanish Style Balsamic Bangus Belly and Chef Mikel’s Mojo Chicken—served as the main dishes. I got to taste them both, and so did Raff. It was the first official media event which he attended after his stroke and he was happy to be among friends once again. Both dishes were flavorful and guilt-free because they made use of healthy ingredients, particularly olive oil and healthy meats, and they proved that light and healthy could be delicious.
“We are honored to have Chef Kalel and Chef Mikel for Doña Elena. We are proud of their accomplishments that marked the Philippines in the culinary map of the world. We are also confident that this initiative is a great way to connect with our consumers by introducing relateable dishes crafted by our very own local chefs. We hope that they’ll be inspired to create dishes with elevated flavors that the whole family will love,” says Fly Ace Corporation’s group category manager for oils Zen Prudentino.
Assistant vice president for marketing Abbie Ng-Reyes adds: “We are proud that Doña Elena continues to be the country’s most trusted brand for olive oil not just by our loyal consumers but even by today’s most renowned local chefs. The overwhelming response from our consumers remain to inspire us to bring the best of the Mediterranean cuisine’s ingredients to Filipino homes.”
After this initial salvo of the Chef Ambassadors Series, it will continue to feature techniques and personal recipes of highly respected chefs that show just how easy it is to prepare truly special home-cooked meals. These recipes are something I personally look forward to as I prepare healthy and delicious dishes for Raff, who is recovering nicely from the adverse effects of stroke. With a good, balanced diet, he should recover completely in no time at all.