Master Chefs Share Their Recipes
Via Maya Kitchen’s Culinary Elite Series

Celebrity chefs featured in Maya Kitchen's Culinary Elite Series, clockwise from top left: Chef Myke 'Tatung' Sarthou, Chef Gene Gonzalez, Chef Claude Tayag and Chef Jessie Sincioco

Celebrity chefs featured in Maya Kitchen’s Culinary Elite Series, clockwise from top left: Chef Myke ‘Tatung’ Sarthou, Chef Gene Gonzalez, Chef Claude Tayag and Chef Jessie Sincioco

WE often look at celebrity chefs are some kind of culinary demigods who are up there, unreachable, and their dishes so complicated that only they can prepare and serve them. But some of the country’s top chefs have proven that this is not so—and that they are human, down-to-earth and willing to share their recipes and cooking techniques with anyone who is interested—via The Maya Kitchen’s Culinary Elite Series. The cooking class series has also allowed them to show how classic Filipino dishes can be tweaked to transform them from ordinary to extraordinary contemporary creations.

Chef Gene Gonzalez

Chef Gene Gonzalez

Chef Gene Gonzalez's Adobo Diablo

Chef Gene Gonzalez’s Adobo Diablo

Imagine Chef Gene Gonzalez of Café Ysabel and Center for Asian Culinary Studies (CACS) dishing out a unique adobo dish which he calls Adobo Diablo. While adobo can be cooked in many different ways, with different regions adding their own flair and flavor to the iconic national dish, Chef Gene, through his Culinary Elite Series: Culinary Gems from Old Pampanga, prepared it the Capampangan way. Adobo is usually prepared by adding soy sauce to flavor and darken the broth, but this very practice is considered a culinary crime in many Capampangan households, where a cook who puts soy sauce in his (or her) adobo becomes the subject of gossips. The Capampangan Adobo Diablo is prepared by constant simmering of various meats and deglazing of the pan with stock to come up with a tasty caramelized liquid that gives the meat a deep reddish-brown hue, and the meats are served with the sauce on the side.

Chef Jessie Sincioco

Chef Jessie Sincioco

Chef Jessie Sincioco's Tiger Prawns with Laing

Chef Jessie Sincioco’s Tiger Prawns with Laing

Then there’s Chef Jessie Sincioco, who runs her own Chef Jessie Rockwell Club and Top of the Citi and who served His Holiness Pope Francis during the Pontiff’s most recent Papal Visit to the Philippines. She presented Tiger Prawns with Laing during her Culinary Elite Series: Chef Jessie’s Christmas Menu, basing it on the traditional Bicolano vegetable dish made with dried taro leaves, coconut milk, shrimp paste, pork belly fat and chili peppers. The prawns are cut through the back and grilled until half-cooked before being stuffed with laing, then baked and finished off with parsley and sili.

Chef Myke 'Tatung' Sarthou

Chef Myke ‘Tatung’ Sarthou

Chef Tatung Sarthou's Pancit Pusit

Chef Tatung Sarthou’s Pancit Pusit

Another celebrity chef who has starred in his own Maya Kitchen Culinary Elite Series happens to be Chef Michael Giovan Sarthou III, also known as Chef Myke ‘Tatung’ Sarthou, who plays around with another big Pinoy favorite—pancit (noodles)! He prepares it the way Caviteños do, making Pancit Pusit by bathing rice noodles in rich squid ink sauce, topping the noodles with vegetables, crushed chicharon, squid rings and kamias slices in his Culinary Elite Series: Chef Tatung Revisits Pinoy Classics. Stressing the importance of using native ingredients, the culinary heritage advocate and Agos chef-owner first sautés the squid over high fire before adding vinegar, soy sauce, fish sauce and then the squid ink to the pan. Once it boils, a cup of water is added and the noodles are mixed in. Finally, he sprinkles crushed chicharon and garlic on the noodles for garnish.

Chef Claude Tayag

Chef Claude Tayag

Chef Claude Tayag's Lumpiang Sariwa

Chef Claude Tayag’s Lumpiang Sariwa

Chef Claude Tayag is another culinary heritage advocate and showed this in his Culinary Elite Series: From Kapampangan Palate to an Artist’s Palette—An Update on Four Pampango Dishes. He put a spin on Lumpiang Sariwa by using green papaya as base and also including sautéed tokwa strips and garbanzos to go with the carrots, beans and shrimps in achuete oil. Topped with beansprouts, crushed peanuts, cilantro and a sauce made from sugar, soy sauce, water and cornstarch, the filling is served on fresh lettuce leaves (like lumpiang hubad) or wrapped in lumpia wrapper and fried like traditional pritong lumpia.

To learn from culinary masters such as Chefs Gene Gonzalez, Jessie Sincioco, Myke Sarthou and Claude Tayag, sign up for The Maya Kitchen’s Culinary Elite Series. For more information on the Culinary Elite Series and other course offerings, log on to, email or call 892-1185, 892-5011 local 108 or +639296796102.


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Marco Polo Ortigas’ Vu’s Sky Bar
Redefines Nightlife in the Metro

Aperitivo-4MARCO Polo Ortigas Manila redefines the nightlife scene in the metro by taking the pre-dinner drinks and appetizers at the hotel’s Vu’s Sky Bar and Lounge, located at the 45th Floor, to new heights with an Italian ritual to enjoy.

Vu’s Sky Bar and Lounge now features a wide array of Italian appetizers, paired with a free flow of local draft beer or house wine. Inspired by the Antipasti Misto Buffet, the after-office menu includes a mix of starters—from seafood to cold cuts and bread—that are specifically curated and prepared by the hotel’s kitchen team. It is available in a la carte from Monday to Wednesday and in buffet from Thursday to Saturday, from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. at Php899. As a bonus, guests even get to enjoy an unobstructed view of the metro, as Vu’s Sky Bar and Lounge provides a panoramic view of the cityscape. The view is awe-inspiring, and the mood is relaxing.

Aperitivo-3Aperitivo-2Aperitivo-5Aperitivo-1Vu’s Sky Bar and Lounge also invites guests to enjoy its Happy Hour from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. with its vast selection of cocktails, wines and other spirits, together with a well-curated lineup of dishes that provide a good mix of Filipino, Spanish and other Mediterranean favorites. The bar offers 50% off on its wide variety of beverages during Happy Hour so get-togethers with friends and colleagues are sure to be fun, relaxing and enjoyable.


(Marco Polo Ortigas Manila is located at Meralco Ave. corner Sapphire St., Ortigas Center, Pasig City; with telephone number 720-7777. Book online via or email

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Chicken Sotanghon Soup
(Good Life)

Chicken Sotanghon Soup made with Good Life Vermicelli

Chicken Sotanghon Soup made with Good Life Premium Vermicelli

WHEN the weather is gloomy and the rain is pounding outside, nothing beats a bowl of hot, comforting soup—more so if it is loaded with chicken and sotanghon (vermicelli) to keep the tummy warm, full and satisfied.

Good Life -PREMIUM-VERMICELLI-250gWell, this recipe of Chicken Sotanghon Soup from Good Life will come in handy on a rainy afternoon. The Good Life product line, which includes different kinds of noodles made with premium ingredients, is exclusively distributed in the Philippines by Fly Ace Corporation. This recipe, which is one of many easy-to-follow recipes developed by the chefs of Good Life, makes use of Good Life premium vermicelli, which is better known as sotanghon.

6 cloves garlic, minced
1 pc. red onion, chopped
4-5 cups shrimp stock
4-5 cups chicken stock
1 cup rehydrated wood ear fungus, sliced
1-1/2 cups flaked chicken meat
250 grams Good Life Premium Vermicelli
250 grams medium-sized shrimps, shelled
1 Tbsp. powdered achuete powder
1 pc. carrot, thinly sliced
fish sauce
white ground pepper
fried toasted garlic

1. Put a little oil in a pot, and sauté garlic and onions.
2. Pour in 4 cups shrimp stock and 4 cups chicken stock, and add wood ear fungus.
3. Add chicken and vermicelli, and cook for 4 minutes.
4. Add shrimps and cook for another 3 minutes. Add additional stock if needed.
5. Get 1/2 cup soup from the pot and put in a cup, add achuete powder and stir until dissolved.
6. Add achuete mixture and carrots to the soup, season with fish sauce and white ground pepper, then top with toasted garlic.Chicken Sotanghon Soup top view


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Make Healthy Fresh Cheeses
with Top Quality California Milk

Homemade butter made using Real Caifornia Milk

Homemade butter made using Real Caifornia Milk

FOR the longest time, we Filipinos knew only a few types of cheese—basically Cheddar, quick-melt and cheese spread, aside from our native kesong-puti. Then came mozzarella cheese with a nice stretch for pizzas and Parmesan cheese for pasta dishes. Now, thanks to the California Milk Advisory Board (CMAB), we have become knowledgeable about quite a number of different California cheeses, which have at the same time become readily available in the local market in recent years.

Not contented with just educating Filipinos about cheeses, the CMAB, an instrumentality of the California Department of Food and Agriculture funded by California’s 1,300 dairy families, recently staged a cheese forum to teach Filipino cooks how to produce certain types of California cheeses as well. Heading the cheese forum was Mark Todd, dubbed “The Cheese Dude” and a cheese expert and consultant for respected dairy organizations in America.

Todd first discussed the uniqueness of different types of California cheeses—starting from soft and soft ripened cheeses, going to semi-hard then hard cheeses and, finally, Hispanic cheeses. Afterwards, he taught guests how to recreate certain cheeses at home using Real California Milk which, milk producers proudly claim, come from happy cows.

Mark Todd, The Cheese Dude

Mark Todd, The Cheese Dude

“Dairy products made with Real California Milk are packed with flavor because they are produced by well-fed cows from family farms in California. They are filled with nutrients like protein, calcium, Vitamin D and potassium that are needed by both children and adults, according to MyPlate, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s food guide,” explains Reji Retugal-Onal, CMAB country representative, while The Cheese Dude taught everyone how to recreate Quick Homemade Butter, Homemade Queso Blanco and Whole Milk Ricotta during the cheese forum.

“The availability of California cheeses in most supermarkets gives you the convenience of adding more texture and flavor to your dish when you need it. However, in case you’re looking for a specific taste for your dish, you can experiment creating your own cheese using Real California Milk at home,” says Todd.

Real California Milk, produced by happy cows, is used to make California Cheese. The cows are happy because the climate of California combined with the specialized care given by farmers to their cows allow their milk to attain its premium quality. Part of the milk produced in the state is packaged and marketed as California Milk products, while part of the milk production is used to make California Cheese. Having been producing cheese for more than 200 years, California is now the largest farming state and leading milk producer in the United States and California Cheese has become the largest and fastest growing category of all the state’s milk and milk product categories. In the Philippines, California dairy products are available in leading supermarkets nationwide, including Rustan’s, S&R, Robinsons Supermarket and SM.

Making homemade butter with top quality California Milk as major ingredient

Making homemade butter with top quality California Milk as major ingredient


Equipment needed:
Mixer/Food Processor (or jar to shake)

Heavy cream, preferably fresh and organic

1. Leave the cream out for a bit so that it warms to around 50˚F.
2. Pour cream into the mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Put a cover oer the mixer, so that you do not splatter cream all over the kitchen. Alternately, you can pour the cream into a jar you can shake. This will take longer, but your arms will get a good workout, and you can make it a family project.
3. Set on medium-high and whisk for 5 to 7 minutes. You can over-whip the cream.
4. Strain the butter into a bowl, making sure all the liquid runs out. Then set aside the liquid. That liquid is homemade uber fresh buttermilk!
5. Rinse the butter with water to remove any excess liquid.
6. Knead the butter with a spatula to bring together the curds. This does not take long, just a minute or two. If you wish to salt your butter, now is a good time to do so.

Homemade Queso Blanco

Homemade Queso Blanco


Non-reactive 6-quart stock pot
Instant-read or dairy thermometer
Flexible wire, long handle stainless steel whisk
Food-grade flexible blade rubber spatula
Mesh strainer or colander
Cheese cloth
Metal bowl or plastic bucket

1 gallon whole mik
1/3 + 1/8 cup apple cider vinegar
4 tsps. kosher salt

1. In a large pot, slowly heat whole milk to 190˚F, about 20 to 25 minutes. Go low and slow, stirring often.
2. Incorporate 1/3 cup vinegar evenly. Turn off gas and let sit for 10 minutes. At this point, curds are separating from the whey, which is becoming greenish and mosty clear. If the whey remains very cloudy, add another 1/8 cup vinegar and allow to set for another 10 minutes.
3. With a strainer ladle, gently remove curds to a dampened cheese cloth-lined strainer placed over a bowl, adding salt as curd is added.
4. Place loose curd ball in cheese cloth, press into cheese mold, and drain for 1 hour.
5. Flip cheese in mold. Press with sterile 1 lb. weight (e.g. bottle full of water) for 1 hour.
6. Serve or continue pressing for up to 4 hours. Refrigerate, tightly covered, for up to 3 to 4 days.



Ricotta is a simple, fresh cheese that takes little time to make. It is best when used within a few days while its flavor is bright and the texture is still moist and creamy. Traditionally, ricotta is made by reheating whey (ricotta means cooked in Italian) after making other cheeses though it takes a fair amount of whey to yield a usable amount of ricotta. This home-crafted formula using whole milk and citric acid is very basic. If you like an even richer and creamier ricotta, try making it exclusively with heavy cream. If you don’t have citric acid, use lemon juice for coagulation.

For the milk, use raw or pasteurized whole cow’s milk. An alternative milk that can be used is pasteurized goat’s milk or raw goat’s milk, if you have a reliable source, that is.

From start to finish, the process of making the cheese will take 1 hour; while draining the cheese will take 20 to 30 minutes or until desired consistency is reached. Yield of this recipe is 1 lb.

Non-reactive heavy core bottom 6-quart stock pot
Instant-read or dairy thermometer
Flexible wire, long handle stainless steel whisk
Food- grade flexible blade rubber spatula
Mesh strainer or colander
Butter muslin
Metal bowl or plastic bucket as sink
Wooden spoon for hanging cheese

1 gallon pasteurized whole cow’s milk, at room temperature
1/2 cup heavy cream (no fillers or stabilizers)
1 tsp. citric acid powder
1 tsp. kosher salt

1. Combine the room-temperature milk, cream, citric acid, and salt, then combine thoroughly with a whisk; using the up and down method.
2. Place in non-reactive pot and, over medium-low heat, slowly heat milk to 185 to 195˚F, about 15 to 20 minutes. Stir frequently with a flexible rubber spatula to prevent scorching. As milk reaches around 150˚F, curds will start to form.
3. As temperature gets closer to 185 to 195˚F, curds and whey will show a dramatic separation. The whey will be yellowish-green and just slightly cloudy. If the whey is too cloudy, add a pinch more of citric acid and stir down into the whey to cause more curds to form. Turn off heat.
4. Gently run a rubber spatula around the edge of the curds to rotate the mass, and then let the curds set without disturbing them for 10 minutes.
5. Line a colander or strainer with water-dampened butter muslin. Carefully ladle the curds into the colander, being careful not to break up the curds. Use a long handle mesh skimmer to capture the last of the curds. If any curds are stuck to the bottom of the pan, leave them there. You don’t want scorched curds flavoring your cheese.
6. Drain for 5 minutes, then gently toss the curds with 1 tsp. kosher salt. Be mindful not to break up the curds in the process.
7. Tie two opposite corners of the butter muslin into a knot and repeat with the other two corners. Slip a dowel or wooden spoon through the knot and then suspend the bag over the whey-catching receptacle.
8. Drain curds for 5 to 10 minutes or until the desired consistency has been reached. If a moist ricotta is desired, stop draining just as the whey stops dripping. If a drier ricotta is desired, or if the cheese is being used to make Ricotta Salata, let curds drain for a longer period.
9. Transfer the cheese to a lidded container. Cover and store in refrigerator for up to 1 week.

*Note: If a moist, plump curd is desired, first heat the milks to 180˚, and then add the citric acid. Add the salt when draining the curds.


(To learn more about California Milk products, please get in touch with Ms. Reji Retugal-Onal at 534-8534 or 534-8223, email her at or log on to


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Fusilli with Anchovy Caper Sauce
(Doña Elena)

Fusilli with Anchovy Caper Sauce

Fusilli with Anchovy Caper Sauce

THOUGHT thick, tomato-based sauces are only great for pasta?

They are delicious on rice, as well. And the best thing about it is that they are healthy and easy-to-prepare. Just follow a few simple steps and you’ve got a one-dish meal that’s sure to satisfy even the most discriminating palate.

Here’s one such recipe from Doña Elena, a line of premium Mediterranean food products that includes Black and Green Olives, Capers, Olive Oil, Flat Fillets in Anchovies, Spanish Sardines and Canned Tomatoes. These are exclusively distributed in the Philippines by Fly Ace Corporation and are available in all leading supermarkets nationwide.

This recipe of Fusilli with Anchovy Caper Sauce, courtesy of of Doña Elena will come in handy during these ‘ber’ months, when things get busier and preparing elaborate dishes get more difficult.

1 Tbsp. Doña Elena Pure Olive Oil
1/2 stick butter
1/2 pc. white onion, thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1/2 tsp. dried tarragon
8 fillets Doña Elena Anchovies, mashed
2 Tbsps. Doña Elena Capers, drained
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
pepper to taste
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 pc. lemon, juiced
1 pack Doña Elena Al Dente Fusilli pasta, cooked
pasta water (from boiling the pasta)
Doña Elena Extra Virgin Olive Oil for drizzling

1. Heat pan to medium low. Add a drizzle of Doña Elena Pure Olive Oil and butter.
2. When butter melts, add onion, garlic half of the chopped parsley, tarragon and mashed anchovies. Cover and cook until onion becomes soft.
3. Add capers, cherry tomatoes, pepper and salt. Continue cooking, uncovered.
4. When the sauce begins to thicken, squeeze a little lemon juice on it, and add a ladle of starchy pasta water (*the water where the pasta has been cooked) from the pot, and stir it in.
5. Stir in the cooked fusilli pasta. Drizzle with Doña Elena Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Sprinkle with the remaining parsley, then toss until well combined.

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