Taal Vista Hotel 75th Anniversary Banquet: Filipino Cuisine Re-imagined

Taal Vista Hotel 75th Anniversary Banquet: Filipino Cuisine Re-imagined

Sitting from left to right: Chef Babes Austria, Elizabeth Sy President of SM Hotels and Conventions Corporation, Walid Wafik Area General Manager of Taal Vista Hotel, Chefs Jackie and Rolando Laudico. Standing from left to right: Chef Sau del Rosario, Chef Bruce Lim, Chef Fernando Aracama and Edwin Santos Executive Chef of Taal Vista Hotel

Sitting from left to right: Chef Babes Austria, Elizabeth Sy President of SM Hotels and Conventions Corporation, Walid Wafik Area General Manager of Taal Vista Hotel, Chefs Jackie and Rolando Laudico.
Standing from left to right: Chef Sau del Rosario, Chef Bruce Lim, Chef Fernando Aracama and Edwin Santos Executive Chef of Taal Vista Hotel

When in Manila and wanting to go out of town to a cool yet accessible place, what is the best place to go to? Tagaytay, of course!

This coming October, Taal Vista Hotel will be celebrating their golden anniversary with a bang! Located just 2 hours away from Manila, it is an excellent choice if you want to escape the hustle and bustle of the metro even just for the weekend and these coming months would be ideal as 7 local celebrity chefs will take over the reigns of the kitchen and their new Magnolia Steakhouse will be opened in May. It will surely provide the guests with culinary delights. Just imagine: fancy food along with perfectly grilled Tagaytay beef. I’m drooling already. Hopefully when they have another press invite for their Magnolia Steakhouse opening, this humble servant will be invited again… Ha ha!

Last Sunday, this humble servant was invited to join the press banquet to try out the delectable dishes that invited celebrity guests will be serving during their weekend manning the kitchen for Taal Vista Hotel’s 75th Anniversary Grand Buffet, in which I was more than happy to oblige.

Fun fact: The Taal Vista Hotel was known as  Taal Vista Lodge when it was first opened in 1939 and was the place to be for the rich and the beautiful.

A complementary pineapple juice served inside a pineapple is always a good thing.

A complementary pineapple juice served inside a pineapple is always a good thing.

It was a cool and cloudy day when we left Manila. Being a frequent visitor of Tagaytay, I knew the travel time too much and estimated that since it was on a weekend, it would take two hours including the traffic, so a nap was in order. I woke up when we arrived and it was cold, cold and windy, it was a bad idea to leave my jacket at home that day. Luckily, after the complementary pineapple juice and the amouse-bouche by Chef Edwin Santos, the staff was more than accommodating by offering me a sports jacket when they saw me shivering; I’m not really a “Guest” guest of the the hotel but that is what I call service!

Chef Edwin Santos is the current Executive Chef of Taal Vista Hotel. Carrying with him exceptional knowledge and techniques honed for over thirty years working for top international hotels both here and abroad, Chef Edwin Santos will tingle your taste buds with his fusion of Filipino and Western flavors this coming September 6 & 7/ September 27 & 28.

Insider Info: 1 lucky hotel guest a month until October will have the chance to stay for the night for only PHP 75.00, no kidding! 

At first glance, I thought that there was a wedding reception being celebrated over the veranda.

At first glance, I thought that there was a wedding reception being celebrated over the veranda.

As we were ushered to the banquet after a brief presentation about the history of Tagaytay, in general, and of Taal Vista HotelI initially mistook the banquet from a distance as a lucky couple’s wedding reception at the veranda overlooking the vista (I see what you did there) but when we arrived, all I can say that it is not too shabby at all and what a spread it was.

The waiting staff, serving you with militaristic precision.

The waiting staff, serving you with love, care and militaristic precision.

After locating our assigned seats, a brief introduction and light chit-chat with other members of the media, the food was about to be served. The theme of the day is Filipino cuisine and at the heart of it was local. Fish from Tagaytay lake, locally sourced meat from the market and vegetables from the hotel’s vegetable garden.

Chef Sau Del Rosario, you might know him as an endorser of a local ice cream brand.

Chef Sau del Rosario, you might know him as an endorser of a local ice cream brand *hint* *hint*

First at bat was Chef Sau del Rosario, a native of Pampanga, who learned his craft at the Culinary Institute of America, earned his degree at the University of the Philippines and honed his skills further in various restaurants in France. Now the Executive Chef of F1 Hotel Manila, you can catch Chef Sau manning the kitchen on September 20 & 21/ September 27 & 28.

First Course by Chef Sau del Rosario: Lapu-Lapu Rillette Kapampangan

First Course by Chef Sau del Rosario: Lapu-Lapu Rillette Kapampangan

For the first course of the day, we were served Chef Sau’s Lapu-Lapu Rilette Kampampangan. A rillette is usually done with meat slowly cooked in fat until it is tender enough to be shredded then cooled to have a paste like consistency. Here, Chef Sau displayed French techniques my making a rillette out of Lapu-Lapu and as I’ve researched, you can also use fish for this dish but not really with the local Grouper or Lapu-Lapu making this somewhat a local dish interpreted in a more sophisticated manner. And I loved every tasty morsel of it.

For more of Chef Sau del Rosario, you can also check out this out: LUZVIMINDA – A Festival of Pinoy Flavors at F1 Hotel Manila

Chef Babes Austria

Chef Babes Austria is the former Executive Chef of Taal Vista Hotel and the Malacañang Palace and thus making this experience “Presidential”.

Aside from being the former Executive Chef of both Taal Vista Hotel and the Malacañang Palace, Chef Babes Austria also served 23 years in the government as the Assistant Secretary of the Department of Budget and Management, the Congress of the Philippines and the Department of Welfare and Development. And to further rub it in aside from being a top chef, she also holds multiple degrees and obtained a Bachelor of Science in Commerce and a Bachelor of Laws and Master’s Degree in Public Administration and Economics.

Can we call her a Super Chef?

She will be taking over the kitchen on October 4 & 5/ October 11 & 12.

Second Course by Chef Babes Austria: Crunchy Cheese Triangle - A rice paper filled with fresh water wild fern, prawn, water buffalo cheese served with a creamy salted egg dip. Ensaladang Tagalog - shredded fresh green mango, smoked fish, salted water buffalo cheese encased in filo dough.

Second Course by Chef Babes Austria:
Crunchy Cheese Triangle – A rice paper filled with fresh water wild fern, prawn, water buffalo cheese served with a creamy salted egg dip.
Ensaladang Tagalog – shredded fresh green mango, smoked fish, salted water buffalo cheese encased in filo dough.

My favorite dish of the day. At first glance, it looked oily and heavy as most Filipino dishes are but on the contrary, it was light, crunchy and not oily. Even after a few days later, the single most memorable component for me of all the dishes that were served was the creamy salted egg dip. I don’t exactly know how it was done but having that hint of mustard and the creaminess and the saltiness of sauce just made the dish and I just loved it.

 In simplest terms, the fanciest and tastiest tinapa ensalada I ever had.

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