More than three decades ago, Ricky Gutierrez opened the doors to Chateau 1771 on the first floor of Malate Pensionne along Adriatico in Manila. It became somewhat of a home to the habitués of this neighborhood, which at the time, was a hotbed of Bohemian tastes and culture.
With a cuisine that is not exactly French, the restaurant attracted a crowd of artists that included the likes of Onib Olmedo, who hankered for Chef Vicky Pacheco’s signature Lemon Chicken. Since then, Gutierrez has transported the restaurant a few more times, the most recent being its new Bonifacio Global City digs.
We sat down with the restaurateur about the new Chateau, his personal favorites, and how one must evolve with the times.
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You've moved Chateau 1771 to different parts of the metro over 30 years. Why’d you move so much?
The market was moving. At that time we were in Malate, and the place was jumping. It was the tourist belt. The bay area was where all the top hotels, bars, and the discos were at the time. It was the place to go—Malate was Greenwich in New York. But things changed. Traffic affected the frequency of our customers from Makati and Ortigas. ADB was moving to Ortigas, and ADB was a big source of customers. So we decided to move with ADB to Ortigas.
In 2007, the Greenbelt area was going through its own redevelopment and we were offered a really nice space in Greenbelt 5. So we decided to move Chateau there. And then the PSE decided to move to BGC in 2018, and Shangri-La opened a new hotel at the Fort. And the location offered to us has The Suites at One Bonifacio High Street, which is supposed to be the most expensive residential condominium in BGC, so we’re right underneath it. The potential of the PSE and the Suites, and the beautiful view our location made me decide to move Chateau to its current location in One Bonifacio High Street mall.
Do you think your key patrons have changed over the years?
Yes. A lot of our key patrons have passed on to the next world. But it’s their children and grandchildren who are patronizing us. So we also have to change and evolve with our current customers.
Has the food itself changed over the years?
Yes. Our menu started out as very French. Then we added an international flavor to the dishes, so we expanded it to a No Borders Cuisine philosophy with a French backbone. We took influences from different countries in terms of cuisine and ingredients.
Over the years we added a lot of vegetable dishes and salads, and more cooking methods such as slow food: cocottes, osso bucco, lamb shanks. And because it’s No Borders Cuisine, we create familiar flavors using ingredients that are different from the usual. For example with our Magret de Canard, its sweetness is from the onions and the sourness is from blueberries, instead of lemon and honey. Our guests can also request vegetarian and gluten-free dishes even if they’re not on the menu.
Every branch of Chateau 1771 produced a new signature dish. In Malate it was the Potence, Pasta Chorizo, and Lemon Chicken, and in Ortigas we introduced the Osso Buco. When we moved to Makati, the Vanilla Brick Chicken became a star dish. Our latest menu incorporates more local fish, since we want to support our local fishermen.
Can you tell us more about this new space in BGC?
The new space in BGC is more flexible compared to Greenbelt 5, which was basically a dine-in restaurant. Chateau 1771 BGC caters to different needs. A good example of that would be the function rooms. We now have two function rooms that can accommodate 12 each or expand to a room which can comfortably accommodate a boardroom meeting for 24. It can also expand for a party of 40.
We have two bars—indoor and veranda—with a more extensive collection of wines, gin, and whisky. Our bar offers wine tasting flights, so you can order wines in different portions to pair with your food. The restaurant is capable of having several events at the same time, meaning we have an area where you can have a function for 40. The veranda can accommodate events for 100 people. The outdoor event can happen without encroaching on the privacy of our diners in the restaurant.
Our kitchen is also capable of doing boardroom service in the PSE and room service in The Suites. And then we will also have a Juicery which caters to the health-conscious market. It’s not the typical kind of Juicery; we concocted refreshments that cater to the different requirements of our customers. If you have high blood pressure, we have the right refreshment for you, if you feel fatigued, want to lose weight, or are doing a detox, we have something for you. But if you just want a nice smoothie, we also have that, and we make our smoothies with sugar-free, all-natural yogurt. But the ingredients we use in the Juicery are prime ingredients. Our juices are pure; we don’t use any extenders.
What other immediate plans do you have?
Since we have an increasing demand for catering, we’re building a catering kitchen to be able to address that market. We’re also expanding Sentro and a new branch in Ayala Malls Aseana Bayside, which is between City of Dreams and Solaire. That will open this year. Café 1771 is coming out with a very exciting concept, which is different from the present Café 1771 in Ortigas. Just watch out for it.
Share to us some of your favorites. What’s your favorite wine?
White sauvignon blanc with either raclette, or fish and veggies.
Cook of steak?
Pasta Chorizo and Rated GG from Sentro 1771.
Favorite hotel in the world?
Four Seasons and the Conrad.
Favorite cities in the world?
London, New York, and Paris.
Japanese and Filipino.
Fresh orange juice.
How would describe your personal style?
Casual, friendly, cool, and comfortable. I like wearing tailored shirts and pants, and buying my shirts from abroad.
Favorite clothing brand?
I buy a lot of my shirts from J. Crew when I’m in New York.
What’s on your music playlist?
Alternative music. U2, Sting, Queen. Seventies: The Beatles, Earth, Wind, & Fire, and Chicago.
How do you keep fit?
Walking. I try to get in 60,000 steps a week.
Favorite sports team or athlete?
The Ateneo Blue Eagles basketball team, Ateneo Lady Blue Eagles volleyball team, and the Golden State Warriors!
What’s on your bucket list?
Traveling around Latin America, Cuba, and Eastern Europe.
What dish would you recommend to a Chateau 1771 rookie?
Of course, the specialty of the house Potence. If you’re a meat eater it’s really good. The Pasta Chorizo and the Lemon Chicken.