Food & Drink Features

This young Filipina from Leyte is now top chef at Alain Ducasse’s restaurant in Macau

Born, raised, and educated in the Philippines, Safa Nessmarie Rodas heads the kitchen of Voyages by Alain Ducasse in City of Dreams Macau. By NANA OZAETA
ANCX | Jul 09 2020

Around seven years ago, Safa Nessmarie Rodas was just a regular culinary student at Enderun Colleges in McKinley Hill in Taguig. Little did she know then that she would be heading her very own restaurant, and one that bears the name “Alain Ducasse” at that. Ducasse just so happens to be one of the most acclaimed French chefs of his generation, who has parlayed his career as an award-winning chef into a global hospitality empire with over 30 restaurants and more than a dozen Michelin stars to his name.

Rodas was recently appointed head chef of Voyages by Alain Ducasse located at Morpheus Hotel in City of Dreams Macau. It’s no easy feat to be given the leader role at any of Ducasse’s restaurants, most of which have gone to men (primarily French) in the past. So it is an even more impressive feat that the responsibility was handed over to a woman, a Filipina, and one still relatively young. In a press release from Enderun Colleges, Rodas shares, “I am a young Filipina woman, leading a very dynamic and intercultural kitchen team in Macau¾already a challenge in itself¾but as long as I believe in what I can do, and look back to all the lessons I learned, I know I will get through anything.”

Voyages by Alain Ducasse is one of two Ducasse restaurants housed in Morpheus, a stunningly designed hotel which forms part of the sprawling City of Dreams complex in Macau. Inside the hotel, Alain Ducasse has two restaurants, the two Michelin-starred Alain Ducasse at Morpheus, and right next door, Voyages by Alain Ducasse, which is a recipient of a Michelin Plate award.

Morpheus is the world’s first free-form exoskeleton high-rise designed by the late Zaha Hadid.

The menu at Voyages is inspired by Ducasse’s travels around the world, so it seems all the more fitting that Rodas was given the head chef role. She hails from Maasin City in Southern Leyte where her family runs a small restaurant business, and where her mother first inspired her to pursue a culinary career. She moved to Metro Manila to study at Enderun Colleges, and after graduation, took an internship at Benoit New York, a contemporary French bistro by Alain Ducasse.

Thanks to Enderun Colleges’ partnership with Ducasse Education (Ducasse’s culinary education arm based in France), Enderun students are afforded internship opportunities at various Ducasse restaurants around the world, with a number of them being employed afterwards. This is exactly what happened to Rodas who was offered a full-time position at Benoit New York, first as a line cook, then rising through the ranks in six years’ time, to become executive sous chef, before moving to Macau to head the kitchen at Voyages.

Rodas shares her thoughts on her accomplishments so far, “[It’s] more like a path paved for me since I started my culinary journey. I never stopped learning or had a long break since I finished college, basically, I stayed in the kitchen for the past seven years. Things just happened to take its course really fast. I am where I am right now because I’ve put on a lot of hard work and listened to the guidance of my chefs.