MANILA -- When it comes to banquet food, caterers need to find the balance between volume and freshness. They need to think of dishes that serve well, prepared ahead of time and in huge quantities.
But caterers today have leveled up their game, serving eats similar to restaurant buffet spreads, which offer fresh food in big volumes. From do-it-yourself salads to freshly prepared pasta.
The Blue Leaf ups the ante even further by offering collaborations with some of the country's best chefs. In partnership with blog site Our Awesome Planet, the events venue paired 11 of its partner caterers with 11 renowned chefs.
“We at The Blue Leaf have so much appreciation for delicious food. Food is at the center of some of life's best moments. Food ties us all together, especially when it's exquisitely made by our country's very own top chefs and caterers,” explained The Blue Leaf managing director Eugene Sandejas.
In a culinary event called “Who's Cooking?” The Blue Leaf revealed the pairing and the special five-course menu collaborations. These collaborations are exclusive to The Blue Leaf.
Chef Chele Gonzalez
One collaboration is between chef Chele Gonzalez and Mesclun Events Catering + Styling. Gonzalez, a well-known Spanish chef in the local culinary scene, is the man behind the award-winning restaurant Gallery Vask, now called Gallery by Chele.
Mesclun, on the other hand, has over 13 years of experience in the catering business, offering modern and high quality eats.
The collaboration resulted in a tapas menu called Tapas 2.0. It's a carefully curated five-course menu that features extraordinary tapas dishes inspired by Basque Cuisine.
Standouts include the Gazpacho Ceviche, which is a strawberry gazpacho with lapu-lapu ceviche; the Uni Txangurro is a combination of sea urchin, txangurro (spider crab), bisque, hollandaise, and sourdough bread; and the Basque Cheesecake, a burnt Basque cheesecake with raspberry gelator, matcha meringue, white chocolate, and almond slivers.
For Gonzalez, it's not easy to create food that is intended for catering. He said he had to create dishes that are tasty and different but at the same time can be executed in high volumes.
“When you execute food for 500 people, it's not like cooking fine dining for 30 people. Every single detail, every single thing that happens, it has to be done several times. You have to do something that is amazing, tasty, different, technical in some way, but at the same time can be executed realistically. If you do something that is amazing but when you're serving hundreds of people, it has to be simple but a little bit more special,” he said.
For all the chefs, it helps that the caterers are open to new ideas but at the same time knows if a certain dish is doable or not.
Chef Tatung Sarthou
Chef Tatung Sarthou is not new to the catering world. He has experience in catering and is still in fact doing catering work. An award-winning author of the best-selling “Philippine Cookery from Heart to Platter,” he also works as a consultant with some of Manila's best restaurants.
“I do a lot of consultancy so at the back of my hand, it's not only creation but also production. It's easy for me to translate recipes, which I can do it for 10 and I can also do it for 500. Perhaps it's part of the way I think so I can create very easy recipes but when you put the components together, the food still shines,” he said.
He was paired with Juan Carlo catering for the collaboration project. Sarthou was able to create a menu that fits the catering company's target clientele. Juan Carlo is known for its high-ends catering services.
One of the dishes that Sarthou created is the Pig and Bananas, which is a plate of torched and honey-glazed pork with longganisang Taal and mofongo (mashed fried plantains). Another is the Sultan's Kiss, a bite-sized serving of Maranao rice with fresh uni, shrimp, and salmon roe.
There's also A Bull of its Horn, a slow-roasted Batangas beef in barako coffee demi-glace and calamansi mostarda.
Chef Natalia Moran
Chef Natalia Moran, on the other hand, was surprised at Passion Cooks' capability to create dishes quickly but still consistent with quality. Moran is the chef of The Sunny Side Cafe Group, the company behind some of Boracay's best restaurants including The Sunny Side Cafe, Supermargic Burgers, and Streetmarket Food Hall.
“It's very different but I was actually surprised that we are cooking for 500, five different courses, in two days okay na. I mean, wow. The difference is they have like a lot of manpower, they have big equipment, and they are used to the logistics so it's easy for them to mass produce,” she said.
Passion Cooks is a catering company known for Filipino comfort food that is why Moran created relatable dishes.
“We wanted to create relatable dishes but something a bit different. So we used common Filipino ingredients and recreated it to something different,” she explained.
Some of the dishes on their collaboration menu include: tinapa pate on tutong rice; Arabica-rubbed roast beef with fried sweet potato and truffle mash; and the guinataan balls in white coconut sauce and cookie crumble.
The other collaborations include: Chef Mikel Zaguirre x Albergus, Chef Ed Bugia x Bizu, Chef Dedet de la Fuente (Lechon Diva) x Center Table Catering, Chef Robby Goco x The Creamery Catering, Chef Josh Boutwood x Hizon's Catering, Chef Nino Laus x K by Cunanan Catering, Chef Kalel Chan x Red Chef, and Chef Francis Lim x Tijoe.