FEATURE: Celebrating Independence Day through French dishes with a Filipino twist

Food, and sharing food, has always been a huge part of the Filipino culture.

There’s something so personal about sharing a meal between people that it becomes a bridge in building great relationships. 

Which is why it’s the one thing that is never missing during meetings, family gatherings, and parties as Filipinos do really love to celebrate with food. 

Food—it simply brings everyone together.

So if you’re looking for a place to relish in patriotism on Independence Day while of course enjoying great food to remind you of home, come to Cristoforo at The Monarch Hotel in Calasiao, Pangasinan as it offers international dishes made with a Filipino twist. 

The hotel thought of celebrating Filipino spirit through the flavors that people love that is why it invited a celebrity chef in the making and a future influencer in the craft.

Chef Leonard Vincent Garcia or “Chef Vince,” who operates Rainforest Kichene, Velvet Ganache and En Croute Café, is the hotel’s guest chef for the week.

“We, as Filipinos, normally, we share everything over the food. By sharing our food, we share our experiences. Food is very important to us. At the end of the day, we want to satisfy our cravings,” he shared.

“Filipinos love long cooking because we believe most of our dishes are prepared for a family. We gather everything on a table with food that is what makes a meeting special,” he added. 

As a European-themed hotel, The Monarch prepares French dishes with a Filipino twist and a Kapampangan touch (since the guest chef is from Pampanga) for the hotel’s lunch or dinner buffet which the guests could enjoy from June 10 to 14 for the five-day observance of Independence Day. 

Chef Vince cooked the following dishes for the Media Friends’ Lunch last Monday to give them a glimpse of his skills and to exhibit his own personal recipes that aim to set the palate on a journey to one’s home. 

These dishes include dinengdeng (an Ilocano vegetable dish) topped with duck confit; Vigan longganisa seafood paella; baked fish; GenSan tuna watermelon ceviche topped with ibe paro feta cheese; bangus (milkfish) au gratin; Garcia tabang talangka pasta drizzle with truffle oil; hasselback potato; ube sampelot pie; and puto Calasiao truffle. 

The chef said he researched for ingredients that are available in the local market in Pangasinan and used them for these dishes as one of the advocacies of the chefs’ organization he belongs to is to support farmers so they could have a ready market to sell their produce.

Chef Vince highlighted the “sampelot,” or “bilo-bilo” in Tagalog, a dessert made with ube and pie, saying it is remarkable for him because it was his mom’s signature recipe which reminds him of his childhood memories as he used to sell it when he was a kid. 

“Bringing my mom’s recipe for other people and the guests makes me feel so proud. I learned it from my mom kaya ipapasa ko rin sa anak ko, kasi you have to be generous… hindi pwedeng mamatay kaya ipasa mo,” he narrated. 

So for those who want to enjoy an array of European dishes cooked with local ingredients of Pangasinan and sealed with a Cabalen touch, come to The Monarch Hotel for a unique dining experience. Chef Vince has shared his expertise with the hotel chefs to offer a superb buffet array at Php999.00 per person.

Lunch is served from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and dinner is at 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. 

The Monarch Hotel, a four-star hotel with a five-star customer service, is located at MacArthur Highway, San Miguel village in Calasiao town just across the Robinsons Place Pangasinan. By the way, the place is also Instagram-worthy as it takes one back to the streets of Europe.