For the first time ever, all of Asia's Best Female Chefs were on the same stage to support the UNICEF Philippines Children's Ball. The event aims to raise P10,000,000 for building One-Stop-Shop Centers for Children with Disabilities in Manila, Davao, and Cebu!
It was a surreal affair, getting to taste the flavors of Bo from Bangkok, Gaita from Manila, Lenshu from Taiwan, and Vicky from Hongkong, all in one dinner for a good cause.
Here's a photo essay of the inaugural UNICEF Children's Ball and how you can continue to support the cause of Children with Disabilities...
The evening started with a beautiful cocktail reception at The Peninsula Manila, courtesy of the country's top luxe lifestyle magazine--Town & Country.
(Check out the Town & Country Cocktails Menu)
Pork Terrine, Truffle Mayonnaise and Fine Herbs by Lanshu Chen
The cocktail showcased the canape creations of the four featured Asia's Best Female Chefs, starting with Lanshu's Pork terrine encased in a mini gelatine-like dome.
Rice Cracker with Minced Pork & Prawn wrapped in Pickled Mustard Green Leaves by Bo Songvisava
Bo created an unusual cracker topped with a mieng kham-type appetizer and fruits.
With the man of the hour, Patrick Pesengco, who conceptualized the whole event and shared his relentless passion supporting UNICEF's program on Children with Disabilities.
Piaya & Goose Liver Inasal, Sinamak-infused Guava & Santol Mostarda by Margarita Forés
I love piaya and Gaita's canape creation did not fail to impress, with fruity flavors of local guava and santol.
Tomato Panna Cotta with Strawberries and Iberico Ham by Vicky Lau
It was unanimous that the winner of the canape battle was Vicky Lau's tomato in a cone-shaped pannacota with micro greens and little tomato on top.
Lego Silent Bidding. A unique Lego Creation featuring Children with Disabilities and built using over 41,000 bricks.
(Can you guess the highest bidder who took this creation home?)
The Rigodon Ballroom of Manila Peninsula was designed like a dreamy wonderland with white trees, cloudy balloon formation, and a floral garden centerpiece.
The menu was folded into a paper "fortune teller", invoking childhood memories and setting the mood for the evening.
(Check out the UNICEF Children's Ball Menu)
The award-winning Woodrose Chorale sang a touching prayer song and the Philippine National Anthem to open the Dinner Event, hosted by Pinky Webb of CNN.
UNICEF Philippines Representative Lotta Sylwander leading the pitch for donors to donate more money to build a National Center for Children with Disabilities (P10,000,000).
The Center will be a one-stop-shop complete with services such as diagnosis, assistive devices, counseling, and theraphy.
I like the sparkling Piccini Prosecco Vino Spumante Extra Dry that was served throughout the night.
The path of Bo Songvisava to where she is now was rigorous and laborious, impeded as well by a number of apprehensions. Never one to stay in one place for too long in her youth, Songvisava had jumped from a degree in English and French to restaurant and catering, shuttling between Bangkok and Australia post-studies when steady employment was an issue. Finally, she would come to meet Amanda Gale, who helped her land in Nahm in London, where she would meet her husband Dylan Jones. The couple returned to a Thailand whose local dining landscape consisted of either cliche Thai entrees or traditionally seasoned fare, though eaten right by the streets. Songvisava’s idea was then to create a space where food characteristic of her homeland, could be experienced in a befitting setting. She and her husband then set up Bo.lan. Hand in hand with her restaurant, Songvisava became the purveyor of the country’s slow food movement, whose ripples have since grown into larger swells throughout the years. Working in close contact with local farmers, her constantly changing menu illustrates her advocacy for the use of bio-diversified produce. Songvisava has only great things in mind for Thai dining, and her firm dedication to the craft sees a bright and unwavering future for Thai dining.
Bo Songvisava is Asia’s Best Female Chef 2013.
Appetizer: Sticky Rice Dumpling, Crispy Pancake and Grilled Chicken Paneang by Bo Songvisava
This tasted authentically Thai, a play on Bo's favorite childhood dishes growing up in Bangkok. Everyone loved it! :)
I like to eat it one at a time progressing from bland, to salty, to something spicy. Some preferred to eat a little bit of each to balance out the flavors.
My date for the night was extra pretty with her long black dress and red lips.
Daphne Oseña-Paez, UNICEF Special Advocate for Children, sharing the plight of children with disabilities.
Did you know that 1 out of 7 children or around 5.1 Million Filipino children are living with disabilities?
One cannot speak of Manila’s dining scene without mentioning the sprightly Margarita Fores. Constantly curious and intrepid, Fores’ culinary escapades began in 1986, when she set course for Italy to learn the country’s language and cuisine. In the years that followed her return to the Philippines, Fores set up her gastronomic repertoire, which would come to include Cibo, one of the country’s well-known restaurant chains, recognized for accessible Italian dining; and Cibo di M Signature Catering, which has set up meals for the likes of high pro le personalities such as the King and Queen of Spain, US President Barack Obama, and the Emperor and Empress of Japan. In the last decade, she has come to champion the local farm-to-table movement, through her constant interaction with farmers across various Philippine regions—her most recent undertaking, Grace Park, being a true testament to that. Because of Margarita Fores’s experience and active participation in furthering the country’s dining scene, she has come to represent the nation in numerous internationally recognized engagements such as the Salone del Gusto in Torino, International Green Week in Berlin, and the Madrid Fusion in Spain.
Margarita Forés is Asia’s Best Female Chef 2016.
Seafood: Pan-roasted Bohol White Marlin, Guinataan of Blue Crab, Corn and Bamboo Shoot by Margarita Forés
I personally love this because of the juicy piece of White Marlin, with the blue crab and the taba ng talangka (crab fat) sauce.
(The reception for this was mixed though because some guests apparently got a tiny piece of marlin, which was a bit dry and also over seared)
Anne Curtis, UNICEF Celebrity Advocate for Children, interviewing Bella and her sister Candice, who quit school to support her sister full time. Everyone was crying after hearing their story.
Lanshu Chen’s inquisitiveness in the kitchen may have been seeded at an early age, through her mother and grandmother, but it’s only after finishing four years of Foreign Literature that she pursued a career in cooking. Her devotion for the craft led her to Paris, the city of her desires. There, she immersed herself in the culinary world, first receiving a diploma from Le Cordon Bleu for pastry, then moving on to École Grégoire-Ferrandi for a full culinary course. The range of Chen’s restaurant training grounds, post-culinary studies, stretches from the elusive Relais d’Auteuil to the globally known French Laundry in Napa Valley. Upon returning to Taiwan, Chen opened up Le Moût, a gastronomic love letter to her Taiwanese foundation, and her fondness for French cuisine. Here, Chen puts a premium on the changing seasons, and the gifts that each time brings. Every creation Chen creates has deeply rooted references to her past, that lead to present discoveries, and forthcoming adventures. “The birth of each dish is just like the extension of every step in my life,” she says, “Or I can say, it is a footprint of nuance in the journey of self-searching.”
Lanshu Chen is Asia’s Best Female Chef 2014.
Meat: US Black Angus Tenderloin Mushrooms, Mustard Greens and Mushroom by Lanshu Chen
I enjoyed this big piece of tenderloin steak with chopped mushrooms and mustard greens. It took a while to be served but it was worth the wait.
Gary Valenciano, UNICEF National Ambassador, serenaded the donors one last time to open their hearts and wallet to donate to UNICEF's cause.
Creativity shines through in all forms and function. In the case of Vicky Lau, her creativity first manifested as a graphic designer. Having finished a degree in Graphic Communications at New York University, Lau first ventured into the swift-paced world of advertising before acting on her fondness for food. She graduated from Bangkok’s Le Cordon Bleu, then worked the kitchen at Michelin-starred Cépage in Hong Kong, where she was acclaimed as one of the country’s rising chefs. A few years later, she opened the now-Michelin recognized Tate Dining Room & Bar, which fuses French and Asian cuisines. Never one to lose sight of her creative beginnings, Lau is notorious for creating verses of edible poetry through her meals, meticulously detailing the interplay between flavors, textures, and aroma. “We seek the freedom to explore our world through our cooking, free from the mandatory rigor of these rules. Like a painting, food is a canvas for expression, triggering memories, emotions, and our limitless imagination.
Vicky Lau is Asia’s Best Female Chef 2015.
Dessert: Honey Lemon Candy by Vicky Lau
The dessert was awesome and too cute to eat inspired by the Honey Bee. It was fun to eat the honey lemon cake and eating with bits of crunch, chocolate and ice cream.
Awesome Congratulations and Thank You to all the Asia's Best Female Chefs for visiting Manila to support the inaugural UNICEF Children's Ball!
Live an Awesome Life,
Disclosure: I wrote this article with my biases, opinions, and insights.
P.S. Here's how you can donate and support UNICEF's National Center for Children with Disabilities...
You can contact Maita Salcedo of UNICEF Philippines at +63 917 874-2408, +632 901-0146, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.