It takes a village: The Chef start
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It takes a village: The Chef start

Oct 23, 2023

The Chef concept is truly a community effort, embodying the ‘it takes a village’ concept in full bloom

Chef Rob Pengson introduces me to the Chef start-up (not just a pop-up) that currently occupies a section of his Aleanza Multi-Arts Institute at 2257 Chino Roces, Makati. He deflects the spotlight from himself, explaining how the Chef concept is truly a community effort, embodying the “it takes a village” concept in full bloom.

From the chef to those working in the front of the house, Rob makes it a point to gather everyone for a group photo, emphasizing this team effort. It’s great to watch this unfold, with Rob shining the spotlight on fresh talent and showcasing how, collectively, the Institute is making this happen.

From 2009 to 2016, Chef Rob was the driving force behind the Goose Station in BGC. For those with short memories, Goose Station was a pioneer in degustation, hence the clever play on the name, and in offering tasting menus in Metro Manila.

Chef offers an Antebellum tasting menu, with three variants depending on the number of courses you opt for. The one I had the pleasure of enjoying with Matteo, my middle son, was truly special and one that we can both highly recommend.

The first course is a Cone, but it’s a cone that teases and satisfies. It comprises of foie gras, port jelly, nuts, micro green, fig compote, and foie liver mousse base. They all mesh to play on textures and flavors, offering a foretaste of a recurring theme.

The second course, a Crab and Caviar special, would be one of our top three courses. It features cauliflower pannacotta, generous caviar, and a daikon crab rose. It’s both subtle and intense; one I’d gladly come back for.

The Prosciutto Manchego Chou-quette is a play on the Spanish croquetas but with a prosciutto slice sitting on the manchego-filled choux.

We’re asked to leave the table and head to the kitchen’s pass for the Tuna Tartlette, with horseradish and crème fraiche. And here’s another big hit for us two. The tartlette is a crisp pastry boat that offers texture variety in the dish.

The Chestnut Mushroom Velouté is your refreshing soup dish that has a great gruyère tuile sitting on top of the cup of soup - earthy and nutty at the same instance.

The Salad Ratatouille is a great surprise. The pepper, which dominates the dish, looks like a severed tongue; which had my son laughing. But the flavors that come together are exquisite, and definitely one of our favorites.

The main course is a substantial slab of beef slices; Steak Diane with cabrales, bordelaise, potato lyonnaise, braised cabbage, and pear with chlorophyll sauce. It’s Chef ensuring one doesn’t partake in their tasting menu and say they left still hungry.

The first dessert is called Strawberry and Lemon Curd featuring berries, cream, and pastry crust. It’s wonderful, being light, not overly sweet, and smartly conceived.

The second dessert is a Persian Tiramisu, offering a medley of chocolate textures. It serves a fitting end to the dinner.

Head to the Aleanza website and social media platforms to learn more about this culinary experience. Whether at Chef or Rob’s Beso-Beso, there’s much to savor and enjoy.

Foie Gras ConeCrab and CaviarProsciutto ManchegoTuna TartletteChestnut Mushroom VeloutéSalad RatatouilleSteak DianeStrawberry and Lemon CurdPersian Tiramisu