Dining with Mövenpick Hotel Mactan Island Cebu’s New Executive Chef

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Despite the looming presence of the typhoon last week, we found ourselves making our way to the other island to sample the creations of Mövenpick Hotel Mactan Island Cebu’s new Executive Chef, Jean Louis Leon.

Dinner was hosted at the indoor restaurant of the Ibiza Beach Club, where cool blue and purple lights bathed the guests as they enjoyed glasses of frosé—frozen rosé, Ibiza’s newest drink—and good conversation. When everyone was settled, Chef Jean Louis graciously made his way to each person, exchanging pleasantries. 

Born and raised in France, he’s built his career through assignments in various hotels and resorts in Europe and Asia. Mövenpick Hotel Mactan Island Cebu is his first assignment with Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts, an international hotel brand of Swiss heritage known for its 70 years of culinary excellence.

“There’s so much interest in the culinary scene now, and I couln’t be any more proud to be part of a company that understands and takes food and beverage to heart,” shared Chef Jean Louis of his appointment. “Aside from the beautiful beach and waters Cebu is known for, I love that this region has so much to offer in terms of locally grown produce and talent. I am delighted to join the team, and I look forward to bringing more exciting delights to the table through new flavours and textures.”

The first dish was the seafood plate which, as their marketing team commented, was a new creation that no one had tried until that night. It was a well-curated plate of squid tossed with tapenade, prawns with avocado oil and citrus dressing, beet-cured salmon in mustard dill sauce, and a squid ink sponge that balanced everything out. 

The next course was Bicol Express, a dish that was the least of my expectations. This was Chef Jean Louis’ twist on the Filipino classic; served in a coconut husk on a bed of salt, it was a delightful surprise from a French chef. This writer personally prefers her Bicol Express a bit spicier, although Chef Jean Louis did it justice, especially with how tender the pork was—and that soft-boiled egg added so much depth to the dish.

Next was the Churrasco-style Angus Rib Eye. Served in bernaise sauce, the angus rib eye was sinfully mouthwatering. The grilled polenta on the side mopped up the cream-based sauce, and the beef jus enhanced with truffle oil added a savoury touch. By this time, I had noticed that all the dishes had cream in some form, which I pointed out to those I shared a table with.

“It’s because he’s French,” said one with a chuckle. With that realization, I had to agree. 

We capped off the night with Yuzu Bavarois, a dessert that consists of milk thickened with eggs and gelatin, into which whipped cream is folded. The yuzu, which is a Japanese citrus, cut through the dessert’s creaminess with its aroma and flavour. 

By the time the last person cleaned up his plate, a light drizzle had begun and the winds had picked up. Still, that did not deter us from hanging back and talking over our self-made cocktails, courtesy of Ibiza’s ‘Cocktail in a Box’ offering. 

Chef Jean Louis had emerged out of the kitchen then, making his rounds at the tables and apologizing that he had to leave early.

“I’ve got two monkeys to play with, and a wife to kiss,” he laughed boisterously as he made his way out of the restaurant, waving a hand in parting.

See gallery for the photos.



Gia Mayola
Gia Mayola

Gia Mayola is Zee's Managing Editor. She's usually either cooking or eating in her spare time, or rolling on the mats as a white belt in jiujitsu. Follow her insatiable wanderlust and love for food and fashion on Instagram: @eyasthetics

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