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A famous chef is opening a restaurant in Cebu, and we couldn’t be more excited!

Cebu’s dining scene just keeps getting better and better! Zee Lifestyle gets an exclusive preview of Ñ, a brand new dining concept spearheaded by a celebrated Spanish chef who runs one of the 50 best restaurants in Asia.

VASK Tapas Room's Chef Luis "Chele" Gonzales

VASK Tapas Room’s Chef Luis “Chele” Gonzales

Chele Gonzalez is no stranger to the Zee Lifestyle crowd.

Last year, the talented Spaniard was the guest chef at the Bohol Break, the kick-off festivities for this publication’s 20th year anniversary. While the highlight of that event was a fashion show featuring the latest collections of Jun Escario and Mia Arcenas, the food was equally memorable, with people singing praises about the Wagyu ribs and the scallops with black ink risotto.

When we heard that Chef Chele was working with Crimson Resort & Spa Mactan to offer a unique dining experience in Cebu, we couldn’t resist hopping on a plane for an exclusive preview. The patience in dealing with a three-hour delayed flight and Manila traffic paid off when we finally stepped into the cool industrial-chic interiors of VASK Tapas Room in BGC.

Decked in his chef whites, Chef Chele was all smiles and waved off our profuse apologies for our tardiness. “The Spanish eat late!” he exclaims, bidding us to settle in our seats. Assuming correctly that we were starving, Chef Chele wastes no time in serving us our individual plated amuse bouche alongside a glass of champagne. He gestures a preferred eating order—Crispy Oysters with Spicy Paprika Mayonnaise and Cilantro first, followed by the Jamon and Parmesan Mousse Pinxto, and ending with the Croqueta de Txipiron, a black ink squid Spanish croqueta. Those three small bites alone signaled that we were definitely in for an extraordinary dinner.

VASK Tapas Room in BGC

VASK Tapas Room in BGC

It’s hard to imagine anything topping those appetizers, but we were quickly proven wrong with the arrival of the Wagyu Carpaccio with Parmesan Ice Cream and Pine Nuts, which was deemed an instant favorite among the Cebu guests. The thin slices of Wagyu beautifully offset the burst of flavor from the ice cream and the texture of the nuts. Next came a series of other appetizers, each of them impressive enough to make everyone look forward to Chef Chele’s new dining concept in Cebu.

Wagyu Carpaccio with Parmesan Ice Cream and Pine Nuts

Wagyu Carpaccio with Parmesan Ice Cream and Pine Nuts

“It’s going to be part of Crimson’s new expansion,” shares Crimson Resort & Spa’s PR & Marcom Manager Mia Mae Sy over servings of Vieras Gratinadas and Pulpo a la Gallega, the latter of which being a grilled and smoked octopus with a potato emulsion and crispy paprika that everyone will say was their favorite dish at the end of the evening. For the past few years, the resort has been undergoing extensive renovations that sees the addition of a new swimming pool and a new Crimzone (the current kid activity center will be converted into a café). Chef Chele’s new restaurant, to be called Ñ, will replace Tempo. 

With a culinary degree from Arxanda, Bilbao and an extensive career working in some of the world’s most respected restaurants, it’s easy to see how Chef Chele quickly propelled VASK Tapas Room into a cool 39th ranking among Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants of 2016. It takes serious skill to create authentic Spanish cuisine with a modern twist, and yet he does so quite impressively that Cebu should definitely be excited he’s choosing the Queen City as his next home. 

Hayde Quiñanola of Cebu Daily News, Patty Taboada of Zee Lifestyle and Sun.Star Cebu's Luis III Quibranza (rightmost) with Crimson Hotel Filinvest City's Corporate PR and MarCom Manager Mawi de Ocampo, VASK Tapas Bar's Patricia Kirkpatrick, and Crimson Mactan's PR and MarCom Manager Mia Mae Sy

Hayde Quiñanola of Cebu Daily News, Patty Taboada of Zee Lifestyle and Sun.Star Cebu’s Luis III Quibranza (rightmost) with Chroma’s Corporate PR and MarCom Manager Mawi de Ocampo, VASK Tapas Bar’s Patricia Kirkpatrick, and Crimson Resort & Spa Mactan’s PR and MarCom Manager Mia Mae Sy

Paired with a glass of chilled white wine, the ‘Lechon’ Tacos were served. Tender Carnitas were mixed with Mango Salsa Jalapeño Frijoles Mousse and Sour Cream, and while it was good as it is, we’re interested to see his take on it with Cebu lechon—a suggestion Chef Chele took with enthusiasm. The 62’C Organic Egg, Porcini Mash, Foie Gras, Truffle and Crispy Jamon Iberico was also a hit among the guests. Breaking the poached egg and having the yolk mixed with the red wine sauce is a unique sensory experience, with its interesting flavors and textures.

“You aren’t even at the main courses yet!” Chef Chele laughs amid our proclamations that we were getting full. This was met with almost-comical flabbergasted stares, prompting the man of the hour to reassure us that we only had a few more dishes to go, and most of them were for sharing. Red wine was poured to go with our Rabo al Vino Tinto, which was a slow-cooked oxtail with red wine and potatoes. We also had the Pescado con Refrito de Ajos, grilled catch-of-the-day with garlic, sherry vinegar and potato; and the Foie and Porcini Risotto. Despite our initial claims, we couldn’t help but go back for seconds anyway—the oxtail was amazingly tender, and the risotto heavenly. 

Rabo al Vino Tinto: Slow-cooked oxtail with red wine and potatoes

Rabo al Vino Tinto: Slow-cooked oxtail with red wine and potatoes

Considering how much we’ve had to eat, it’s amazing that we could even still make room for dessert. As it is, we couldn’t resist a helping of Torrija, brioche dipped in milk with Anise ice cream. You’d think that at this point we’d be overwhelmed with all the flavors, but the delicate sweetness of that dessert was just what we needed to end the night. 

Vieras Gratinadas: Baked scallops with Bechamel sauce and cheese

Vieras Gratinadas: Baked scallops with Bechamel sauce and cheese

The dining scene in Cebu has seen so much development in the recent years. Existing establishments have reinvented themselves, while new concepts have been introduced—all to adapt to a more sophisticated palate. Ñ is set to be a dazzling addition to the scene, and with everything we’ve tasted so far (all dishes mentioned above will be offered in Cebu), all we can say is it’s going to be a game changer.

Ñ will open at Crimson Resort & Spa Mactan later this year.

Seascapes Resort Town, Mactan Island
website | Facebook

5F Clipp Center, 11th Avenue,
Bonifacio Global City, Taguig, Manila
website | Facebook

Contributed photos.


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Cebuano Pride: The National Museum of Cebu

Pride of Cebu

By Eva Gullas 
photos courtesy of DOT
“With the National Museum of Cebu, the cradle of Christianity in the country, we open the doors to a temple in history and culture, inviting tourists and locals to witness our archaeological and natural treasures. The NMP-Cebu is not just a museum but a bridge to our past and a window into our future,” declares Christina Frasco, our Secretary of Tourism, at the ceremonial opening last July 28.
Located at the heart of the city’s historic port area, the former colonial Customs House, built in 1910, was transformed into an elegant edifice worthy of the city’s place in history. It was in Cebu where the Spanish conquistadors first landed in 1521 and where Magellan met his end at the hands of the local chieftain Lapu-Lapu. Starting August 1, the National Museum of Cebu will open its doors daily from 9 am to 5 pm except Monday.

Cebu City Tourism’s Neil Odjigue, Cembeth Hortillano and CCTC Chairperson Joy Pesquera

Worth checking is the first floor, where a few art pieces from national artists like Cebu’s own Martino Abellana, Fernando Amorsolo, and Jose Joya take pride of place. On the right wing are finds from archeological digs found all over the islands. Called Ang Karaang Sugbo or Old Cebu, they include a gold death mask and ancient vases from China. There’s also Kinaiyahan: Cebu’s Natural Wonders, which features an impressive wall containing the different layers underneath our soil. There is also a display case that interactively showcases the various elements around the area, like gold, copper, and gypsum. Another wing is Paglawig: Cultural Movember Across the Seas, showcasing the islands’ maritime history and sea bounty, including rare shells.

Museum Director Jeremy Barns, Maryanne Arculli, Andronik Aboitiz and wife Doreen, Amanda Luym

Some of the abstract art from the New York collection

It is on the second floor, though, where the museum shines. Up the grand staircase, guests are greeted by Elmer Borlongan’s massive Battle of Mactan, facing a facsimile of the Sta Maria galleon, Magellan’s flagship. Then on to a limited-time exhibit on loan from the Philippine Center New York Core Collection of 1974, a treasure trove of almost 90 paintings collected by former First Lady Imelda Marcos, including Ang Kioks, Sanso, Manuel Rodrigues, and many more representing both avant-garde and classic Filipino masters. The New York collection is only available until March 2024 and is not to be missed.

Writer Eva Gullas beside Elmer Borlongan’s Battle of Mactan

The National Museum Cebu has been years in the making, and this cultural milestone has finally been made possible under the new administration of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., who famously said during the inauguration, “I am a museum fan, and I can stay in art museums for hours and hours.” He added, ” museums are considered valuable natural assets to a nation as they build a sense of community, document history, inspire creativity, promote tourism, and unite people through a shared heritage.” Kudos to the National Museum Board of Trustees, chaired by Andoni Aboitiz and Museum Director Jeremy Barnes, for this cultural gift to Cebu!
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The Uncommon Traditions that Mexicans and Filipinos share when celebrating the Day of the Dead.

Dia de los Muertos

By Allain Dumon Fonte

The 2nd of November is All Soul’s Day, a holiday that is very important to many Filipinos to remember our loved ones who passed on. This is also widely celebrated in Mexico as “Dia De los Muertos” or in English, “The Day of the Dead”. And Mexicans celebrate the 2nd of November grander than they celebrate Christmas. Well, you can witness it from the Disney movie, “Coco”.

As All Soul’s Day or Dia de los Muertos is about to end, here are some interesting traditions and superstitions that Filipinos and Mexicans share:


Dia de los Muertos or All Soul’s Day is not practiced on October 31st or on the Hallow’s Eve as many other western cultures practice; but we celebrate it on the 2nd of November. We celebrate November 1st as All Saint’s Day or the Day of the Holy, while in Mexico they call it Dia de los Innocentes or Dia de los Angelitos to commemorate the children who died too early in life.


Both in Mexico and in the Philippines, we visit the grave of our loved ones and we clean it well. This is a ritual to honour their resting places and to let them know that they are never forgotten.


In Mexico, they believe that the scent of flowers attract spirits. So the flower offerings are invitation to their dead loved ones to visit the living families. While in the Philippines, we believe that flowers offered to the dead exalt the souls and somehow fill in the sadness that we feel when missing our dead loved ones.

Most of the time, Filipinos choose all-white flowers to offer because white is the absence of colour, which means the absence of Joy and happiness. White also symbolises purity of soul which we hope our dead loved ones will attain as they journey to heaven. While in Mexico, they have the yellow Mexican marigolds as the official flowers of the dead that will guide them in their journey to the afterlife.


Both cultures believe that monarch butterflies are dead loved ones who visit us and show their appreciation that we have not forgotten them. A presence of monarch butterflies also means that our dead loved ones are always there guiding us and looking after us.


Spending a night at the graveyard and picnicking with the rest of the family may sound very creepy to many; but to both Filipino and Mexican cultures, picnicking and spending a night at the cemetery is a must to show our love to our dearly departed. It is the only time in the year that families gather and tell stories of the dead loved ones and how colourful or how great their lives were.


In Mexico, they have what they call “ofrendas” or an altar where the pictures of their dead loved ones are displayed and offered with flowers, candles, and their favourite food. Very similar to the Filipino culture of cooking the favourite food of our dead loved ones and everyone in the family enjoys the food for dinner.

My family tradition involves me driving all the way to Colon street and buy that famous Snow Sheen’s “pancit canton”. This is my granddad’s favourite snack. Sadly, the old Visayan Restaurant is no longer there. My late uncle and my late grandpa love their sweet ad and sour fish. We also set up an “ofrenda” on their graveyard and eat their favourite food while picnicking in the cemetery. We do not spend a night in the cemetery; but while we are picnicking there, we usually play the songs of Pilita Corrales and Susan Fuentes that my late grandpa used to listen every afternoon while enjoying his coffee, pan de sal, and pancit canton.

What about your family traditions? Share your thoughts by commenting to this article.

MODEL: Michael Joseph Mortola Enriquez & Alexis Wingfield
PHOTOGRAPHER: Gianne Paolo Anciano
STYLING: GPA Lifestyle + Clothing

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Catch Ted Lasso the Emmy Award Winning Comedy Series on Apple TV+

Catch Ted Lasso the Emmy Award Winning Comedy Series on Apple TV+


Rating: *****/ *****

The multi award–winning comedy series airing on Apple TV+ is one of my favorite shows.  Ted Lasso starring Jason Sudeikis is about a fun good-natured American football coached hired by a British soccer club (AFC Richmond in London) to become their new coach.  In spite of the fact that Ted has no experience or knowledge about British football/soccer, his positive demeanor and charm helps him overcome the animosity of the team’s players, staff and fans.  Eventually Ted wins over the team and the locals as they fight for position in the English Premier League.

The show won the 2021 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Comedy Series and 7 Emmy Awards in its 2 seasons and Season 3 is just around the corner.  You can catch Seasons 1 & 2 of Ted Lasso on Apple TV+

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