by Allain Dumon Fonte
The reason why I love to travel is not only because I get to see new places, or experience new adventures; but more so to witness cultures around the world. And, there is no better way to experience cultures than trying the food that are unique in every destination. From the Thịt Nướng (grilled pork) that melts in your mouth in Quán Bún Thịt Nướng 163 restaurant in Nha Trang to the world-famous Kjötsupa (traditional lamb meat soup) served in Svangi Mangi restaurant in Reykjavík, nothing can beat the food in Cebu.
Cebu has always been a destination for good food and is fast becoming a destination for food tourism. This is because there is no such thing as uniquely Cebuano cuisine. Dining in Cebu feels like globetrotting. Cebu prides itself with the lechon (roasted suckling pig) and has its origin from Spain; so does arroz caldo, paella, and many more. While our lumpia (spring rolls) were taught to us by our Chinese ancestors. Even the famous sinangag (fried rice) is inspired from the Indo-Malay nasi goreng (Fried rice with egg). The only question left is where can we find all of these sumptuous global food in one place.
One place that may have it all, and has always pleased the Cebuanos’ palate is Radisson Blu’s Feria. The dishes are cooked with traditional ingredients but with innovated recipes to enhance your lunch or dinner experience. Plus, Feria welcomes her new executive chef, Chef Nick Van Riemsdijk. This culinary master has been an executive chef for more than 30 years, and has impressed food critiques from around the world. Chef Riemsdijk started in London and has been serving remarkable dishes from Marrakesh to Rio, and even outdone the cooking masters in Bangkok, where he worked before coming to Cebu. His exposure to international cuisines will surely put Radisson Blu as the new capital for dining experience in the Queen City of the South.
I was treated for a luncheon meeting with Chef Riemsdijk and I believe he has outdone himself this time, as the food have exceeded expectations. I personally love seafood; however, I try to avoid the mahi-mahi fish. When it is not cooked properly, or when one over does the marinating of the mahi-mahi, it has a very strong aroma. However, the seared mahi-mahi fish with lemon butter sauce at Feria is a heaven in my mouth. The aroma was more of the lemon than the fish, and the texture is just perfect. Basing from the taste, you can tell that the magic was in the spice rub. I wanted to ask Chef Riemsdijk what spices did he use, but obviously, it is a trade secret. The second cuisine I tasted is the grilled pork. I enjoy grilled pork in Cebu, but Vietnam’s Thịt Nướng is my favourite. Although, Feria’s grilled pork is not as perfect as the Thịt Nướng in Quán Bún Thịt Nướng 163 restaurant in Nha Trang, it is the closest that has achieved the taste and the tenderness of the meat. I became suddenly excited after tasting the roasted turkey. Finding a delicious roasted turkey anywhere in Asia is most difficult because of the type of food being fed to the turkeys in the region. The main key to a delicious turkey meat is the proper way of raising it. So far, no restaurant in Asia has competed to how juicy and how savory turkey meats taste in the United States. The American turkey meat has always been the best; so, I wonder how did Chef Riemsdijk achieved such perfection with his roasted turkey. He guiltily admits that finding the right ingredients to make the best cuisines is very challenging in Cebu; but, because Feria is very committed to only serve the best, they actually imported the turkey meat from America. My eyes widened in excitement, and my first question was, “will Radisson Blu make it available all-year-round?” Sadly, it will not be available all-year-round, but it will surely be available during special occasions and for special orders. There you go, I know now what to save for in the next holidays, a roasted whole turkey from Radisson Blu’s Feria.
When I asked Chef Riemsdijk what will be new in Feria, he said that he will be striving for a much healthier buffet options. With the onset of plant-based movement in the world, Feria knows when to put vegan options and plant-based food on the table doing a rotation of 25 plant-based dishes having no animal product; thus, giving people more selections towards ethical and healthier dining experience. As a meat lover, I have doubts of this movement, until Chef Riemsdijk asked if I am enjoying my pizza; and, I readily responded yes and went for a second slice. Little did I know that it was a plant-based pizza with zero meat. I even surprised myself for enjoying a zero-meat pizza.
The holiday menu is filled with dishes designed to excite the palate. From black gnocchi with seafood truffle-tomato sauce and red wine risotto for the pasta to salmon empanada or the green asparagus polenta with sous vide eggplant, everything is carefully done and artistically made to gratify your taste buds. Moreover, the array of sweet treats to choose from their menu, from the Praline Yule log that obviously destroyed my month’s effort of trying to lose weight to the Chocolate Meringue Mont Blanc Cake that is a signature only of Feria; all of these will make you feel the difference this holiday season. Chef Riemsdijkv and his kitchen team are surely preparing feast fit for a royal wedding.
My advice is that if you want to enjoy a new world of gastronomic experience with musical entertainment and a magnificent fireworks display, do it at the Radisson Blu. You will not only feel the new year kicking, you will surely dine like a king, or queen, because there are no blue holidays at the BLU.
A Quick Chat with Radisson Blu Cebu’s Kitchen Team at Feria
by MINERVA BC NEWMAN
Cebu is now abuzz with so many activities and events from last month’s Cebu Business Month (CBM) and the Cebu Food and Wine Festival (CFWF) where the food and culinary industry and the hospitality sector are in focus as two of the key developments and growths in the tourism economy.
Radisson Blu Cebu, located at Serging Osmeña Blvd., corner Pope John Paul II Ave. in Cebu City is an imposing hotel building across SM City Mabolo where comfort, unparalleled service and close attention to detail are described as the Radisson Blu Cebu experience.
What catches this writer’s attention is the hotel’s Feria Restaurant, the Lobby Bar and the Pool Bar. Many of my friends here and abroad have shared with me their food and wine dining experience while at Radisson Blu Cebu. I decided to visit and try the buffet spread at Feria and ended up chatting with the chefs, the kitchen team behind Feria’s sumptuous menus and dishes every day.
This writer had a chance to chat with Radisson Blu Cebu’s kitchen team headed by Chef Nicholas van Riemsdijk, Radisson Blu Cebu’s Executive Chef. While last month’s CFWF festival highlighted the various culinary experiences of more than 20 national chefs, Chef Nick wanted to emphasize Radisson Blu Cebu’s kitchen team that consists of 8-10 Indian, Japanese, Filipino and Mediterranean chefs that collaborated and assembled Feria Restaurant’s spread and menus at the Lobby and Pool Bars.
“Radisson Blu Cebu’s Feria is a popular buffet place in Cebu City and I am very proud of my team whipping up authentic food with all our hearts. I want my Team to be in the spotlight for what they’re doing in the kitchen. You see a beautiful buffet arrangement everyday at Feria and that is because of the hard work of my chefs,” Chef Nick told this writer.
During the Cebu Food and Wine Festival, Feria concentrated on local Filipino buffet cuisine because last year, the restaurant had 280 covers in full buffet. “This year, we intended to put out brand new local Cebuano and Pinoy dishes in our buffet to support the CFWF and we wanted to surpass last year’s covers,” Chef Nick added.
Everyday is a different buffet here at Feria, Chef Nick said that the team creates menus based on the best available products and as much as local products; sourced out from local suppliers and farms to support local as much as possible, as responsible business ethics.
“We, my team puts out authentic food each time. The by-word at the kitchen and among the chefs is consistency in tastes of the various menus we put out, because consistency means quality and respect of food and cuisine in the world. As chefs, we love food and that is true to our profession,” Chef Nick smiled.
According to Chef Nick, the chefs sit as a team to come up with the daily themed menus; changing recipe’s new things for Cebu, what’s here, what’s not and what’s to improve. Whatever he brings to his team, they learn and they are continuously working, discussing all the time and it’s always a working process, Chef Nick said.
Radisson Blu Cebu’s Feria buffet
Every day is a different buffet at Feria. Feria’s daily themed highlights to accompany its signature international staples of Filipino, Chinese, Indian, Japanese, and Mediterranean fare:
- Mondays are American Grill and BBQ buffet: A homage to the beloved Texas BBQ, plus American classics
- Tuesdays are Asian menus focusing on well-loved recipes from the East and Southeast Asian neighbors including Malaysian, Indonesian, Singaporean, and Korean dishes highlighting refreshingly spicy flavors
- Wednesdays are European dishes with more on pastas, creamy soups, heavy meat dishes
- Thursdays are Latin American, highlighting recipes from Mexico to Brazil with spicy flavors
- Fridays are Seafood galore, finding ways to incorporate the fruits of the sea in pizzas, pasta, fried and grilled dishes
- Saturdays are for Global street food, elevated versions of easy to eat comfort foods, but not just Filipino street food but also from around the world like noodles from hawker stalls of Singapore and Malaysia; fresh and filling Vietnamese and Thai recipes as well
- Sundays are Filipino food. There’s nothing like the familiar taste of home
Feria lunch is Php1,488 and dinner is Php1,688 while wine buffet also available at Php1,288 sold separately–just unlimited wine, red or white, the selection available in the buffet area and the servers will assist and can pour when requested.
Let’s meet Radisson Blu’s Chefs
“My team is flexible to the clients, they speak to the guests and talk to them for some with special requests in their dishes, like guests who are vegans or pescatarians. My team of chefs mostly always accommodates special requests,” Chef Nick said
Chef Nicholas van Riemsdijk started working as a chef since he was 16 years and he has lived and worked in many parts of the world, making his international knowledge on food and cuisine incredibly wide and expansive in nature. He brings these experiences in the Feria kitchen as the executive chef of Radisson Blu Cebu.
Chef Leo Montemayor is the Chef de Cuisine, from Canlaon City in Negros Oriental. Chef Leo has been with Radisson Blu Cebu for 10 years now and he is very proud and happy to work at the kitchen with Chef Nick and the other chefs. He said the team can do any kinds of dishes in collaboration with other dishes especially that Feria has a variety of menus.
Chef Arnel Quilestino is the Sous Chef, from Badian, Cebu. Chef Amel has more than 30 years of experience in the kitchen as part of the staff with all the other chefs at Radisson that can do all kinds of signature dishes.
Chef Jyoti Singh is the Indian Chef at Radisson who’s instrumental in winning the SunStar’s Best of Cebu 2022 Best Indian Food for Radisson Blu Cebu. Chef Jyoti is a quite guy with a cool demeanor. He is responsible for all the Indian menus and dishes at the Feria Restaurant in collaboration with the other chefs for unique tastes.
According to these chefs, they help each other and always work as team. Feria has a variety of menus every day and the team always adhere to the consistency of tastes of whatever they put on the buffet table, with the approval from the executive chef.
“There is a recipe card and description of every dish that we do because we work for excellence, quality and consistency of food tastes at Radisson Blu Cebu, and we are all very proud of our profession and our work. We feed people from the best of our hearts and soul. We respect food and mindful of food wastage,” they said.
‘Find Your Shangri-La’ Whimsical Menu at the Shangri-La, Mactan Cebu
A dreamy, indulgent gastronomic heaven awaits in Mactan, Cebu. For the discerning gourmand, our Master Chefs have curated a series of new Whimsical Menus, featuring exquisite culinary creations that shines the spotlight on the freshest locally sourced and sustainable staple ingredients.
Guests are invited to feast their senses on a delightful medley of enticing, exotic flavours, with delectable delights such as Bohol-farmed Prawns & Cebuano Mangoes with Kataifi Noodles, Double-boiled Abalone, Dried Scallop in Coconut Shell, Red Lapu-Lapu Grouper Fillet with daubs of Gold Broth and Smoky A5 Wagyu Cube Roll in Merlot Black Pepper Sauce.
Exclusively available only at Tea of Spring, Shangri-La Mactan, Cebu’s contemporary Chinese restaurant until 13 August 2023.
For bookings and reservations, contact (032)2310288 or email email@example.com.
Mix and Match Your Orders as GrabKitchen Officially Launches in Cebu!
Grab Philippines officially launches GrabKitchen in Cebu – the first cloud kitchen of the leading super app outside of Luzon. GrabKitchen Cebu will serve as a central commissary of an inaugural slate of six restaurants: Happilee Korean Kitchen, CoCo, Big Al’s Cookie Jar, and Merry Moo; and homegrown Cebuano restaurants Chef Joshua’s Kitchen and Cooee Cafe. In celebration of the launch, consumers can use promo code HELLOGKCEBU for every order from GrabKitchen Cebu merchants until March 31 to avail of a discount!
As a central commissary of multiple restaurants, GrabKitchen Cebu allows consumers to better mix and match various food items from its merchants. Through this, Cebuanos can enjoy a wider food selection with just one delivery fee. Cebuanos can now also take delight in the offerings of food brands that are entering the Cebu market through GrabKitchen – such as Happilee Korean Kitchen, Big Al’s Cookie Jar, and Merry Moo. With the launch of GrabKitchen Cebu, these restaurants will be more accessible across the province, even extending over to Mandaue City.
“We are truly excited to empower and enable more MSMEs to scale their businesses as we launch our first GrabKitchen in the Queen City of the South. GrabKitchen is designed to be a vehicle for smaller local businesses to scale and expand their presence across regions without having to break the bank for facilities and equipment. With our cloud kitchen, we are optimistic that Cebu culinary offerings will be enjoyed by more Filipinos both in the province and in other areas across the Philippines”, Grab Philippines Director for Deliveries Greg Camacho shares.
GrabKitchen offers much-needed kitchen facilities to food and beverage MSMEs, helping them scale their business and expand their presence via GrabFood. This also gives MSMEs the opportunity to expand their channels for deliveries, thus making them more resilient amid the ever-changing dining behavior of consumers.
GrabKitchen Cebu is set to grow its roster of restaurants and food brands in the next few months to include more homegrown brands and introduce more food concepts from other regions.
GrabKitchen Cebu’s Happilee, CoCo, Big Al’s Cookie Jar, Merry Moo, Chef Joshua’s Kitchen and Cooee Cafe are now open for both delivery and Self Pick-Up via GrabFood! Experience the convenience of the mix-and-match feature when you download the Grab app on Google Play Store or the Apple App Store. Be sure to follow Grab on Facebook and Instagram to keep posted on updates.
Grab is Southeast Asia’s leading superapp based on GMV in 2021 in each of food deliveries, mobility and the e-wallets segment of financial services, according to Euromonitor. Grab operates across the deliveries, mobility and digital financial services sectors in 480 cities in eight countries in the Southeast Asia region – Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.