From the beginning of this pandemic, people have turned to food to provide solace at a time when nothing else seems to be certain. With food, we know what to expect. We are comforted by flavours that remind us of safer times, and when we have consumed enough, we are predictably satiated and relieved.
Chefs—those notoriously volatile creatures—seem to be on the same wavelength. “I'm tired of making new food,” says Spanish chef Amado Garcia Fernandez. He speaks of modern gastronomy, and perhaps fusion cuisine, the kind that you will find in Michelin-starred restaurants in his home country where some of his famous compatriots popularized food refashioned into all kinds of liquids, gels, and foams. Chef Amado wants none of that, and in his new BGC restaurant, you can be sure that there is not a single foam in sight.
Such is the promise of Manduca Taberna, a newly-opened Spanish eatery run by two friends who want to introduce Filipinos to casual dining, Madrileño-style. Chef Amado and Ricardo Lopez met when working in a hotel in Madrid until Ricardo moved to Manila to work for a local distributor and restaurant. Amado soon followed and found work in a couple of Spanish concepts in the city, until he decided to cook food he knows well and loves.
Manduca is a Spanish colloquial term for food or chow, and it perfectly captures the vibe of this modern tavern. Open all day, breakfast fare is your typical silogs that cater to the surrounding offices. But, from brunch until closing, it is the Spanish regional comfort food that Chef Amado and Ricardo thoughtfully curated that they feel embody a Madrileño menu. “Like any big city, Madrid is a melting pot,” Ricardo explains. “Spanish food is not just all Catalan where Madrid is, and not just all Basque where San Sebastian is. There are so many other dishes that truly represent the cuisine of the many different regions of Spain.”