We expected a good show, and the stars of the evening did not disappoint.
Metronome’s chef and Tatler Dining Guide’s Chef of the Year Miko Calo and Sofitel Manila’s multi-awarded executive chef Bettina Arguelles roamed the dining room as most of the guests were on the final lap of the 11-course dinner. Like two seasoned generals who just recently survived an epic battle fighting to keep their businesses afloat during the lingering pandemic, this collaboration is definitely the friendly joust they both looked forward to. Their first four-hands dinner in Sofitel was so well-attended that they longed to have a redux of that successful evening, this time at Calo’s popular Legaspi Village shrine to modern French cuisine.
With the evening’s event almost over, and champagne in hand, a mellowed Calo chats comfortably about her first four-hands dinner in her home turf. “Since I have the advantage of working in my own kitchen, I decided to really raise the bar with my team,” she says. “It is always tough cooking in someone else’s kitchen—I felt that when I was in Sofitel and trying to work in an unfamiliar space. I am quite sure chef Bettina feels the same way.”
If ever there was a degree of unease on Arguelles’ end, there was no evidence of it. The evening’s dishes, all eleven of them that composed what could easily have been a tedious four-hour meal, were not only impeccably prepared but practically seamless. Arguelles explains why she and Calo were perfectly paired. “I have always wanted to do a collaboration with her because I knew her from when we were both still working in Singapore,” she explains. “If you look at our backgrounds, there are many parallelisms.” By this, she certainly pertains to the classical training they both received—she at Sunrice Global Chef Academy in Singapore, and Calo at École Grégoire-Ferrandi in Paris. They both honed their skills in the most punishing French kitchens—Arguelles under the discerning eye of Daniel Boulud at db Bistro Moderne in Marina Bay Sands and NYC; Calo is through and through a veteran of Joël Robuchon’s restaurants, from her internship in Paris until her stint as Junior Sous Chef at l’atelier de Joël Robuchon in Singapore.