Chef Sau Del Rosario On Opening Cafe Fleur Manila Amid The Pandemic
Opening a restaurant is tough work—but opening one amidst a pandemic? Well, Chef Sau del Rosario has proven that it is possible indeed.
Having first opened in Pampanga, Cafe Fleur is a charming restaurant known for its tongue-in-cheek names and delightful takes on local recipes. "Buco Pie becomes Vuco Fye because Kapampangans pronounce the letters/words differently like B becomes V, P become F!" Chef Sau playfully observes.
Sau, who's the man behind the said eatery, reveals that much of the inspiration for Cafe Fleur—from the interiors to the menu—come from his childhood. A Kapampangan himself, Chef Sau understands local flavour more than most; and he augments such with a dash of nostalgia and a touch of sentimentality. "Cafe Fleur Manila's menu is a collection of all my signature dishes (mostly dishes from my past restaurants), travels, and my mom’s recipes," he reveals. The menu is international in that sense, featuring touches of Italy, France, the Mediterranean and Indonesia to name a few - all of which tend to have Filipino nuances.
Even the interiors—which some have described as "Balinese" aren't necessarily of Indonesian origin. Rather, they're a throwback to Chef Sau's own childhood home. "The interiors are inspired by our house in Pampanga. I [wanted] to make use of local materials; our furniture were done in Pampanga, plates by Lanelle Abueva Fernando and designs by Bamnusa. It’s one way of helping other local businesses especially [during] these times of difficulties."
Due to the pandemic, the original Cafe Fleur in Angeles City, unfortunately, had to shut down. But fortunately, its resurrection has brought it closer to the hearts—and stomachs—of avid eaters in Makati. "People are so supportive and people are itching to eat out," Chef Sau comments gratefully.
Tucked behind the labyrinth of alleys along Poblacion, Makati, Cafe Fleur's new location is a breath of fresh air from the otherwise chaotic personality of one of NCR's most prominent nightlife districts. It is well-lit, with warm lights to complement wooden furniture, and also fun without being gaudy.
So why—after the closure of Cafe Fleur Pampanga—did the restaurateur think to open a new branch in Manila?
Surprisingly, the idea came to him at the height of the pandemic last 2020. "I think differently," Chef Sau explains. "I was bored at home especially right after a long quarantine period and I thought this is the best time to pivot, to take risk. So during the height of pandemic, I thought of what to put in the menu. I wanted to honour my mom by using her recipes."
Now, Chef Sau helms a burgeoning new Poblacion restaurant, right by his home! "I've always wanted to open a place where people can eat. The rent [in Poblacion] is reasonable. It worked! Well so far, yes".