Cover Pork head, garlic aioli, lime kosho (Lolla)

The revered chefs from Lolla in Singapore and Gallery by Chele in the Philippines share how they created their exclusive menu which taps into their heritage and culinary influences

Off Menu Luxe—Tatler Dining Singapore’s inaugural food event which pairs two chefs together to create dishes they have never done before—is taking place at The Clifford Pier on October 18 and 19. In partnership with UOB Private Bank, we are working with four of the best chefs from Singapore and the Philippines to craft a seven-course menu, inspired by the diverse flavours that make up our vibrant culinary scene.

These include modern European and Filipino cuisines, which our guest chefs Johanne Siy (Lolla) and Chele Gonzalez (Gallery by Chele) know too well. After all, Siy is a Filipina native who has cooked in notable kitchens in the world, while Chele is a Spanish chef who has made the Philippines his second home.

It’s no surprise that for their seven-course menu, which will be served on October 19, they chose to highlight their heritage on a plate, elevated with modern cooking techniques and the season’s best bounty.

Before they cook for UOB Private Bank’s 200 esteemed guests, we chat with the chefs about the inspiration behind their exclusive menu and what they’re most excited about in cooking at our inaugural food event.

Read more: Off Menu Luxe to Debut in Singapore Next Month—Here’s What to Expec

What are you most excited about with Off Menu Luxe Singapore?

Johanne Siy (JS): I’m excited to bring Philippine cuisine and ingredients to a wider audience in Singapore. No matter what type of cuisine we specialise in as chefs, our heritage is of utmost importance because it grounds and defines us. I’m happy to be able to share a little bit more about that aspect of my personality through Off Menu Luxe.

Chele Gonzalez (CG): I feel honoured and humbled to be cooking at Off Menu Luxe as an international guest chef. I am particularly excited because we have a good connection with the F&B industry in Singapore, we have so many friends who are chefs. For me, it’s going to be fun and interesting because the Tatler Dining event feels like a bigger version of the restaurant collaborations we often do. Meeting with other chefs is also a good opportunity to explore and discover new adventures in the kitchen.

What was the inspiration behind your seven-course menu?

JS: I was definitely inspired by the dishes I loved from my childhood in the Philippines—reinterpreted through my culinary style and upbringing in kitchens in different parts of the world. I wanted to highlight key ingredients like ‘aligue’ or river crab fat, white cheese and coconut milk, as well as iconic Philippine dishes.

CG: We’re combining fine dining with Filipino cuisine, given her perspective as a Filipina chef, Carlos Villaflor (Chele’s sous chef) and my background in merging tradition and reinvention in our creations. The menu has a lot of ideas, and we are very excited to cook dishes we have imagined before but haven’t executed because of difficulty in accessing imported produce. Now that we’re doing Off Menu Luxe, it’s going to be unique.

In case you missed it: A Taste of Home: Lolla Head Chef Johanne Siy Shares Her Favourite Filipino Dishes

How was the experience collaborating with each other?

JS: Chef Chele and I have known each other for years. We did a collaboration dinner with him when I was with Restaurant André. Since then, I have dined at his restaurant a number of times and even spent time hanging out in his kitchen. We have bonded over our mutual love for the Philippines and our desire to promote and share Philippine gastronomy to a wider audience. Given this background, it was very easy for us to work together. We definitely looked out for and helped each other out as much as we can.

CG: I was excited to work with chef Johanne. I have been working with her for several times now. I already have a working relationship with her, and we’re both excited to cook together. She understands high level of cooking and cuisine because of her experience in the industry in Singapore.

Please tell us about your collaboration dish.

JS: We decided to open strong by presenting our collaboration dish first. We are doing a dish called ‘kinilaw’, a beautiful dish that opens up the palate and highlights the bounty from the seas surrounding the Philippine archipelago. The word ‘kinilaw’ comes from a native dialect, which means ‘eaten raw’. It is one of the dishes that has always been ours and not attributed to the influence of any other culture.

CG: We shared with chef Johanne how we do our own version in the restaurant, and we will integrate all the ideas and traditions that we have. Just a sneak peek, we will do this in such a way that we will use smoked coconut milk (this tradition is very unique to the region) and create a Tiger’s Milk with it, and chef Johanne will choose the fish and do a little bit of R&D with the recipe to add her personality in the dish.

Don’t miss: Adobo Recipe: How to Cook This Popular Filipino Dish at Home

How did you decide on ‘kinilaw’?

JS: We initially both wanted to do a ‘kinilaw’ dish and that’s how we started. We each had our own recipes, and we basically merged our approaches. We did several iterations to refine it until we were both satisfied with the dish. 

How does the seven-course menu represent both your cuisines and culinary philosophies?

JS: We are similar in that our culinary backgrounds are both rooted in the European tradition, but our connection to the Philippines and Asia is what defines our style—for me via my heritage, and for him with the Philippines being his adoptive country.

CG: Our philosophy is really about respecting our relationship with the natural world. We want to highlight our roots and home (the Philippines as my new home), and we want to elevate the flavours of the region and its communities.

Here’s a peek at what went down on the second night of Off Menu Luxe, with guest chefs Johanne Siy and Chele Gonzalez:

Above What went down on the second night of Off Menu Luxe Singapore
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