Luncheon with the Laudicos
Celebrity chefs Jacqueline and Rolando Laudico serve three-course meals at the Philippine Embassy in the Netherlands Text and images by Krisha Valle, Netherlands In the month of June, renowned celebrity chefs, Jacqueline and Rolando Laudico, were invited to be the guest-of-honor in a number of events held throughout Europe. The Netherlands was their final stop and as the saying goes, they saved the best for last. A luncheon was held at the Philippine Embassy in the Netherlands, but this was unlike any other event that the embassy had hosted in the past. Numerous guests such as, ambassadors, chefs, and food connoisseurs, were invited not only to taste the Laudicos’ mouthwatering dishes, but to also witness their cooking expertise during a live cooking demonstration—chef Rolando demonstrated the preparation of the main course, while chef Jacqueline demonstrated the dessert course. Photos (left to right, top to bottom): Chef Jacqueline and Rolando Laudico during the cooking demonstration; Chef Jacqueline Laudico preparing the dessert course during the cooking demonstration; Image of the audience and the Laudicos during the cooking demonstration; Chef Rolando Laudico detailing the dessert course during the cooking demonstration; Close up of chef Rolando Laudico plating the main course during the cooking demonstration. The Laudicos demonstrated their cooking skills with ease showing the guests what 23 years of experience looks like. However, it wasn’t just the sounds and smells wafting from their pans that captivated the audience, it was also their charismatic personalities. They spoke highly of the Filipino kitchen and made sure to simultaneously educate and entertain everyone present. Watching them cook alongside each other is witnessing them in their element. After the cooking demonstration, the guests eagerly took their seats and waited for the dishes of the 3-course meal to be served. Each dish showcased different Filipino delicacies that had been elevated with a Laudico twist. The starter course consisted of two dishes: a classic sinigang with Sea Bass elevated using miso, and a less traditional ensaladang talong as it was literally a salad (uncommon to the Filipino kitchen) with grilled eggplant, tomatoes, tinapa flakes, and Philippine dried and fresh mangoes, topped with a salted egg dressing. The next course was the main, a fancified version of bistek tagalog–the Filipino kitchen’s version on beef stew. This classic is a simple dish that needs only six ingredients: beef, soy sauce, calamansi, garlic, onions, and black pepper. Throw these ingredients in a pan and the dish is ready, but chef Rolando’s take on the classic dish is slightly different. He slow roasted a thick cut of beef tenderloin in a low temperature oven and as for the sauce, he used a demi-glace to thicken the mixture of soy sauce, calamansi, and crushed black pepper. All of this was paired with sinangag, rice sautéed in oil and garlic, because it wouldn’t be a Filipino main dish without rice and as chef Rolando put it, “rice is life.” Finally, the dish was topped with grilled onions, making sure to stay true to its traditional ingredients. Now for the last course, dessert. Just like the bistek tagalog, the dessert was a fancified version of the classic suman—the Filipino kitchen’s version of sweet sticky rice. Chef Jacqueline elevated the classic dish by adding a layer of coconut panna cotta, an Italian pudding dessert. The suman was served with ripe Philippine mangoes and a generous drizzle of latik. The Laudicos definitely chose to save the best dish for last as a majority of the guests chose the dessert as their favorite dish out of the four, and if it wasn’t that, then it was the ensalada. Photos (left to right, top to bottom): Starters - Sinigang soup, Ensalada; Main course - Bistek tagalog; Dessert - Suman w/ latik and panna cotta
Watching the cooking demonstration and then getting to taste their curated dishes was truly an experience to behold. Their passion for food, but most especially Filipino food, translated into their speech and skills, and everyone there saw and tasted this. The Laudicos are a cultural treasure for a reason. They started from humble beginnings working in catering and now they are celebrating 10 years since the conception of their local restaurant in the Philippines, Guevarra’s. Their successes have lead to national recognition as immensely talented chefs, which has pushed them to strive for a larger goal, “it has always been our advocacy to spread Filipino flavors [globally] because Filipino cuisine is still not a mainstream Southeast Asian cuisine, and it definitely has nothing to do with the taste of our food.” It is having this personal and achievable desire that has propelled the Laudicos’ successes.
Tasting a dish that was curated and perfected by the Laudicos is an experience to be had, and it is an experience that can happen at their restaurant, Guevarra’s. If you ever find yourself back in the Philippines, make sure to grab a table and enjoy a meal there because every dish on the menu is a recipe curated and perfected by the Laudicos themselves. It will without a doubt be a flavorful experience and a tip from chef Jacqueline directly, “make sure to order the beef kare-kare, that’s the dish that everyone must try.” Photo: Book signing with the Laudicos