Stories From Our Kitchen

FIFTY GOALS AT FIFTY

Liezl reached out to us wanting to rent the kitchen so that she can have an Indian themed cooking party. The moment she entered our kitchen, we clicked. She loved the space, and we loved her enthusiasm in having this fun birthday party sharing her passion for cooking to her closest friends.

After a series of emails, we agreed on a customized Indian vegetarian menu. Liezl’s son is a vegetarian, so she wanted to learn dishes she could actually do at home. She also knew a number of Indian dishes already, so we had to pick new ones that would also be easy enough for the whole group.

The cooking class was fun with 16 of her batchmates from Maryknoll cooking at the same time. Lots of picture taking, laughter and good food. Towards the end of the event, Liezl was asked to make a speech and she explained that life goes by so fast and people tend to put aside fun things for work, kids and other “more important” matters and as she turns fifty, she wrote down fifty things she wanted to do for her 50th birthday that she never had time for and this big cooking class with her batchmates was one of them. She wanted to share something she loved doing with the people that mean most to her.

There’s no stopping this birthday girl! we were surprised to find out she was free diving the next day in Anilao – as part of her 50 things to do at 50 list.  We are over-the-moon thrilled to have been part of her memorable series of celebrations.

WEEKENDS ARE FOR FAMILY

Friday was the night of Jinkie’s Bridal Shower. This was booked by our old friend Joan who chose a Thai Menu for the occasion. Joan and her family have been to Back of the House in the past. Her kids have joined us for a kiddie cooking class, and she and her husband were with us on Valentine’s Day – so they knew what to expect, and were very comfortable with the space and Chef Phil. It was heartwarming to have them cook alongside their kids, since the party turned into a family affair with some of the guests bringing their kids along.

 

The next day was Elian’s birthday party, whom Chef Phil calls “my favorite little boy in the world”. Elian has been cooking in our kitchen with his little brother Agu for 2 summers already. Elian LOVES to cook, and he loves being in charge of his own cooking station. He knows that when he’s at Back of the House, he’s in charge of his dishes. Mommy or Yaya are not allowed to help! I was so touched that his mom Val said that she gave Elian a choice of many different things for his party, but Elian chose a cooking party.. . that’s our boy! Elian and his 8 friends cooked spaghetti and meatballs as well as unicorn poop cookies. In the age of gadgets and you tube, I love how these kids dropped their phones and tablets for a fun afternoon getting creative and even a little messy.

Every session with Elian and Agu ends with them horsing around with Chef Phil. So on his birthday – this tradition had to take place of course! The boys were all over Chef Phil and I was sure to get a few hugs in too, as these boys are awesomely sweet.

Just as a side note, after the cooking session, Val’s husband generously shared the most delicious wine I’ve tasted here in Manila. I barely drink so this says something!– I must find this bottle of Michele Chiarlo NIVOLE Moscato d’ asti. Let me warn you though that my taste buds are far from refined.

Rafa’s birthday, which was on a Sunday, was the last event for this busy weekend. His Mom Sheryll worked closely with us in making sure the details were all locked down, since aside from the kids, she also invited some of Rafa’s titos and titas to celebrate with them.

Similar to Elian’s party, Rafa’s celebration was all about cooking too. Rafa and his friends cooked beef sliders, corndogs and chocolate chip cookies. We enjoyed teaching Rafa and his cousins basic dishes since most of them seem like kitchen newbies. The parents were busy taking pictures of their little ones, and stealing cookies and corndogs from their kids. It was funny how they needed to ask permission from their kids since the mini-chefs were protective of the dishes they tirelessly cooked. One delighted parent event commented “eh sa bahay nga di man lang yan tumatapak sa kusina”. Crossing our fingers that we’ve encouraged these little boys and girls to help mom and dad more in the kitchen when they go back home.

So that ends our busy weekend. Forgive me for being sentimental as we finish this fun filled weekend – I just LOVE how all these kids and their folks are making wonderful memories in the kitchen. I believe cooking brings kids and their parents closer together. It is also a great way to get them off their gadgets.

In the same way, I remember my baking classes when I was 9, I hope these kids remember that there was a kitchen called Back of the House where they absolutely had fun cooking.

SAY CHEESE!

Last September 5, the California Dairy Board brought the “Cheese Dude” Chef Mark Todd to Manila to teach a group of their special guest bloggers how to make cheese from scratch.

Listening to his presentation, I just never realized there was so much to learn about cheese in general… yes guys, it’s not just a pizza topping after all. Most interesting was that cheese is not really classified by where it’s from unlike most specialty alcoholic drinks but rather by its hardness.

We laughed at his stories of how amazing cheese is sometimes discovered by some guy making a mistake on the formulation or getting the temperature wrong. More often than not, that mistake paves the way for a new cheese being born.

After the short presentation, the group was given the hands-on opportunity to make their own cheese and butter from scratch . In theory, I knew butter was just from heavy cream, but it was a thrill seeing it form just by shaking it vigorously in a jar for 30mins! The group also made ricotta and queso blanco.

After the whole session, Chef Phil and I were able to chat with the Cheese Dude and more than the cheese lessons, the thing that I will always remember about him is his perspective on life. He was given the opportunity to host his own show on the food channel, and be this huge media personality, but he recognized that he is already living his dream life, and want nothing more. He travels the world teaching hundreds of people about something he is passionate enough – cheese. On his days off, he retires to his nature retreat of a home. He is at peace and wants nothing more. Definitely learned a little something beyond cheese from the cheese dude.

WADOUGH’s BAKING WORKSHOP

September 27 was Wado’s hands-on baking class in the kitchen. My sister and I usually tap Chef Wado for our own private baking classes because we believe he truly has THE BEST CUPCAKES in Metro Manila. He is so generous to share his to-die-for recipes with his students. What’s wonderful about his classes is that even if he’s not our in-house chef, he totally adapts our “all hands-on” policy, which means his students get to make their sweet creations by themselves start to finish. It must have been so tiring doing two classes in a day, but he had no choice because the demand for his classes is so high! We look forward to his holiday class in October when he’s back with new recipes. If you guys have time and are in the QC area he also recently opened up his café called WADOUGHs , it’s along Maginhawa st.