Model Eats at Ralph's
One weekend in July, in an area of Makati that was past the cusp of gentrification, I’ve found myself behind the counter of a wine store sipping a glass of Champagne offered by one of the staff. We are at Ralph’s Wines and Spirits participating in the process of tasting and evaluating the 'fruits' of the wine masters around the globe. I can see lots of mainstream brands in the racks; and although many of them I am not familiar with, I enjoy looking at the bottles displayed and shelved in a way a talented conductor leads an orchestra. The experience was spontaneous and interesting on its own.
Eight members of Taste Collection Philippines have their own bottles of wine to test and voice their opinions. Chef Jillian Margareth Abarquez was there, too. More than wine tasting, she executed a fancy menu for the team with an unusual treatment of laing, burgers, and french fries.
We milled around the place and chatted a minute more around the wood-top table before sitting down to eat. Chef Jillian flattered our experienced palates.
The laing (stewed taro leaves in coconut milk) has been perfectly cooked. The creaminess of the dish complemented well with the little sweetness of the coconut milk. It tasted good even without rice.
The burgers have the right combination of cheese, veggies, and grease. Paired with french fries of the crusty exterior, they have everything to build a sensational post-run meal.
Everything was perfect.
Chef Jillian has a great talent in keeping her way with deceptive simplicities. The food she prepared did not only satisfy but also pleases their aesthetic pared-down beauty which very much deserved photography. Also, the delicate combination of tastes lingered to memory.
I filled my Champagne glass once more and it’s half full again.
Good spirits. Good food. I couldn’t have a better time.
A Little More About Chef Jillian
Chef Jillian grew up in Caloocan City, Metro Manila. She’s from a family who loves to cook; in fact, her father is a chef, too. Chef Jillian was a graduate of BS Entrepreneurship but decided to pursue Culinary Arts at Enderun Colleges because food is her passion. She studied under Alain Ducasse program. She worked in the US for some time and opened up her very own restaurant Surf ‘n Skewers in a food park when she came back.
Surf ‘n Skewers was inspired by her love for the outdoors, beach especially. It was a place offering tropical-style food – food that you can find when you are at the beach. Maybe Chef Jillian's gastro stars weren’t yet aligned during that time, and the universe was not ready yet for what she could offer so the food park, where her restaurant was located, closed down after a year. Instead of losing hope, Chef Jillian opted to prepare herself for her next big challenge. She is planning on opening a café sometime soon.
There are a lot of new-blood chefs and restaurants mushrooming around Metro Manila these days. It is difficult to find a good spot on where to plant roots. A lot say, and I agree, that the Philippines has gone fusion. The edges are blurred and you can't judge by the plate who is who anymore. Chef Jillian believes that time will come for everyone. Her mantra, “Always be humble. Prepare and cook from the heart.” says a lot about this youngblood in the industry.
Writer: Missy Penaverde-Ilarde
Chef: Jillian Abarquez
Photographer/Videographer: Mark Tarroza Dizon
Stylist: Carla Villanueva
HMUA: Elle Lubigan
Location: Ralph's Wines and Spirits, 926 Antonio Arnaiz Ave, Makati, Philippines