A Fruit of My Labor

Finally! As the title suggests, a fruit of my labor! Hallelujah! 

Okay, so on Nov. 12, I was surprised and ecstatic to find a message from Stephen "Steve" Aznar, the chef/owner of Cafe Elysa, in my FB. He personally messaged me to invite me to a small cocktail party on Nov. 23 (Wednesday) at the resto to launch their 2nd floor and new paintings. Wow! This blew me away! I just couldn't believe that an owner of one of the resto's I covered would actually invite me to an exclusive party such as this. 

If you haven't read my post on Cafe Elysa, here's the link:

I was very excited because it would be a first event from my blog and nervous because I didn't know much what to expect. I decided I couldn't go alone for fear of being left in the corner to rot because I knew I wouldn't know anyone aside from Steve and Joy. So, I asked for a "+1" so I could bring along my friend Ejay Williams, a video director and photographer. Fortunately, my request was granted. :)

I had class til 6 pm that day but I sneaked out a half hour earlier so I could change and get to the party on time. Heee. Yay me.

Dress code: casual chic 
Time: 6:30 p.m. -9:00 p.m.

The stairway leading to the 2nd floor was romantically laden with candle lights on each step. At that moment, it was still surreal for me to be there. If I haven't mentioned, I actually never met Steve yet til that day. He warmly welcomed me though and entertained me more than adequately. I was offered some cocktails with choices of White Sangria, Lychee Martini or White Wine. I had the White Sangria first. There still weren't much guests because according to Steve, most of the guests were coming from an earlier event at the Waterfront Hotel. 
finally met Stephen Aznar!
And I just noticed in the photos that Steve and I are wearing identical color of wardrobe! Haha. Cheers!

the first few guests when we arrived

Meeting and chatting with Steve, I found out that the resto was actually also an art gallery of which paintings by Steve's artist friends were on display for purchase. These paintings, I've noticed since my first visit here, are really lovely. So show some patriotism, support local talent and get some of these paintings. They're really something to be proud of. :)

Paintings by Vidal & Tony Alcoseba and Roy Badayos.
paintings at the ground floor
hallway to the ladies' comfort room
I have to mention, this is one of the few resto's in town that has the prettiest  restroom. I especially love this one on the 2nd floor with a wall of paintings. :) 
inside the ladies' room
A furnishing collection from one of Steve's friends is also displayed at the 2nd floor and are available for purchase for interested buyers. Like this Chinese screen:
w/ lychee martini in hand ;)
Steve and I also talked about his culinary journey, how he studied and worked in New York and came back to share his knowledge. Such a down-to-earth, warm and great man indeed. I am so honored to have finally met him. 
The name of the resto, Cafe Elysa, is actually also taken from his mother's name, Ely Sanson-Aznar. It is "the only local and travel-inspired cuisine in the heart of historical Pari-an" (Joy Uy, manager). 
me and Ms. Joy Uy, manager of Cafe Elysa
me and Ejay

When the guests started pouring in, I found that Ejay and I were definitely the youngest among all. And all the guests were elites of society (whom I certainly could not easily mingle with). It was really overwhelming just being there. Anyway, on to the food!


  • Chicken Liver Pate Sauteed w/ Apple
  • Elysa Spring Rolls w/ Chili Sauce
  • Banh Mi Toast
  • Beef Cake with Red Curry
  • Pureed White Beans with Roasted Garlic and Basil Dip
  • Eggplant Caviar
Deviled Eggs
Beef Cakes w/ Red Curry on Cucumber
These cute beef cakes were delicious! The red curry was subtle and the fresh basil leaf on top also gave a flavor boost. 
me with the dips:
Eggplant Caviar and Pureed White Beans with Basil and Roasted Garlic
served w/ focaccia cubes
These dips were so good. Both were interesting and definitely appetizing. I kept going back to these. The focaccia's herbs blended well with these, too.
Chicken Liver Pate Sauteed w/ Apple
I loved how the apple added a sweet twist to this rich, creamy pate. First time to try chicken liver pate. Two thumbs up!  
Banh Mi 
This was one of my faves on the menu for the night. Since Steve just came back from Vietnam, he was inspired to reproduce and mod this dish up for the cocktails. This is chicken breast with a sweet chili sauce over some vegetables. So good. :)

The Elysa spring rolls are also a favorite of mine but we weren't able to take a good pic of it because everyone gobbled it up as soon as it was served. :)

There was also a special guest for the night, Mayor Mike Rama, who took the honors of the toast with a speech. And of course, I just couldn't pass the opportunity to have a photo with him. :D
with my friend, Mr. Mayor ;p
His honor, Mayor Mike Rama, toasted to Pari-an as a heritage in Cebu. He said that it is the place to take your kids to if you want them to know about Cebu's heritage. He also said, "Cebu is Pari-an". Cheers to that! :D  

Stephen Aznar (chef/proprietor), this author, Joy Uy (manager) 

It was indeed an overwhelming and honorable night for me. One for my history books. Haha. Thanks to none other than Stephen Aznar, a most welcoming and warm host. Congratulations to Cafe Elysa on their 2nd floor and for the great food and cocktails that night!   

Photos by: Ejay Williams (http://500px.com/ej6williamsand 
               Needs & Solutions (http://www.facebook.com/NeedsAndSolutions)