Chefs United: The Best of Marco Polo

Marco Polo Plaza Hotel's Culinary Journeys at Cafe Marco is a monthly sojourn of exciting flavors that one should look forward to. What with special guest chefs from other cities and countries sharing their signature creations giving Cebuanos and tourists an exclusive opportunity to taste these, there's always something to look forward to at the Marco Polo. 

Having realized as I wrote this post that I've been consistently invited to this series for more than a year now, I feel so blessed and fondly recall my most favorite of the series when they featured a separate extension of Filipino street food to the regular buffet for January 2013

I somewhat mentioned that they fly in guest chefs from other cities or countries. This time, they finally feature their own brigade of sous chefs, under the supervision of Ms. Jessica Avila, who have been running the hotel's award-winning dining outlets. This edition is called "Chefs United". 

I have personally worked with these guys as a culinary intern back in 2009 and it makes me feel so proud and happy to see them succeed and achieve this recognition. It's about time they shine because I can attest that they are the hands behind each block of dish that has built a concrete institution that is the renowned gastronomic experience only Marco Polo can offer in Cebu City.

[photo by Marco Polo Plaza Cebu]

My excitement was brewing as the chefs were presented in a parade with each of their masterpiece in their hand. Each one was then asked to give a brief description of their dish. My eyes glittered and I was so ready to pounce at the dishes just at the sight of them. 

Without further ado, here are the masterpieces…

(from top to bottom, left to right) Embutido by Chef Cornelio Tolo, Baked Pasta in Pumpkin by Chef Riz de Gamo, Beef Teppanyaki by Chef Ricky Monares, Chicken Tikka Masala by Chef Juanito Abangan, Lengua Burgundy with Coconut Wine by Chef Macario Escorra, Pata Tim by Chef Carlos Dingding, Beef Rendang by Chef Roseller Camomot, Paella Valenciana by Chef Nestor Alcoseba, Ricotta Cheese Strudel by Chef Rodelio Galvez, and Bourbon Basted Barbecue Ribs by Chef Luigi Mangubat

As soon as we settled down in our seats, the first dish brought to the table was a huge platter of assorted sushi rolls by Chef Corneli Tolo, Sous Chef of the Garde Manger (Cold Kitchen). Oh yesss, that Uni Sushi Roll (first thing I grabbed) was a winner. I seriously felt it calling me. ;)

The rest of the dishes then started pouring in continuously. The highlight of the night has definitely got to be the chefs gracefully serving us their creations. It felt very personal and heartwarming as if the chefs were feeding us themselves. 

Chef Carlos Dingding and Chef Juanito Abangan serving some dimsum made by Chef Carlos Dingding -I loved this!

          Each dish was certainly special in its own way - a masterpiece, and rightfully so. You could really taste the passion strewn all over it by the crafty hands of these artists. Some really did surprise me and a number were captivating. Unfortunately, there were some dishes that I missed to taste but my personal favorites would have to be the Beef Teppanyaki, (the sushi is a given), Lengua Burgundy, the dimsum and the Pata Tim. :D

Chicken Tikka Masala by Chef Juanito Abangan

And then dessert by Executive Pastry Chef Rodelio Galvez: Ricotta Cheese Strudel with Ube Macapuno Ice Cream. I loved that this dessert was not too sweet at all. The savory ricotta cheese was a great match with the sorbetes-like ube macapuno ice cream. It was substantial yet light.

Ricotta Cheese Strudel w/ Ube Macapuno Ice Cream

This was also a night that changed my life because it was my first time to genuinely appreciate bean curd pudding,  locally known as "taho". And this is exactly one of the best parts of food tasting - developing the palate. I have attempted several times to appreciate this on the streets but it just couldn't befriend my tongue. I could only tolerate two sips the most. And finally, after twenty-two years, I have come to terms with this fellow. This is probably the healthiest street food in the country (as long as you cut back on the brown sugar syrup) and it was just majestic, steaming from a mobile cart. It seriously caught my heart at the first spoonful - smooth, fine, warm, subtly sweet. This delicate creature melted in my mouth and smoothly sailed down my throat. From that point, spoonful after spoonful mechanically found its way up to my lips and I delightedly savored each one. Indeed, sometimes the most heartwarming dishes are the simplest ones.

Bean Curd Pudding a.k.a "Taho"

That said, this edition of the Culinary Journeys is now one of the best of their series to date. I would really recommend you folks not to miss this. There's so much more in store for you, dishes I have not tasted that you may get the privilege to.

Congratulations to all the chefs and Ms. Jessica Avila for a truly interesting and successful edition!

Chefs United is ongoing at Cafe Marco until September 29. For reservations and inquiries, visit Marco Polo Plaza Cebu's website at www.marcopoloplazacebu.com or refer to the contact details below:

Marco Polo Plaza Cebu
Cebu Veterans Drive, Nivel Hills
Lahug, Cebu City 6000

Contact: (032) 253 1111
Email: info@marcopoloplazacebu.com
Twitter: @5StarInCebu

"To know Cebu, eat Cebu! :D"

oink oink,

Babe for Food
- your BFF in Cebu dining! :)


  1. BFF is so lucky to get invited to all the Marco Polo events! Marco Polo! I can't believe karon ra ka naka appreciate ug taho hahaha

    1. Hehehe. I do consider it a great blessing. Marco Polo has really introduced me to a lot of new dishes and new experiences. And yeah! Karon ra jd ko nka angay og taho nga more than 2 spoonfuls ako nakaon. :)) I would've finished the whole bowl if I wasn't so full. :))

  2. Thank you for this heartwarming and inspiring story of friendship and appreciation in the name of food, Babe For Food!


    1. Always my pleasure, Marco Polo! Thanks for all the great experiences! Cheers! :D

  3. Thank you Justinne!! :)