There was a large turn-out of guests, more than 70, some of whom had signed up weeks in advance.
Michel and Amparito Lhuillier were in their element, welcoming one and all at the entrance, offering champagne flutes bubbling with “Lhuillier Brut,” specially bottled for them in France.
They had double roles that evening, first as owners of the Gustavian, and then as premiere members of La Chaine. Michel heads the organization in the Philippines, while Amparito is the “Baili” of the Cebu chapter.
Among the first to arrive were Rep. Eddie Gullas and his wife Ming-Ming. She was wearing a frothy pink number she said she could not resist in a shop at St. Tropez when she visited the French Riviera last summer.
There was a good attendance from La Chaine’s Cebu top brass: Teresin Mendezona, Vivina Yrastorza, Nestor Alonso with wife Joji, Al Evangelio, Dave Sharpe and wife Joy, Alliance Francaise de Cebu director Louis Thevenin with wife Honeylet. Louis announced the wines that would be served, stressing that the white from the Loire Valley was specially good.
The Marco Polo Plaza Hotel’s general manager Hans Hauri was present, with his wife Bo, food and beverage director Stefan Wieprich, and executive chef Luke Gagnon. The next Chaine event in Cebu will be the 18th anniversary gala with a Christmas theme, at the Marco Polo, on Dec. 6.
“That’s my birthday,” said Michel’s sister Angie L. Mathieu. She and Carmen Campbell were admiring the masses of blue/violet “million flower” clusters that adorned the tables. The more bluish hydrangeas are, the more iron in the soil, they were told. Cecilia Rodriguez said that in Spain they are called “hortensias.”
Marguerite Lhuillier was looking great after spending a few months in Paris. Wonderful, she was telling cousin Margie Richards Taylor who is based in London, and dear friend Mariquita Yeung. Introduced to Qatar Airways Cebu manager Mohammed El Emam, Margie said she had a great flight, and exclaimed about the luxurious premiere terminal in Doha.
At the warm food buffet the main attraction was the carving station dispensing the most tender, juiciest roast prime tenderloin ever with a choice of sauces. Perfect with it were the steamed vegetables flavored by olive oil and a dash of vinegar.
Movenpick’s director for business development Helmut Gaisberger came with wife Lorena, and collected congratulations for the success of Oktoberfest at the Movenpick in Mactan on the last Saturday of October. There was beer, as well as sausages galore, plus lively music from the Bavarian Sound Express band flown in from Germany for the event.
Glimpsed: Efren Belarmino of Plantation Bay, Gabby Leyson with Tina Jordana, Vikki Hermosisima chatting in French with Juliette Blouin from Alliance Francaise, Bob and Susie Oliver, and Joachim and Christina Schutte from the Mactan Shangri-La.
More Glimpses: Marvi Sala, Michel Marchand, Carlo Spema, Massimo Lamagna from the Michelangelo right next door to Gustavian, Honey Loop and Mayen Tan, Martin Klieger who is based in Hong Kong, Genie and Tacky Efthimiou.
Inevitably, before going home, many directed their footsteps, baskets in hand, to the adjacent mini mart to shop for French gourmet delights like mustard from Dijon, varied versions of foie gras, bottled chestnuts, asparagus spears and sausages. Most amused was Michel Lhuillier himself, standing close to the cash register, flashing a smile as he said “Merci, merci.”