Quantcast
Latest Stories

Country Cooking

‘Ethnic mutt’ cooking by Bobby Chinn

By

BOBBY Chinn at his restaurant.

While August, feng shui believers say, is the “ghost month” (in short, unlucky, so no projects or events should be launched or held at this time), that hasn’t stopped the launch of projects like Bobby Chinn’s TV series and The Peninsula Manila from doing a Swiss food festival.

Before being that TV creature known as a “celebrity chef,” Chinn had a restaurant bearing his name in Hanoi, Vietnam. By all accounts, it was a successful venture, which probably spurred him to open another one in the southern capital of the country, Ho Chi Minh.

His first foray into TV, he said, was when he was offered the chance to travel and eat and be paid for it. That was for “World Café Asia” on TLC, Discovery Communications’ lifestyle channel, a record of Chinn’s trip through some 20 Asian cities that featured food and assorted culinary personalities, from street food impresario to blogger and chef.

But his newest series, “Restaurant Bobby Chin,” doesn’t make him travel far. He stays put in Ho Chi Minh and every episode is a record of the restaurant under construction. For those who have undergone the misadventure of having a house or shop constructed, you can deduce it won’t be as easy as a walk in the market for Chinn.

Episodes show him trying to cope with a missing kitchen, undelivered supplies, the requirements of a feng shui master, half of his staff members leaving after being trained, bad ventilation, etc.

What’s right, what’s wrong

To see it now is to wonder how it was ever finished—or at least it looked it when we visited. But as all owners know, there’s always something that needs to be done. A visit to the kitchen had Chinn pointing out what’s right and what’s still wrong.

Sometimes a dish had to be brought back to lessen the sauce or refine it some more. Or a supplier gave him a supposedly dark-meat pigeon (like the dark-meat chicken or ulikba) which turned out to be ordinary pigeon colored with squid ink. You sense a sigh in Chinn’s voice and an impatience when he says, “Everything takes time. it’s taking a lot of time.”

He also discovered that the diners’ market in Ho Chi Minh is not the same as in Hanoi. Up north is where the diplomatic corps stays, and they need a place like his restaurant. We do notice that most of the customers in this new resto are expats. Chinn hopes the young upwardly mobile Vietnamese will take to his cooking. But his marketing strategy now is to make it an events venue, which seems to be working, judging by the number of people that crowded almost the entire place as we had dinner in one of the rooms.

In his element

Chinn’s cooking is like an “ethnic mutt,” as he described himself. Half-Egyptian and half-Chinese, he was born in New Zealand, then went to different parts of the world for education and work. So his crab cake was glazed with tamarind. The soft-shell crab we like so much, a specialty in restaurants in Vietnam, was stuffed into a quesadilla with mango chipotle salsa. Squid was cut in strips then bathed with wasabi crème fraiche and served with tobiko (flying fish) caviar.

I thought his single grape wrapped in goat cheese was rather artistic. The grilled quail was also glazed with guava then served with couscous.

“Restaurant Bobby Chinn,” the series, thankfully isn’t just about the stress of construction. Chin goes to where he is in his element—the market, where he interacts with the locals, then to a rice and mushroom farm, even a chiropractor who helps with his back ache. In the day and a half we spent with him, we saw that other side. (More in another column.) Chinn’s new series premieres Aug. 13 on TLC at 10 p.m.

‘Swissness’ festival

Braised veal breast and loin cooked sous vide

“Swissness: More Fun in the Philippines” is a food festival at The Peninsula Manila that will run from Aug. 2-11. The “more fun” bit harks back to the Swiss tourism ad of long ago.

At the tasting in Old Manila, of course there was cheese and wine, a big wheel of Emmental on display. But chef Samuel Linder, who is Swiss, decided to show his own cooking interpretation using ingredients found in Swiss lakes, mountains and meadows. Trout was presented as smoked tartar and then as confit. Veal loin was cooked sous vide and veal breast as braised. And for dessert, a Toblerone lookalike was presented and called a “Penougat.”

All the dining outlets of the hotel will be celebrating “Swissness.” Highlights seem to be the fun “Schueblig Eating Contest” during the Sunday brunch on Aug. 5, a chocolate bar (Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays during the festival) and on Aug. 9, a kitchen party that will offer fondue, raclette, rosti and other traditional Swiss dishes hosted by true Swiss, hotel manager Oliver Dudler and chef Linder.

While food products and watches are clear signs of Swiss presence in the country, a more compelling fact is that Switzerland is one of the top 10 investors in the country and the Swiss community in Manila is the second largest in Asia. After all, Swiss presence in the country is now on its 150th year.

Call 8872888, e-mail diningpmn@peninsula.com.

E-mail the author at pinoyfood04@yahoo.com.


Follow Us


Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter


Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: Asian Cuisine , Bobby Chin , Food , Lifestyle , Television , TLC



Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
Advertisement
  1. How to enjoy Buntod
  2. World bids Gabriel Garcia Marquez ‘Adios’
  3. How Zsa Zsa Padilla found Conrad Onglao; Sharon Cuneta played Cupid
  4. ‘Wild West’ Masbate’s pristine marine gems
  5. Kim Atienza: At home with art and design
  6. How Margie Moran-Floirendo keeps her dancer’s body
  7. Life lessons I want to teach my son
  8. Garcia Marquez left unpublished manuscript
  9. Historic Fort Bonifacio tunnel converted into a septic tank
  10. Wanted: Beauty queen with a heart that beats for the environment
  1. How Zsa Zsa Padilla found Conrad Onglao; Sharon Cuneta played Cupid
  2. Are your favorite malls open this Holy Week break?
  3. Historic Fort Bonifacio tunnel converted into a septic tank
  4. ‘Labahita a la bacalao’
  5. Miss America: Don’t suspend teen over prom invite
  6. How Margie Moran-Floirendo keeps her dancer’s body
  7. This is not just a farm
  8. President Quezon was born here–and so was Philippine surfing
  9. Levine designs womenswear with help from fiancee
  10. Clams and garlic, softshell crab risotto–not your usual seafood fare for Holy Week
  1. How Zsa Zsa Padilla found Conrad Onglao; Sharon Cuneta played Cupid
  2. Mary Jean Lastimosa is new Miss Universe Philippines
  3. Did Angara ruin Pia Wurtzbach’s chances at Bb. Pilipinas?
  4. Dominique–Gretchen and Tonyboy Cojuangco’s daughter–now an endorser
  5. Vinegar test helpful vs cervical cancer
  6. From Jeannie to mom of suicide victim
  7. San Vicente beaches hidden but not for long
  8. Borgy and Georgina are back; others are off–again
  9. Why is the lifestyle set now afraid to wear jewelry–before Kim Henares?
  10. Sen. Angara: I thought Pia Wurtzbach gave a good answer

News

  • What Went Before: Malacañang allies alleged involvement in pork scam
  • Timeline: Napoles tell-all
  • 12 senators on Napoles ‘pork’ list, says Lacson
  • Napoles surgery in Makati hospital successful
  • Save the queen? Aide takes fall for Enrile, Gigi Reyes
  • Sports

  • Mixers trim Aces; Painters repulse Bolts
  • Donaire junks Garcia as coach, taps father
  • ’Bye Ginebra: No heavy heart this time
  • UAAP board tackles new rules
  • Baguio climb to decide Le Tour de Filipinas
  • Lifestyle

  • The best flavors of summer in one bite, and more
  • Homemade yogurt, bread blended with pizza, even ramen
  • Visiting chefs from Denmark get creative with ‘ube,’ ‘ buko,’ ‘calamansi,’ mangoes
  • Salted baked potatoes
  • A first in a mall: Authentic Greek yogurt–made fresh in front of diners
  • Entertainment

  • Return of ‘Ibong Adarna’
  • Practical Phytos plans his future
  • In love … with acting
  • From prison to the peak of success
  • ‘Asedillo’ location thrives
  • Business

  • This time, BIR goes after florists
  • Philippine Airlines to stop shipment of shark fins
  • PH banks not ready for Asean integration
  • Stocks down on profit-taking
  • Banks allowed to use ‘cloud’
  • Technology

  • ‘Unlimited’ Internet promos not really limitless; lawmakers call for probe
  • Viber releases new design for iPhone, comes to Blackberry 10 for the first time
  • Engineers create a world of difference
  • Bam Aquino becomes Master Splinter’s son after Wiki hack
  • Mark Caguioa lambasts Ginebra teammates on Twitter
  • Opinion

  • Editorial cartoon, April 24, 2014
  • Talking to Janet
  • Respite
  • Bucket list
  • JPII in 1981: walking a tightrope
  • Global Nation

  • PH seeks ‘clearer assurance’ from US
  • China and rivals sign naval pact to ease maritime tensions
  • What Went Before: Manila bus hostage crisis
  • Obama arrives in Tokyo, first stop of 4-nation tour
  • Believe it or not: Filipinos love US more than Yanks
    Marketplace