A gala dinner at the Marco Polo Plaza Hotel marked the 21st anniversary and induction ceremonies of the Cebu chapter of La Chaine des Rotisseurs. Theme was “Springtime in Paris.”
The hotel’s general manager Hans Hauri had a replica of the Eiffel Tower, emblematic landmark of Paris, erected in the lobby. It stood on a carpet lawn bordered by greenery and blooms in a riot of color.
“C’est très jolie,” exclaimed Michel Lhuillier, bailli delegue of La Chaine for the Philippines, and honorary consul of France in the Visayas.
“C’est magnifique” was the rejoinder from his wife Amparito Llamas Lhuillier, who is the bailli of the Cebu chapter for 21 years now, and counting.
They posed with Hans and Bo Hauri at the Eiffel Tower as did most of the 120 guests who attended. In Cebu for this occasion were bailli de Manille Federico Borromeo with his wife Josephine, and Michel Villar from the French embassy.
Welcoming everyone at the red carpet were members of the Marco Polo executive committee led by Hans, Cebu Hotel manager Julie Najar, sales/marketing director Lara Constantino Scarrow, and Cielo Reyes.
Among them were Jude Pangan, Joward Tongco for F/B, executive chef Stefano Verrillo, Kyra Cabaero, Genalyn Landiza, Michelle Maranga, Sit Baliwa, Tess Catipay, Jessica Dagatan, Cely Osumo and Anthony Villamor.
Causing a stir upon their arrival were former Cebu governor and now Rep. Gwendolyn Garcia and Mariquita Yeung with architect Tessie Javier, Belinda Wong and Dr. Marilou Ong.
Top brass of Cebu’s La Chaine included Teresin Mendezona, Dr. Vivina Yrastorza escorted by Martin Klieger of the Hong Kong chapter, Dr. Nestor Alonso with wife Joji, David Sharpe with wife Joy, and Winglip Chang with wife Pinky whose shop Flora was responsible for the lovely flowers all over.
Before the induction rites and the dinner, the elegant assemblage milled around the ballroom’s foyer sipping champagne or fine wines, and taking those delectable appetizers. The succulent huge oysters imported from New Zealand were getting the rush at a special table.
Gema Pino resisted them till the last moment, and later humorously said she should have given in to “just one more.” Dottie Moras Adlawan said that’s what they were there for to enjoy!
Doors to the ballroom were flung open at 8 p.m., and everyone filed in to fill up two long tables that held a total of 60 each, 30 on every side. There were flowers of every color and texture, and bright lights. It was Paris in spring, wasn’t it?
Soon, the eight-course dinner was served snappily, efficiently, and effortlessly. Each course had its assigned wine, most of them coming from Bibendum wine shop of Margie Richards Taylor. It is right beside Café George in Banilad.
Cebu’s hotel industry was well-represented. There were Hartwig Scholz and Maria Catral from Badian Island, Mr. and Mrs. Edgardo Tongco from Harold’s Hotel, the Waterfront’s Carlo Sainz and Alastair Granger, Dottie Cronin from Alegre, the Marriott’s GM Patrick Carroll with photographer Jose Antonio Nigro and Fernanda Lopez with Carlos Alopont, and Marco Vazzoler from the Shangri-La in Mactan.
In a row of glamour were Marguerite Lhuillier, Iris Arcenas and Alice Woolbright. In another cluster were Angie Mathieu, Rosebud Sala, Annabelle Luym and Carmen Campbell. Right across were Mayen Tan, Elvira Luym and Marissa Fernan.
Glimpsed about: Glenn and Honey Loop, Joel and Carla del Prado, Elise Robilart from Alliance Française de Cebu, Massimo La Magna, chef Adrien Guerrey of La Maison Rose, UK’s honorary consul Tamsin Booth, Frances Siao, Mike and Rose Hennessy with his mom Dela Hennessy, Alice Plaza, Vikki Hermosisima, Rosemarie Dakay with children Pierre, Benson and Mimi.
The dinner was livened by Austrian pianist Franz Langer who opened the musical program with Cole Porter’s “I Love Paris in the Springtime.” Soprano Christa Kruit-Hemetsberger, also from Austria, set the mood with the toasting song from “La Traviata.”
Everyone swooned to the tune of the “Fascination Waltz,” and heartily applauded Offenbach’s “Gaite Parisienne” and a medley from Franz Lehar’s “The Merry Widow,” the quintessential Viennese operetta.
More enthusiastic applause greeted Les Folies de Mwah with their Paris cabaret show, all sparkle and feathers. Top Cebu couturier Cary Santiago presented a Paris-inspired fashion show that drew raves. Richie Mendoza, events organizer par excellence, was warmly congratulated for directing the evening’s program.
The evening’s highest praise was directed at general manager Hans Hauri. “This is the best ever for La Chaine,” Michel and Amparito Lhuillier told him, referring to the superbly served dinner.
“I agree,” Mariquita Yeung asserted, and everyone around her nodded in approval. “I was happy with the oysters,” recalled Cecilia Rodriguez, “and more so with all that followed.”
“Mr. Hauri, do we have to wait one year for a dinner like this?” someone asked. He glowed answering with another question, “what will I do without you?”
“Prepare another such dinner, and we’ll all sign up,” everyone around him chorused.