Every gala of La Chaine des Rotisseurs in Cebu surpasses the previous one, and so it was during the induction fete at the Waterfront Cebu City Hotel. Theme was the Four Seasons, interpreted in the décor and by way of a stupendous menu specially devised for the occasion.
Over 120 members, their spouses and friends had signed up for this gastronomic coup of the first magnitude. Almost everyone was there long before the prescribed hour, filling up the foyer to sip champagne and nibble canapes.
Cordial as ever, greeting one and all, was France’s honorary consul Michel Lhuillier who is La Chaine’s Baili Delegue for the Philippines.” Where’s Amparito?” he was asked, and before he could answer, there she was.
She was making a grand entrance, sort of like the parting of the waves, as she progressed down the red carpet. Quite a vision, too, enveloped in shimmering gold lame.
As La Chaine’s Baili de Cebu she had put everything in the right perspective, down to the last detail. “We must begin the program early,” she stated, “Or the dinner will get cold.”
So, everyone filed into a special room with a dais and enough chairs to accommodate everyone. Up they went, Michel and Amparito along with the rest of La Chaine’s Cebu officers: Teresin Mendezona, Vivina Yrastorza, Nestor Alonso, Winglip Chang and Dave Sharpe.
The star of the evening, and deservedly so, was Teresin Mendezona who was first to be called for the imposition of the coveted silver medal, one of the highest awards in La Chaine’s hall of fame.
Teresin has been a strong pillar for La Chaine in Cebu, and so she received another distinction that evening as a new “Commandeur.” Given the same title were Winglip Chang and Dave Sharpe.
The induction of new members then followed, starting with the ladies, now known as Dames de la Chaine: Lucy Lolan Alipio, Sheena Sarmiento, Glaiza Sudaria Roche and Sophie Whitfield.
Dubbed by Michel with a gleaming sword were “Les Chevaliers”: Marco de Amicis, Philippe Bodart, Thomas Le Grand, Alessandro Marineli, Arne Jude Suico Millares, Michael Andrew Paulson, Hugo Persnat Ancep and Mark Sy.
In the fold of “Maitres Hotelies” were the Waterfront’s general manager Grant Raymond Jefferies, the Marco Polo’s Julie Marie Conejero Najar, James Montenegro and Crimson resort’s Kristofer Kuadros.
Kenny Wong of the J Resort (formerly the Imperial Palace) was inducted “Maitre Rotisseur,” while in the classification of “Maitre Restaurateur” were Marco Anzani, Yannick Chantemille and Kevin Hoffert.
The ceremonies over, and after an eloquent welcome speech from Michel Lhuillier, everyone was ushered to the magnificently decorated Pacific grand ballroom. It was all to the credit of Pinky Chang and her staff at Pink Flora.
Four long tables represented spring, summer, autumn and winter according to the colors of masses upon masses of fragrant blooms. Veritably, it was a garden of delights, and more so as Atonio Vivaldi’s “The Four Seasons” symphony was piped in as mood music.
Seated with Michel and Amparito at the autumn table were Kenneth and Annette Gatchalian representing the Waterfront Hotel, Joel and Carla del Prado, Patrick Carroll and Jose Antonio Nigro, and the British honorary consul, Tamsin Booth.
From Macau had come La Chaine’s Baili Delegue Donald Hall and Mme. Supha Kook Phironthai, while from Hong Kong it was Swiss banker Martin Klieger with his lovely wife Wilma.
Seated at the winter table all done up with white roses, lilies and mums was Angie L. Mathieu with close relatives and friends Rosebud Sala, Margie Taylor and Carmen Campbell. Also with them were Louis and Honey Thevenin, Frances Siao, Jurgen and Sandra Pesch, Andrien Guerrey, Ed and Luzviminda Tongco, Anita San Jose and Stella Bernabe.
The Waterfront’s executive chef Sperling Simon did a Herculean job planning and serving the menu. Michel Lhuillier, in appreciation, had sponsored the wines poured, a different one to pair with every succulent dish.
The dinner started with the autumn theme—forest mushrooms, olive oil over caviar, pumpkin marshmallows, spiced pecans and pomegranate spheres.
Winter meant spume of sweet potato (the orange variety as found in Iligan), oregano, bacon bits and black cod in radish puree.
Spring brought in a sorbet of mangosteen and coconut, followed by loin of lamb with lavender juice, and an onion compote.
Summer completed the repast with parmesan ice cream, and as is usual in these dinners, a rich chocolate dessert, aptly described as “un plaisir.”
Who else was there? Rosemary Dakay with her brood—Meme, Rere, BJ and Pierre; Mila Demecillo and Satish Naydu, Dave and Stephanie Sharpe, Massimo La Magna, Christoph and Virginie Caligaro, Alice Plaza, Mariter Klepp, Joward Tongco, Xavier Masson, Jude and Gina Millares, Joji Alonso and Kate Anzani.