For their gala dinner at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City, world leaders attending the 31st Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Summit last Nov. 12 enjoyed a great selection of Filipino dishes prepared by chef extraordinaire Jessie Sincioco, in collaboration with Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila.
The four-course dinner for 1,500 guests highlighted Filipino culinary creativity and ingenuity in its use of locally grown ingredients, such as ubod (heart of palm), alugbati (Malabar spinach) and wild rice.
At exactly 8:15 p.m. after cocktails at the reception area, the leaders led by President Duterte and US President Donald Trump were ushered to the long table on stage and served the first course, Ensaladang Ubod at Alugbati Salad with tamarind vinaigrette dressing. The refreshing salad with sweet-sour sauce perked up everyone’s palate and prepared diners for the next course.
Sinigang na Maya-Maya sa Miso or Soured Red Snapper in Miso Broth came next. Then, right before the main course, glasses of Dalandan Sorbet were served the heads of state.
For main course, guests had a choice of either Bistek Sushi or Grilled Apahap Fillet. The jazzed-up Bistek Sushi or Filipino Steak Sushi consisted of sushi rice balls covered with slices of grilled US black angus beef tenderloin marinated in soy-calamansi and caramelized onion rings. It was served on a bed of grilled eggplant and Asian salad.
The charcoal-grilled apahap fillet had tomato-mango sambal toppings.
For vegetarian delegates, Sincioco served her signature Wild Rice Vegetable Risotto with spinach and corn curry.
Capping the meal was a plate of Budin (caramel flan), while vegetarians had Mango Sago.
It was Sincioco’s first time to serve the Asean delegates; she worked with the Sofitel team led by director of conference and events Cynthia Esteban.
“Sofitel was so easy to work with,” said Sincioco. “We had fun and enjoyed the experience of serving the world leaders.”
Sincioco said the team had to practice serving the food in orderly precision for five times at the convention center. They were given only 45 minutes to serve the entire meal. They did it at 50 minutes.
“We were happy with the overall reaction of the guests,” she added. “They loved the food. Most of the plates came back empty, including those of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and President Duterte. President Trump didn’t finish his soup and salad, maybe because he talked a lot during the dinner.”