Chef Jessie Sincioco’s Top of the Citi on Paseo de Roxas, Makati, served as venue for corporate events and even romantic proposals. After 23 years, the restaurant closed last July, but it’s said that when one door closes, another opens. In Sincioco’s case two doors have opened.
The first came about through Fred Yuson of CWC Interiors who used to have his showroom and office in the same building as the restaurant. Now in the new CWC showroom in Bonifacio Global City, Taguig, is the first of two newly opened Chef Jessie restaurants.
The menu won’t be as extensive as the one at Top of the Citi since space is limited and most of the prep and cooking will be done in the commissary. But the items guests have come to love, such as steak, sea bass in miso and souffle, will be available and just as good.
“I’ll keep a small menu, which will include lunch and dinner sets, but we will change it often, when I see the need,” says Sincioco. She will add new creations as well, dishes that can’t be found in any of her other establishments. There will be sliders, including roast beef and chicken-pork adobo, and a number of desserts inspired by the Vitra chair designs that diners can find in the showroom.
There will also be Spaghetti à la Freddie, a pasta dish born out of Yuson’s joking request. Spaghetti cooked al dente is tossed with fresh tomato concasse, chorizo and grilled eggplant, then topped with kesong puti. “He has tried it and he liked it a lot,” she said.
Her own place
Sincioco’s other major project is “my own place, finally.”
She found a lot at the corner of Pililia and Obrero Streets in Makati, in a part-residential, part-commercial area. The ground floor has a cafe fit for meetings and snacks, a pastry shop where her cakes, breads, ice cream, pastries and beloved kakanin will always be available.
Among her offerings is My Tita’s Special Delight, the mango cake that won her the grand prize at the Great Maya Cookfest in 1983. It remains a winner with its two layers of tender pound cake sandwiching luscious mango cream and sliced ripe mangoes.
She also has pan de coco, Spanish bread and ensaymada balls topped with grated cheese and stuffed with ham and cheese.
Other pastries at the cafe are classic Strawberry Shortcake, Sugar-free Chocolate Mousse Cake, the Gloria Gateau named after Gloria Diaz, and the pistachio-speckled Princess Carmen, Jessie’s sweet tribute to her mom Carmen.
On the third floor is the kitchen, and conveniently below and above are the events floors. The second level can host a group of 60 and another party of 80, while the fourth floor can hold events for 200 guests. On the top level is the office, a beautiful chapel, and a roof deck.
Being her new home, it is fitting that Sincioco decided to serve the food she misses, food her mom would cook for her. There’s sinigang soured with guava, thickened with taro and made without shortcuts, kilawing puso ng saging, lumpiang ubod, sisig, and bangus rolls with bistek sauce.
She will also serve traditional dishes from her province such as the Pinatisang Baboy, bone-in ribs that have been painstakingly cooked for hours in a vat of deep-flavored tomato and pork stock.
The Sinampalukang Manok has chicken pieces and chopped tamarind leaves swimming in sour soup, while the Ginataang Biya has small-sized fish, the tender meat of which flakes easily, in coconut milk.
“Owning a building was never part of my dream,” says the chef. “That is just too much to dream of. But in my life, I take things as they come. And I welcome anything I know comes from God. It’s His project, not mine. I am just an instrument.” —CONTRIBUTED
Chef Jessie’s BGC: CWC Interiors Showroom, G/F Milestone at Fifth Avenue Building, 5th Ave. Taguig
Chef Jessie’s Place: corner of Pililia and Obrero Streets, Makati; tel. 0917-8330797