Rougie is the most popular foie gras company in France. Just last week, I was invited to the kitchen of Tivoli at Mandarin Oriental Manila in Makati, to watch, with a few others, a cooking demonstration on the preparation of this French specialty, which happens to be my most favorite food on earth.
Chef Jocelyn Deumie, the Rougie representative in town, has worked with foie gras for five years now. Pan-fried, poached, pâté and Magret du Canard were the the dishes he prepared, and we were able to sample most of them. I tried a raw duck liver that I thought hardly had any taste, but the richness of the fat content came through. There was a slight balut aroma.
We tried a pâté foie gras with freshly cracked black pepper; pan-seared foie gras; poached; and, lastly, poached then seared.
I preferred the pan-seared variety. After the two-hour demonstration, we sat down to a most amazing experience—a seven-course dinner of everything foie gras. I was afloat in heaven the entire evening.
We had foie gras crème brûlée and fig jelly; foie gras terrine gourmand and pickled mushrooms; wild mushroom cappuccino with grilled chestnuts mousse and pancetta; pan-fried foie gras with smoked eel, haricot blanc and trompettede la mort; sweet miso consumed with enoki; roasted veal tenderloin forestiere with potato foie gras cake; and truffle sauce and white chocolate mousse with apricot compote and foie gras ice cream.
All of these were paired with Bollo wines of Italy from Raymond Joseph. Amazing meal!
The following morning, I learned a lot more when I shared the experience with my mom and a very interesting story came out. I didn’t realize what an even more interesting culinary life my mom, Nora Daza, had been exposed to. I was telling her about the Rougie demonstration and dinner when she mentioned that she herself knew Jean Rougie, owner of this huge foie gras company.
“I recommended his son to Cornell University in Ithaca, while the other son went to Lausanne in Switzerland. In fact, I was invited to his son’s wedding,” she said.
Talk about rubbing elbows with these culinary biggies. I was impressed. She also mentioned how she met all these culinary icons from France. Because of her TV exposure in the country and the Aux Iles Philippine restaurant that was making waves in Paris at that time, she was invited to a cooking show on Paris TV with French chef, cooking show host and cookbook author chef Raymond Oliver.
She became good friends with the popular chef and his second wife. In Oliver’s show, she cooked chopsuey, something new and fascinating to French televiewers then.
I do remember seeing this gentleman and his wife a few times in our Paris restaurant. Mom also told me how she met Rougie, Gaston Lenotre (owner of the largest and most popular chain of pastry shops in France), Paul Bocuse and chef Jacques Manier. These gentlemen chefs, all French culinary icons, were introduced to her by Raymond Oliver.
Chef Paul Bocuse had just been given an award at that time by French president Valery Giscard D’Estaing for introducing nouvelle cuisine to the world. Soon after this, my mom was able to invite and bring chef Paul and pastry chef Gaston Lenotre to Manila to prepare a dinner they called the “meal of the century.”
She remembers only the main dish: veal with truffles with Mille Feuille or flaked pastry. In the dinner were a lot of government officials and gourmets like Manuel Collantes (who sang), now Senate President Johnny Ponce Enrile and wife Cristina, Conrado Calalang Sr., Luis Araneta, among others. (President Marcos and Imelda were not in the country at the time).
All this happened on the second floor of Au Bon Vivant Makati, where SM now stands, right across Hotel Nikko.
My mom had all these culinary connections, and now I remember how my sister Nina was able to work in Perrigord. Rougie recommended her to work in a friend’s hotel kitchen. The hotel is called St. Centennaire. She was the only female among about 13 chefs. She was just an assistant then, but the experience was priceless for her.
I remember Nina getting up at 5 a.m. in our Paris apartment to take a train to her place of work. My sister Stella, meanwhile, was able to study in a popular school called La Varenne, and also apprenticed at the Lenotre main commissary and kitchens. Connections, connections!
Let me brag some more. I have a signed menu of a Paul Bocuse restaurant in Lyon, France (addressed to my mom). In my bucket list is a meal in his restaurant—with him there. He is now 86.
Going back to my Rougie experience, my strong suggestion is to check out Tivoli at Mandarin and experience something you will talk about your entire life. Call them to check the availability of the Rougie foie gras (Mandarin Hotel, tel. 7508888 ext. 2223). What an experience. I love what I do!