There was something special in the air last week. The occasion: Florilège x Fores, a special eight-course dinner by chefs Hiroyasu Kawate and Margarita Forés. The night celebrated the unique fusion of Filipino, Japanese, and French fare. Arriving guests were escorted to the ninth floor of Raffles Hotel in Makati where they were greeted with a chilled glass of bubbly upon entering the Mireio dining room. Anticipation built as guests mingled with one another over hors d’oeuvres and prosecco. Meanwhile, at the back of the house, the chefs worked tirelessly to plate the first appetizer of the night.
With all 86 guests seated, the evening continued with a warm introduction from Raffles Managing Director David Batchelor, who introduced the night’s esteemed chefs, Forés, Kawate, and Mirèio chef de cuisine Nicolas Cegretin.
Nicolas Cegretin, Margarita Fores, and Hiroyasu Kawate
An emotional Forés shared her admiration for Kawate and mentioned that it was the owner of one-Michelin-starred Florilège in Tokyo who reached out to her. Forés then proceeded to share that the recurring themes of the night would be sustainability and farm-to-table cuisine.
A handful of elegantly dressed waiters carrying woven baskets made their way around each table. Inside, the amuse-bouche of the evening—Kawate’s young corn. Guests were encouraged to pick out a charred corn husk with their hands and finish the creamy corn puree in two or three bites. Kawate had removed the young corn from the husk and cooked it with polenta and sweet corn then returned back to the husk.
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A few minutes later, a single file of waiters gracefully burst out from the kitchen with the night’s first appetizer—Forés’s blue crab. With military precision, the perfectly synced waitstaff placed the beautifully presented dish on the table. The succulent crab meat was layered between crisp rectangles of lavosh and served with lemon gelee, seaweed, and bottarga sabayon.
The next appetizer, concocted by Cegretin, took the classic French foie gras and paired it with Filipino ingredients. The rich sliver of foie gras was garnished with toasted coconut and positioned on top of a thinly sliced round of pineapple.
Foie Gras served on abakka pineapple
The most visually pleasing dish of the evening was undoubtedly chef Forés’s river prawn. The dish is a play on the Italian Prosciutto e Piselli (ham and peas) combination—the prosciutto taking the form of Iberico lardo and the peas in the form of edamame. The perfectly plump river prawn from Pampanga was wrapped in the Iberico lardo, garnished with calamansi salt and prawn head cream. The dish is symbolic of Forés innovative way of mixing her Italian background with Filipino flavors.
The river prawn by chef Fores
Next up, Kawate’s signature dish—Kitayama Wagyu sirloin. The dish was specially recreated for the evening using Filipino ingredients. This take on wagyu carpaccio with shabu-shabu broth featured crispy rice, alacon, and a tamarind flower. With the dish in front of you, the server delicately pours the hearty beef broth over the top of the thinly cut slices of smoked wagyu.
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Then finally came the evening's highly anticipated “collab entree” of roast chicken prepared by both Kawate and Forés. Kawate slow-cooked each breast and thigh until pale pink in color. The chef personally carved and portioned each piece of chicken at service to make sure every plate was perfect. Kawate’s chicken was paired with Forés’s adlai, annatto oil, duhat glaze, sugar salt, and a crisp fried chicken heel.
To cap off the superb gastronomic experience, Cegretin put together a pre-dessert cheese course made from a 36-month fromage. The comté was served in a martini glass and garnished with dainty herbs. The night’s final dish was another noteworthy collaboration. Kawate created a decadent chocolate and caramel mousse plated alongside a quenelle of avocado pili courtesy of Forés.
When all was said and done, Forés, Kawate, and Cegretin returned to the Mireio dining room as the diners erupted in applause.
Angelo Comsti, Chef Hiroyasu Kawate, David Batchelor, Margarita Fores, Marilu Batchelor, and William Batchelor
The pursuit of environmental sustainability is a cause dear to the hearts of both chefs who partnered with the Gerry Roxas Foundation to aid in the Baroto Project. A portion of the proceeds from the event will be used to procure a fishing boat for the benefit of the local fishermen in Capiz in the Western Visayas region.
Hiroyasu Kawate is the owner and head chef of Florilège in Tokyo. He was named by Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants as “One to Watch” in 2016 while his restaurant was ranked No. 14 in Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants in 2017. Margarita Forés was heralded Asia’s Best Female Chef 2016. Forés built her culinary empire from her passion for Italian cooking. She helms Cibo, Lusso, Grace Park, and Alta in the Ascott. The night had the special participation of Mirèio’s Chef de Cuisine Nicolas Cegretin, a young chef who had worked at Lasserre and Apicius in Paris—acclaimed restaurants known for their modern take on French Gastronomic cuisine.