Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Four Hands Dinner by Chef Mauro Colagreco and William Mahi at The Tasting Room ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Tasting Excellence at The Tasting Room
A very rare four hands dinner by Chefs Mauro Colagreco and William Mahi

I didn’t know what to expect from the Argentinian-born Italian-Spanish chef who proudly claims he is Basque, honed his skills in France, first under Bernard Loiseau at Côte d’Or in Saulieu, and then under Alain Passard at L’Arpege in Paris.

I only knew Chef Mauro Colagreco was awarded his first Michelin star just 10 months after he opened Mirazur in Menton on the French Riviera, and was named “Chef of the Year” by the Gault Millau guide not long after. His second Michelin star came in 2012, along with the 24th ranking in San Pellegrino’s World’s 50 Best Restaurants list. Mirazur is presently the 11th best in the world and the number one in France.

I suspected the chef must be very, very good. But nothing could have prepared me for the excellence I experienced in every single dish he served at the Tasting Room.

Amuse bouche of bacon chip, truffle goat cheese with bacon crisp,
cepes jelly, and foie gras lollipop

My first spoonful of his corn textura, none of the stars and accolades mattered anymore. To me, Mauro Colagreco was simply my newest favorite chef. I still dream about that bowl of sweet corn with farofa chips, polenta, freshly shaved truffles, and a surprise egg yolk confit hiding under the delicious mess. Its gooeyness added another dimension to the airy, creamy, crispy party going on in my mouth. It was sublime.

Corn Textura

Surprise egg yolk inside

 Dom Perignon 2004

And then came the visually stunning plate of wild salmon trout, French mussels, sea urchin espuma, oyster leaves, salmon roe, lemon, and lime zest. Eaten together, it was all the salty, briny, sweet goodness of the sea.

Wild Salmon Trout

Louis Jadot Meursault 2013

It was not my first time to enjoy the cookery of Chef William Mahi, I had relished a great number of his dishes before this dinner, and I knew I was in very capable hands. The chef de cuisine of The Tasting Room after all boasts 19 impressive years of culinary experience in Michelin-starred restaurants in Paris, Lyon, Beirut, Shanghai, and Istanbul. He was awarded Best Apprentice of France in 1998, Running Chef of the Year in China for 2011, and Best Hotel Restaurant in Turkey for 2012. Before coming to Manila, he earned two Michelin stars as chef de cuisine for Spondi in Athens.

I never had fish like the pagre in our next course. I don’t know how a piece of sea bream prepared in the simplest way could taste so luscious, but apparently, Chef Mauro has mastered the skill. The meat was pristine and moist, and served with a side of intoxicating black garlic puree, sweet lily bulb, a single stalk of charred leek, and a special béarnaise made with licorice. I noticed the chef’s use of very few elements in his dishes, giving focus on bringing out each ingredient’s flavor. What a painfully simple yet incredibly exquisite plate!


Perfectly moist and pristine 

 Catena Alta Chardonnay 2010

Not to be outdone was the milk-fed veal filet that followed. Impossibly tender, clean-tasting, and pink but nary a trace of blood, the generous portion of meat was as warm and comforting as a giant bear hug. The purple artichoke on artichoke puree and bagna cauda were beautiful accompaniments to quite possibly the best piece of veal I’ve ever had.

 Veal Filet

As tender as a newborn baby!

 Michelle Chiarlo Barolo Cerequio 2009

Chef William’s lollipops were an absolute delight! The ball of passion fruit and mango sorbet gave my palate a refreshing cleanse, and the lemon sorbet made me beg for more.


Dessert was called Naranjo en Flor or “orange blossom” in Spanish. Tangy orange sorbet tamed by a nutty almond milk espuma, and made more exciting with the crunch of the nuts. Taken together with the slight bitterness of saffron cream and sweet and crisp broken crystalline pieces, it was a fresh, light, and fantastic ending to an incredible dinner.

Naranjo en Flor

Antinori Muffato della Sala 2008

It was evident how chefs Mauro and William share the same principles in the kitchen, championing quality ingredients and preferring not to do too much to the food to celebrate its true flavors. The result is a confident, genuine, fresh, and delectable cuisine that reflects the qualities I admire most in the two chefs—warm, unassuming, and earnest.

With Chefs Mauro Colagreco and William Mahi

Before leaving the restaurant that evening, I wanted to personally thank Mauro again for the incredible experience, but was told he had already retired to his room to spend time with his son Valentine. Now on my bucket list: Mirazur in Menton, France.

Until then, I am most happy to enjoy exquisite dinners by Chef William at The Tasting Room.

The Tasting Room is located at Crown Towers, City of Dreams Manila, Aseana corner Macapagal Avenue.
Tel: 02 800-8080

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