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Taste of Thai at Marriott’s Garden Café


SITUATED in the city’s upscale financial district, adjacent  to Ayala Center Cebu with  its flourishing Food Terraces, Cebu City Marriott Hotel keeps culinary offerings at
its coffee shop Garden Café constantly attractive and tempting. The refreshing  dining area amidst lush greens complements the delectable cuisine that the hotels executive chefs whip up.  Lunch at Marriott’s Garden Café with Thai Executive Chef Chachpol Suaisom,  Argentinian F and B Director Fernanda Lopez and Public Relations Manager Charlene Go was a welcome treat after a hectic month in Makati  for the wedding of my son Jason. The new Marriott  F and B team is fairly new, having assumed their posts only in the last quarter of 2012. The exciting changes were evident with the warm welcome of General Manager Bruce Winton and Marketing Director Chacha Rama.

Former F and B Director/Executive Chef Brandon  Mahoney has moved on to the much talked about five-star Marriott Hotel Manila set in the world-class casino entertainment complex  of Resorts Word Manila in Newport City in Pasay.  Executive chef Chachpol is a soft-spoken Thai whose looks are just like a Filipino’s. His adventurous spirit at a young age brought him to Japan after acquiring the rudiments of cooking in his native Thailand, to work and acquire more skills. Just like any accomplished chef, he worked up the ladder and started as Commis for Moriya Food Company in Japan. He has also worked extensively in London, Dubai, a Royal Cruise Liner based in New York ,and joined the JW  Marriott Hotel Bangkok in 1997. His last post before joining Marriott Cebu City was  Executive Chef of JW Marriott in Lak Phang Nga in Thailand.   I just love Thai cuisine and Chef Chachpol’s specialties will be featured in the daily buffet offerings of Garden Café.  Before serving his creations, I assured Chef that I like dishes fired up with chilis and  seasoned with fish sauce (our native patis). For openers, we shared Thai Grilled Beef Salad—medium rare beef tenderloin dressed with a mixture of lime juice, palm sugar, fish sauce with fresh coriander leaves, garlic, spring onions, celery and
rendered spicy with small red hot chilis.

His Oysters Rockefeller were exquisite— plump oysters topped and baked with sautéed onions, fresh parsley and spinach in butter and finished with breadcrumbs. I enjoyed two delicious pieces.  Choo Chee Gung Nang or River Prawns with Sweet Red Curry Sauce was another palate pleaser. My  favorite flavors—fish sauce, red curry, kaffir lime leaves and red chilis in coconut milk brought out the sweet taste of the fresh prawns. The last dish before we headed for the buffet layout was Bourride of Salmon Fish, a French fish stew or a cousin to Bouillabaisse that is thickened with egg yolks and flavored with garlic.

River Prawns with Sweet Red Curry Sauce
(Courtesy of Chef Chachpol)

300 grams tiger prawns, peeled
100 grams red curry paste
50 ml vegetable oil
300 ml coconut milk
10 ml fish sauce
20 grams palm sugar

5 grams Kaffir Lime leaves, finely shredded
5 grams red chili shredded

Heat vegetable oil in wok until hot. Add red curry paste and fry for 3-4 minutes over medium heat, stirring constantly, Add a little coconut milk to loosen the lumps and fry until fragrant. Add the rest of the coconut milk to the curry paste. Stir well and bring to boil. Add tiger prawns and simmer for
3 to 4 minutes until prawns are just done. Season with palm sugar and fish sauce.

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