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Café Marco’s homegrown chefs

/ 06:32 AM October 26, 2013

HIGHLY successful chefs will not hesitate to reveal that they started at the bottom of the kitchen ladder.

I have worked closely with several executive chefs in the first five-star hotel in

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Cebu City—the now defunct Cebu Plaza Hotel. At the same time, I came across many kitchen stewards (also called kitchen porters or helpers) with dreams of one day making it big as a chef. The kitchen steward is an

all-around kitchen worker whose main task is to prepare and clean the kitchen area while running around to help the cooks. The position is an opening to anyone who desires to work in the kitchen even without cooking experience.

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It’s such a pleasure to know the varied personalities behind a dynamic kitchen. And since the popularity of Café Marco in Marco Polo Plaza Cebu in Nivel Hills is greatly attributed to the kitchen team, I didn’t pass the chance to meet two of its chefs after a much-awaited lunch get-together with Sales and Marketing Director Lara Constantino Scarrow.

Junior Sous Chef Nestor Alcoseba Jr., who hails from Carcar, is a

college graduate of the University of Cebu. He supported his studies by working in fast food restaurants Chow King and Jollibee. Here, he was exposed to the concept of serving food, the fast way. He developed a love for food and started as kitchen steward in Marco Polo Plaza

Hotel Cebu in 2006. Gaining experience, he moved on as line cook and leaned the

basics of cooking, from knife skills to sauces, stocks, deboning and portioning of meats, poultry and fish. His culinary specialty focuses on Western cuisine. His Paella Marinera and Lengua Estofado with Mushrooms are two of his stellar dishes.

The other chef is 33-year-old Chinese Station Chef

de Partie Carlos Dingding, who captured my attention because Lara and I enjoyed his “Taho” served from a unique cart that is wheeled around Café Marco. This popular snack I grew up with that’s peddled by vendors in the streets of Metro Manila is made of fresh silken tofu served with thick “arnibal” or syrup made from “panocha” or a chunk of cane sugar and sago pearls. Chef Carlos grew up in Cebu City, a high school graduate whose Chinese cooking skills were honed by his work experience in Shangri-La’s Mactan Resort & Spa, Big Mao, Rasa Marina, Lai Garden, and a few more

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Chinese restaurants. He also cross-trained in Marco Polo Hotel in Wuhan, Central China. His signature dish, Hainanese Chicken, is one of my favorite Chinese dishes. Chef Carlos also prepares Chars Siu or Pork BBQ and Dim Sum delights served in Café Marco’s Chinese station.

These two chefs, being in their early 30s, have a long and promising career ahead of them. With their natural flair backed up by advance culinary education plus training, I could imagine them at the top of the culinary ladder someday.

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