Philippine Tatler: What influenced you to become a part of the culinary world? What is it that you love about food?
Joseph Manaois: For me, it is much more than a passion for good cooking. It is a passion for the industry as a whole. I love the chaos and the fast-paced setting of a busy kitchen and the challenges of running a hotel and restaurant. Working in this industry is hard work, so you have to love hard work if you want this career.
PT: What inspires you in and out of the kitchen?
JM: I am most inspired by the beauty of different ingredients, recipes, and the wonderful stories about the different food. I get inspired by the weather and what I am hungry to eat.
PT: As the main dining hub of The Bellevue Manila and a buffet restaurant, how has Café d’Asie evolved?
JM: Café d’Asie started as a Full Asian restaurant serving only Singaporean, Chinese and Malaysian food. In the beginning it only served Ala Carte dishes, but through listening to guest comments, inspiration from other countries and the constant evolving of the food industry, Café d’ Asie developed into a full international buffet. Changes in the buffet layout showcasing live cooking has earned outstanding comments from the guests.
PT: If you could cook any other cuisine what would it be?
JM: I love cooking Seafood Fusion, Creole, European, Mediterranean, Asian Fusion, Thai, Japanese, Chinese, Indian, Filipino, Austronesian and Middle Eastern Cusine.
JM: When you are passionate about what you do, you have more energy. You care more about what you do, when you care about what you do, you can do it better and take pride in what you have done. When you are proud of what you have done, you will be passionate about it. It is a cycle that feeds on itself and increases your capability.
PT: Do you have a favourite type of cuisine or dish from Café d’Asie’s spread that you particularly like? Why?
JM: I am very flexible when it comes to food so I do not have a specific favorite. But what I like is the combination of taste in a complete meal. Starting with something crunchy, dry and salty as a starter, the main course to be semi-solid with taste of either spicy or sour and finally ending with something sweet. The taste must complement each other.
PT: What would you like to tell people when they are eating your food?
JM: I often say in French, “Bon Appetit” or “Guten Appetit” or “Mahlzeit” in German. But when I let people taste my masterpiece, I want my food to tell them the passion that was given to prepare the dish. I want my food to tell them the history and the beauty of creating a chef-d'oeuvre.
PT: What culinary challenges have you encountered that have made an impact on you?
JM: One of the hardest challenges I have encountered was working as an expat in different countries with different cultures. I had to work harder to ascertain my worth as an accomplished Filipino Chef. Being a thriving Filipino Chef in another country was difficult.
PT: What are your favourite ingredients? Or what foods/ingredients are always in your pantry?
JM: I developed my love for fresh local produce, whether I am home or working in great kitchens all over the world. My previous chef has taught me how to love and appreciate the best seasonal ingredients available and respecting the dish creation that can be constructed from local ingredients.
PT: Who is your ideal person to cook for? Why?
JM: The ideal person for me to cook for will be my father. He has taught me to be strong and stand on what I believe in whether in work or life in general. My dad inspired me in abundance and serves such a big role in my life. He goes beyond great lengths to provide me with everything that I needed even if it is on the other side of the world.
He instilled in me to keep on trying and fighting to attain what I want in life, and because of this, I am where I am right now. For me, he is the perfect role model, a combination of sweet and spicy and a perfect brew of spices for a perfect dish.
I adore my father with all my heart. There is no better way to show my appreciation for everything that he has done for me, by concocting a hearty meal.
To know more about Cafe d'Asie, you may www.thebellevuemanila.com.