Personal Chef clients who should never be personal chef clients

Let's call this character Eddie:


Eddie: (Over the phone) Hello, Chef. Can you do an Italian menu for me and six of my buddies this friday?

Personal Chef: That's a bit close. This weekend you mean?

E: I know it's cutting it close. Saw your ad, and I just moved into my new apartment. Wanted to have a housewarming.

PC: Ok. You were lucky I am free that day. It IS the weekend. Here's the menu. (a 2 minute spiel on what is on offer)

E: Okay. Sounds good. Let's do...(makes a selection for a three course dinner)

PC: Good. Here are your booking instructions

E: Can I just give you a check when you get here? It's an office expense.

PC: On the day itself? Let me see...(ranting and raving in silence, seething). Ok

E: Ok then. See you Friday Chef

PC: Friday



Shopping for the three course menu. Not cheap. Guy knew his food.


1700h Set up the ingredients in the new apartment. Prepare the different sauces and dressings. Broil the chops.

1915h Two guests come in. Eddie tells me that's it. Ok. Too much food. Hell, he's paying for it.

1945h 1st course served. Salad. With an interesting dressing. Wiped clean in 8 minutes flat.

2000h Main course. Kitchen is hazy because of the broiling. But the chops were perfect. Sides were equally decadent.

2030h Dessert. With a cup of coffee and a shot of Sambucca. Anybody else coming? I ask. No? Good. I hand Eddie the invoice.

Eddie gives me a check. Check? Dated to be encashed 4 days from now? Eddie, this is not the arrangement.

E: I know. Sorry. Couldn't pull out some cash today

PC: Ok. As long as this is good.

E: It is.


Woke up at 630h. Had a glance at the check hanging on the fridge. Through my groggy eyes, I spy this check is based in Cebu, with a wierd looking account number. That doesn't look right.

900h with the bank. Check is not good. I send a text message to Eddie 'Banks says your check is not good. Please make payment via deposit to my bank account today'. Eddie: 'k'.


Through text messages 'Eddie, no bank deposit. What happened?' 'Sorry, chef. Company accountant ran off with my money. Will deposit this afternoon'


Over the Phone

PC: You deposited only half?!

E: I will get you the money this afternoon.

PC: I used my own money for your dinner.

E: Really sorry, chef. Promise. Will settle today.


Eddie not answering my calls. Text messages not acknowledged.


Lawyer friend threatens Eddie. Expose him as a fraud to his company. Turns out company is bogus too. Lawyer threatens police. (Of course I know his address. I cooked him dinner, didn't I?)

The following month

Eddie finally settles the last few thousands. After countless threats and visitation from the local police.


This schmuck  is who I will call Mel, as in Mal Carne.

Thursday, Via email

Mel: Hello, chef. Can you do a private cooking class for me and my girlfriend? I came by your ad the other day. Would like to avail of your services. These are the dishes we would like to learn. (lists a few selections, high end in fact, taken from the menu on my facebook site)

PC: Would love to. Here is what it's going to cost. I will send you the invoice shortly.

Mel: Can we pay you when you get here? (Why do these people think this is ok when booking for services???)

PC: Sorry. Burned before with practices like that. I hope you understand.

Mel: I know how you feel. had that experience as well. Wil make the payment this afternoon.

PC: Ok. Will send you the invoice with payment instructions.

Friday, Via email.

PC: Hello, Mel. Checked that you haven't made payment yet. Saturday is booked for you.

Mel: Sorry, chef. Got the flu. Can't make the booking.

PC: But I bumped off another booking for you.

Mel: Can't stop the flu chef.

PC: You do understand you cost me lost income on a weekend.

Mel: Sorry, chef. Not my problem.


For other personal chefs and caterers who want these two characters on their blacklist, just email me. I will gladly send you their contact details.

Black Box Recipe Contest Entry #2

A lovely menu cooked up by Sandra Fernandez



Beef and cheese samosas with mango chutney


Main Course

Stir fried chicken with cashew, raisins, and chile drizzled with sweet ginger sauce



Chocolate rice pudding with ancho chile

Do you think this different? Leave a comment....


Black Box Recipe Contest Entry #1

This menu was submitted by Hans Montenegro. Quite timely for the holidays!


Gratinated eggplant with sage


Braised Turkey Breast with truffled sweet potato


Apple Sorbet

 Please provide your comments


The Personal Chef on a Manila Broadsheet

 This is the first time that I got some attention to what I am doing. Manila Bulletin, one of the premier newspapers in the Philippines, has one its more prolific writers, Anna Unson-Price, write about me. ME! and what I do! Nervous as I am, now treading in unfamiliar waters, I am grateful that I got featured. You can read the article here. Hope it will give you an idea on what I do for a living. Not going to use the word 'passion'. Nope. I will not.

And get this. GMA7, one of the major TV netowrks, wants to do a feature. Whoa!


Top Food and Beverage Trends for 2010

 As our past makes up our future, and 2010 is just around the corner, I have gathered what could possibly be the coming trends. These musings and forecasts come from people I know who are well entrenched in the Food and Beverage industry. Thye were kind enough to share their knowledge and experience. These points are not set in stone, as all trends rarely are, but it gives you a glimpse of what to expect after the fireworks die down.


Food network 2.0 - Social networking has made the world a smaller and better place. With Multiply, Friendster, MySpace and with the explosion of Facebook, more and more people are reconnecting. Eventually a lot of chefs, cooks and foodies signed up and started exchanging recipes. It is possible now to share recipes, techniques and information with people around the world. It then follows that  Food Social Networking will be the next best thing. is currently the leader here with over 3 million users. An upsurge into more efficient food and beverage storage will be noticeable in the 2nd half of the year as the summer festivities begin. Grocery shoppers will be dependent on social networking more than advertising to help them to decide on where to buy and where to eat. A kind of social currency, as the blogosphere has anchored itself as a major word-of-mouth avenue. Gourmet and gastronomy will no longer be an exclusive club for foodies.

Frankenfood - With the latest technologies in bioengineering, it is now possible to come closer to that utopia of the perfect food supply. We should be expecting more consistent food crops, and therefore better quality ingredients. But this has its own sets of controversies. On the other end of the spectrum, the nutritional aspect of food production and consumption will definitely be looked at more closely.

Green Advocacy - Consumers are now more than ever aware of the consequences for irresposible production practices. Tree huggers were right all along. Now the rest of us are catching up. We now look for ingredients, products, restaurants and food and beverage manufacturing that translates into environmental resposibility, efficiency and cost management. It is expected the demand for produce that are treated with little or no chemicals, safe manufacturing practices and sustainable production will increase. More emphasis will be put on local produce which do not require huge transportation expenses. With this, we could expect the rise of celebrity farmers making headway in local production, as well as the interest to have a home garden. We would now know more about seasonality, about the importance freshness. There will be a rise in kitchen composting. There will be more restaurants trying to get 'green certified' to attract the growing number of clientele who are environmentally conscious.
Healthy convenience - Convenience stores will be packing more healthy options on its menus. Additional channels of distribution will be evident as more and more are adopting the grab-and-go lifestyle and looking for healthy alternatives. Quick lunches that pack the nutritional punch will be readily available, in environmentally safe packaging! Copy cat competition will have independent and chain restaurants to adopt new menu items that have been top sellers at competitors. Donut shops are now going into the smoothie business. The smoothie bar will now be incorporating gourmet burgers. Cupcakes will be popping up ridiculously in every nook and crany. Soon there will be so much noise, differentiation will muddle out the true identity of the dining experience. Soon the phrase 'jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none' will prosper. Traditional ingredients from Asia are crossing over from food to drinks, bestowing wellness properties.

Back to simplicity - With the recession affecting the globe, what did we discover? Simple sells. Chefs and restaurants now are capitalizing on the power of classic combinations and pure ingredients. Mad Men has tickeled the Baby Boomer's fancy, so expect a return to Mama's home cooking. 'Rustic' will replace 'molecular gastronomy' as the new buzzword. Foodservice operators have been having success with retro menu items—things that people grew up with. From a culinary perspective, however, many operators have been able to add a unique twist to these timeless favorites.

The Offal Truth - In order to control food costs, savvy chefs and restaurateurs are looking at these odd parts to offset the expensive steaks and chops. Expect specials on tongue and oxtail along with beef and pork cheeks, chicken gizzards, tripe, and other innards and odd parts. Oxtail Ravioli? Beef Cheek in red wine reduction?

Tart it up - Restaurateurs are noticing a trend....we need more zing, more pop to what we eat. By next year, restaurant menus will be featuring a balance in sour, salty and sweet sensations, in the form of pickled vegetables, the rise of Ethnic cooking and exotic flavors. Sugar and spice and everything nice will get it's second serving in the spotlight. Extreme flavors will gain ground. Moody Food that make claims relating to improved mood and emotional wellbeing will represent the
next generation of functional products.

Retail therapy - Supermarket Steak sales will surge as the avid diner rediscovers his own dinner table at home. Artisan items such as goose liver pate, pickled vegetables and salad dressings will dominate the grocery shelves, each capitalizing on 'home grown'. Private labeling will bring back the desire for personal. We will see the emergence of the personal chef service against traditional catering services. The decline in restaurant sales means that operators will try to reach the clientele through new avenues, such as selling TGIF Sauces on  grocery shelves.


What are the trends you have observed that may carry over to the new year? Please post.


How to roast the perfect turkey

Whether you are a novice or or a professional chef, roasting the bird can be quite a challenge. God knows how many turkeys turned out to be a...well, a turkey, undercooked or broiled to a crisp. Trial and error, and a bit of luck, has allowed me to discover the little things that contribute to the perfect roast turkey. These are not set in stone, but the tips will help you get closer to an enjoyable Thanksgiving or Christmas eve dinner.


Remove giblets from turkey cavity and wash inside of thawed or fresh turkey well under cold running water. Pat dry with paper towels. Season the inside of the bird with salt and pepper.
Preheat the oven to 325ºF.
Place thawed or fresh turkey breast-up on a flat rack in a shallow pan, 2 to 2 1/2 inches deep.
Brush or rub skin with extra-virgin olive oil to prevent the skin from drying and to enhance the golden color. Another way is to apply bacon strips on top of the breasts.
Insert oven-safe meat thermometer deep into the lower part of the thigh muscle but not touching the bone.
Place turkey in the oven.
When the turkey is about two-thirds done, loosely cover the breast and top of drumsticks with a piece of lightweight foil to prevent overcooking the breast.

Use this roasting schedule below as a guideline; start checking to see whether the turkey is cooked about 1/2 hour before recommended end times. Turkey is done when meat thermometer reaches 180ºF (for an unstuffed turkey) and juices run clear when the thigh muscle is deeply pierced

Net Weight (in pounds) Unstuffed (in hours)
10 to 183 to 3 1/2
18 to 223 1/2 to 4
22 to 244 to 4 1/2
24 to 304 1/2 to 5

Do you have more tips on roasting the perfect turkey?


South Beach Diet Pumpkin Pie

This recipe is taken from the South Beach Diet Phase 2 Program


Redolent with warm spices, this creamy treat is enhanced with a delightfully crispy, light crust that tastes deceivingly buttery, though no butter is used. Whipped topping and chocolate shavings make a gorgeous and irresistible topping, if desired.


6 (9" by 14") sheets whole-wheat phyllo dough, thawed
1/3 cup granular sugar substitute
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin puree
4 large egg whites
1 large egg yolk
1 (12-ounce) can 2% evaporated milk
2 tablespoons sugar-free maple syrup
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Light or fat-free whipped topping (optional)
Bittersweet chocolate for shavings (optional)

Position rack in middle of oven and heat oven to 350°F. Stack phyllo sheets on plastic wrap or waxed paper; cover with a barely damp towel to prevent sheets from drying out.

Lightly coat 9" pie plate with cooking spray. Lay 1 phyllo sheet in the pie plate. Coat sheet with cooking spray, making sure to spray edges. Repeat with remaining sheets, rotating each slightly in the pan to form a circle. Fold and crimp edges.

Place a piece of parchment or waxed paper on top of crust. Weigh crust down with pie weights or dried beans and bake until edges are lightly golden, about 10 minutes. While crust is baking, combine sugar substitute, cinnamon, ginger, salt, cloves, and nutmeg in a medium bowl.

In a large bowl, with an electric mixer at medium speed, beat pumpkin puree, egg whites, and egg yolk until well blended. Slowly add milk, maple syrup, and vanilla, beating until blended. Add spice mixture and blend well.

Remove pie weights from crust. Pour filling into crust and bake until tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes. Remove pie from oven and cool at room temperature to set. Just before serving, top each slice of pie with 1 to 2 tablespoons whipped topping and chocolate shavings (if desired).

Nutritional information
Per serving:
130 calories
2.5 g fat (1 g sat)
19 g carbohydrate
7 g protein
2 g fiber
300 mg sodium


Black Box Recipe Contest

Market Basket. Every chef, cook, foodie loves this exercise! Get a bunch of random ingredients, put them on a pile, then figure out a three course menu from the lot!

Now I pose this challenge to you. Earlier I asked you dear readers ealier in the week to crawl this blog for clues. And the clues are quite simple. It is the ingredients in all the recipes posted. For the Black Box Recipe Contest, gather the ingredients I will be mentioning for the next few weeks, which will build up to the Black Box Recipe. Create your own Three-Course Menu from the Blackbox. Write down the recipes,photograph your dishes, then post it up on my facebook page or the blog site. You can also email your winning recipe for me to post on the blogsite.

The winning menu will be judged by readers' comments as the best menu, earning a great set of Silicone kitchen tools and a COOKIES CUT OUT T-shirt!

Recipes and menu should be original and never been published. Recipes must use only the ingredients mentioned. Creativity in cooking and preparation is encouraged.

Contest Begins 13 November and will run until 16 December. Winner will be posted on Christmas eve. So get cooking! Anybody can join!


Honey! Honey! I Roasted the Turkey!

Thanksgiving is around the corner, and the travel industry is gearing up to get loved ones together to share the feast of Roast Turkey, stuffings, cranberry, talk, family gossip, fueds, dysfunction and reconnecting. Gather around this recipe for a Honey roasted herbed Turkey, adapted from a recipe by Mirj. The twist is within the recipe. Can you tell which it is? Can you tell the difference it makes?

1 12-14kg Fresh Frozen Whole Turkey, thawed (psst...blow in its ear to thaw faster ;) )

500 ml water

100 g rock salt
250 ml Honey

20 g fresh ground black pepper

50 g whole garlic cloves

50 g fresh thyme

30 g fresh sage

30 g fresh rosemary

1 L good chicken stock

2 lemons, juiced

50 ml olive oil

Remove giblets and neck from turkey and reserve to make gravy with. Rinse turkey under cold water, drain well. Blot dry with paper towels. Set aside.

In a large bowl (large enough to hold the large bird), mix salt, water and honey. Mix until thoroughly dissolved. Add ground pepper and half of the chicken stock.

Place turkey in bowl. stir and pour the brine in and around the turkey. Cover with cling film, then let sit in the fridge 10-12 hours.

Remove turkey. Drain well and pat dry. Discard the brine. Place turkey on heavy roasting pan.

Stuff the herbs and garlic into the turkey cavity.

Squeeze lemon juice into the turkey cavity, then throw in the lemon halves.

Coat turkey with olive oil inside and out thoroughly. Then rub some salt and fresh ground pepper inside out.

Add the giblets and neck to the roasting pan.

Roast in preheated oven at 350F for about 45 minutes to an hour. Baste with leftover chicken stock and juices from the pan. Internal temperature should reach 170F. You check this by sticking a thermometer into the thickest part of the turkey, usually the breast, away from the bone.

Remove turkey from oven. Set aside drippings for gravy.

Let rest 15-20 minutes before carving.

To make the gravy.

In a sauce pot, saute 1 whole peeled white onion, a celery stalk, 1 peeled carrot until tender and slightly colored.

Sprinkle in about 2 tablespoons of flour, then stir to distribute evenly.

Pour drippings into the sauce pot.

Bring to boil, then let simmer for about 10-15 minutes.

Pass through a fine strainer. Discard the vegetables and meat.

Return to heat and reduce by one fourth.

Season to taste with some salt and pepper. Serve hot!


Puffy Creamy Pumpkin Cream Puffs



Holloween has come and passed. And we are left with pumpkin coming out of our ears!. Let's feed the rugrats something delectable, something that would extend their fun. This pumpkin recipe will sure to please even the pickiest dracula or ghoul.


120 g butter

225 ml water

pinch of salt

125 g all-purpose flour

4 eggs


Let's make the cream puff shells

Light up the oven. let the heat rise to 425F 220C.

In a sauce pan place water, butter and salt and bring to a boil.

Stir in flour, and with all your might, beat the crap out of it with a wooden spoon until it forms a firm ball. Your upper arms should ache by then.

While still very warm, transfer ball to mixing bowl. beat in eggs one at a time until thoroughly incorporated.

Grease a sheet, then spoon dough evenly spaced on the sheet.

Bake for about 20-25 minutes. This would be the fruit of your aching arms' labor, as the dough should puff up beautifully.

Remove from oven. Let cool, then cut horizontally with a knife. Set aside.


475 ml whipping cream 35%

60 g confectioners' sugar, plus extra for dusting

3 g cinnamon powder 

450 g peeled pumpkin, steamed and pureed


Stuffing, filling, whatever.

In a mixing bowl, Whip cream until thick with a wire whisk. If your arms are still tender from the above work out, an electric mixer would come in handy.

Gradually add the sugar, stirring until well mixed in. Add the cinnamon. Mix again until you are sure it is really incorporated.

Fold in the pumpkin puree. Continue until well mixed into the cream.

Place filling into a piping bag. Pipe the filling into the baked puffs.

Refrigerate for 15-20 minutes.

Before serving, dust with confectioner's sugar, then cinnamon powder. This makes it look great.


Mama Mia Minestrone!

Mama Mia Minestrone!


50 ml olive oil

200 g white onion, minced 

150 g zucchini

100 g Red kidney beans soaked overnight

50 g White kidney beans, soaked overnight

50 g fava beans, soaked overnight 

60 g celery chopped

30 g minced garlic

900 ml chicken stock

400 g peeled tomatoes, canned

80 g carrots, diced

20 g minced fresh parsley

20 g minced fresh basil

sprig of thyme

10 g ml dried oregano

salt and fresh ground black pepper 

80 g parmiggiano reggano shavings    

100 g elbow macaroni (or , cooked 8 minutes, frained


Heat olive oil over medium heat in a stock pot.

Saute onion, celery and garlic until transluscent, about 2-3 minutes

Add beans, carrots and zucchini and stir 5 minutes.

Add Peeled tomatoes. Stir to distribute evenly.

Add chicken stock to pot. Bring to boil, then lower heat to a simmer. Let simmer 15-20 minutes, stirring occassionally.

When beans are tneder, add in cheese, and stir to distribute evenly. 

Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.

Before serving, add in cooked pasta

Serve hot in bowls. Sprinkle fresh parmesan shavings on top, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil.


Fresh Tilapia Corn Chowder

Fresh Tilapia Corn Chowder

A great refreshing recipe. Several variations are available, but I find this one that would really hit the spot on a cold autumn afternoon.



60 g bacon

10 ml olive oil

70 g celery, diced

60 g leeks, sliced

60 g white onion, chopped

5 g rock salt

5 g fresh ground black pepper

3 g crushed red pepper flakes (optional)

900 ml fish stock 

200 g potatoes, peeled and diced

300 g corn kernels , canned or fresh

550 g tilapia fillets, cut into bite-size pieces

3 g finely chopped fresh thyme

180 ml half-and-half

1 pc lemon, juiced 

15 g chopped fresh chives (optional)


  1. Chop bacon. Add to stock pot with olive oil. Render the fat, 2-3 minutes

  2. Add celery, leek, onion and cook until transparent.

  3. Add stock, bring to boil, then lower heat to let simmer 4 minutes.

  4. Add potatoes and corn. 

  5. Cook until the potatoes and corn are halfway tender , about 5-7 minutes.

  6. Dump in the fish. Let simmer for about 3-5 minutes, skimming as you go.

  7. Stir in cream. Add lemon juice.

  8. Adjust seasoning with salt and black pepper. To add a little bite, sprinkle in a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes.

  9. Sprinkle in the thyme, and let simmer for another 2 minutes.

  10. Serve it stemaing hot, garnished with chives.


This would be good with some crusty bread on the side.