AAA CLUB-BING: BEST SELLERS WITH CHEF JESSIE SINSIOCO
By Ana de Villa Singson
In the Manila food scene, made fickle by the abounding talent and creative offerings of so many flourishing chefs, longevity is coveted and difficult to achieve. Not so for Chef Jessie Sinsioco, who has been 40 years in the business and 18 years in her eponymously named restaurant in Rockwell. While many have come and gone, her restaurant and catering businesses grow from strength to strength. She is expanding and in September, will be opening up Chef Jessie’s Place, a café which will cater to the breakfast and café crowd and showcase the pastry skills which launched her as a premier chef at the start of her career. I can’t wait to visit her new cafe, just 2 blocks away from Rockwell, and sample her bite-sized ensaymada bolitos and filled pan de sal (chicken, tuna, peanut butter) plus plus!
A top chef, favored by the cream of the crop, her every dish is sprinkled with her finesse and classic good taste. A banking and finance major, an unexpected victory in a culinary contest made her embark on a different path and her culinary destiny as one of the metro’s brightest culinary stars began. While her culinary prowess is widely known and touted what is less known is that she has a heart that is pure gold. She has a Hapag menu whose proceeds go toward feeding hungry children. She is a regular mass reader in Christ the King Church and often provides food for the clergy and is celebrated for serving her food to no less than 2 Popes: her crepes samurai was a huge hit with St John Paul II and she catered for Pope Francis when they were in Manila.
With such a sparkling resume, we were truly privileged to have Chef Jessie tutor us in AAA Club-bing, teaching us how to make her very best bestsellers: Chicken Cordon Bleu and the famed Choco Souffle which launched souffles as dessert staples in Manila. Zooming in from Chef Jessie’s Place , she was brisk and efficient and made the dishes look surprisingly easy to make. She made rolling the Chicken Cordon Bleau with Forest Ham and Swiss cheese look so facile and shared the secret of her juicy yummy cordon bleu; a rich lemon butter sauce poured over the pan fried then baked chicken roll. She totally surprised us with her Chocolate Souffle procedure, using her newly washed hands to hand mix the stiffened egg whites and the souffle’s chocolate base and dispense them into individual ramekins. I had never seen this done before and asked her why. She said that the secret of her souffle it to retain as much of the air incorporated into the egg whites and that hand mixing was the best way to mix gently yet thoroughly. She warned that too much handling rendered a hard and dry souffle. And she should know…she launched souffles in the metro after all. Humorously, at lunch in her Rockwell resto a few days after, we were chatting and she said: “Maybe I should not have used my hands. Maybe I shocked the Assumptionistas who are so “sosyal!” I laughingly told her that we loved it and that everyone was commenting that she made it look so accessible, no need to have special equipment, that anyone could make the souffle. I received so many comments from Old Girls who were so intimidated by making a souffle. After watching the demo, many messaged saying thank you for making it look simple, for demystifying the mystical and scary-to- make souffle. Many brave souls have made it since with much success.
As for me, the Chicken Cordon Bleu is now a regular at home, fried, baked, then slathered with butter. I even freeze some rolls for emergency instant use. As for the souffle, I used to make it without much success. My souffles would come out of the oven sky high and gorgeous only to deflate as soon as the ramekin was set down. But not anymore…after the master class with Master Chef Jessie, I can now whip up gorgeous souffles , hand mixed the way Cheffie does, and my souffles now proudly keep their height and taste gorgeous too. Also on the souffle, I have eaten it thrice since…in Chef Jessie’s at Rockwell! Because while I can now make it deliciously at home, there’s no replacing Chef Jessie’s touch and the welcoming ambiance of her restaurant. Chef Jessie…chef par excellance with one of the biggest, kindest most generous hearts in our corner of the gastronomic world!
More power to you Chef Jessie…see you very soon for breakfast in your new Chef Jessie’s Place!
(click each recipe below to enlarge)