Chef Chele Gonzalez describes new menu as ‘sustainable, very technical, but approachable’
It’s all systems go for Gallery by Chele, as they maneuvered their way to a fully operational restaurant during the pandemic starting last Oct. 1.
It might have taken seven months to set their safety measures up, but it doesn’t mean that they haven’t been productive during the lockdown.
They used their downtime not only to cook for front-liners and poor communities, but they also adjusted their operations to come up with a delivery menu as well as an online deli store featuring in-house specialties like kombucha and charcuterie.
Last June 17, they partially opened the restaurant to cater to private dining. “We needed to be smart with our movement because opening fully might be less beneficial, so we slowly consolidated the takeaway/delivery side of the business with the dine-in.
This is to secure revenue and cover the basic expenses of the business,” says chef Chele Gonzalez.
“We also wanted to get the confidence of the people in terms of safety and be flexible with our menu,” he adds.
To guarantee this, they did their homework and invested in equipment and training to suppress the spread of COVID-19. The staff gets antigen swab tests every two weeks. Service stations are armed with automatic alcohol dispensers. QR code menus, single-use tablecloths and a UV box for cutlery are being used. A purifier ensures that the air within the restaurant’s premises is safe and clean.
Two tasting menus
The team has also developed a new menu to lure guests back to the restaurant. There are five- and nine-course menu options, both of which come with amuse-bouche and petit fours.
“I think it is one of the best that we have had since we started, even from the time of Gallery Vask,” Gonzalez says. “What we made is a very subtle menu that can connect deeply with the diners. Sustainable and very technical, but approachable.”
More than half of the courses on the tasting menu are brand new, including the one named Kraby, which is inspired by the many Christmases the chef’s mom would serve a crab salad with avocado. He gives it a tropical twist by using Papaya Tree Farms’ organic greens and local seasonal avocado that he infuses with extra-virgin olive oil. He adds a dash of acid for that appealing sweet and sour combo, with a sorbet made with roasted pineapple and homemade pineapple vinegar, as well as chewy bits of homemade nata de coco.
Roselle is a delicious ode to the Tagbanua tribe of Palawan, since they commonly use hibiscus as a souring agent. Reminiscent of a sinigang, the dish is composed of a traditional French fumet or stock that absorbs the bold pink hue and flavor of roselle, and a beautiful fillet of high quality mackerel from Meliomar’s sustainable fishing community.
Across the Seas represents two gastronomic cultures—Spanish and Filipino—and how they relate to each other. There’s kinilaw on a cracker to symbolize the original adobo, and to complement that, a hefty chunk of tenderloin with sherry wine jus and red wine, collectively representing the Spanish-style adobo cooked with rosemary, thyme and sherry vinegar. It’s refreshingly different from the Filipino variety that has Chinese influence, as evidenced by soy sauce.
Wanting to highlight the Philippine mango for dessert, Gallery offers an individual-sized Pavlova and uses the distinctly sweet flavors of the ripe fragrant fruit as an anchor for the crispiness and light texture of the meringue.
Though it has been challenging, Gallery by Chele is able to find its footing in the “new normal” and manages to deliver an even better, more thoughtful menu and service. INQGallery by Chele, tel. 0917-5461673; email email@example.com. Open for dinner 5 to 10 p.m., Tuesday to Sunday.