One day some of Manila’s most demanding diners turned up at Le Souffle at Rockwell for their favorite dishes only to find that Le Souffle was gone. In truth it had been gone for some time, but many of its regulars hadn’t noticed. In its place was Chef Jessie Rockwell Club, which looks like Le Souffle, has pretty much the same menu as Le Souffle, and serves food that tastes exactly like Le Souffle’s because it has the same chef, Jessie Sincioco. So many of the Le Souffle regulars just keep calling it Le Souffle, even if Le Souffle no longer exists.
Chef Jessie Sincioco
I know, it’s complicated. The chef wishes she could go on using the name Le Souffle, but it is owned by the holding company.
Chef Jessie runs two other restaurants: Top of the Citi on the 34th floor of the Citibank Tower on Paseo de Roxas, Makati, and Enchanté Restaurant and Bar on the 3rd floor of Joy-Nostalg Center (same building as Oakwood) on ADB Avenue in Ortigas Center, Pasig.
Chef Jessie invited me to lunch at Enchanté. “What would you like to eat?” she asked. “I eat anything,” I said, neglecting to mention that I don’t love vegetables. (I know they’re good for me so I force myself to eat them but I am not happy.) So she prepared a lot of dishes with healthy greens. And I ate them anyway, and was actually happy.
Appetizer: Salmon Caviar. Mmmm.
Chef Jessie majored in Banking and Finance but hated the accounting part and ended up becoming a kitchen trainee at the Hotel Intercontinental in Makati in 1983. They put her to work cracking and beating eggs and slicing the mangoes for the Intercon’s famous Crepes Samurai. “I started doing 30 egg trays a day, then this was increased to 60 egg trays,” she recalled. She thought the kitchen training was just a temporary thing, but she stayed at the Intercon until 1990, becoming its first Filipino pastry chef.
Enchanté at ADB Avenue, Ortigas, telephone numbers 4704828 and 4704210.
Then she joined Le Souffle with chefs Billy King and Andreas Katzer. Billy King was the one who entertained the guests, but whenever he was away she was forced out of the kitchen to meet the guests and she learned the basics of PR. “So all the declamation contests I joined in school were useful,” she laughed.
The appetizer, as if I needed one, was Salmon Caviar, which looked like a particularly decadent pastry. “Would you like some champagne?” Chef Jessie asked. I declined because I had to pretend to work after lunch. The salad was Heart of Palm with lots of alugbati. “I’m from Bulacan where I grew up eating alugbati. I started adding it to my dishes, and the customers like it.” She feeds alugbati to the rich. And they love it. Brava!
“You know what’s good with that? Wasabi vinaigrette.” So I drizzled wasabi vinaigrette on the alugbati and it was excellent—light and tangy, but without the shock to the nasal passages.
To be continued