CULTURAL POTPOURRI| An Encounter with Waterfront Insular Hotel-Davao’s Three Chefs

IT WAS a heavy downpour, thanks God, which I encountered on my way to the Waterfront Insular Hotel-Davao last April 22, 2015, at 6:00 p.m. What a relief with this long dry spell we’re experiencing this hot summer. The Hotel’s friendly Marketing and Communications Officer, Jessica M. Segura, invited me to meet three of Waterfront Insular Hotel’s culinary personalities at the newly renovated but still open air La Parilla. Naturally, the towering General Manager Bryan Yves Sato Lasala was on hand to welcome the guests and dining patrons that evening. Also making a brief appearance was Miguel Sato Lasala, the GM’s younger brother, who is a popular fashion model in Manila. Miguel recently launched in Davao a clothing brand he owns with his friends as business partners.

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(L-R): F&B Manager Arnelle Cristines, GM Bryan Sato Lasala, Chef Victor D. Barangan, and Arch. Michael E. Dakudao

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CHEF Victor D. Barangan with his Pinoy appetizers

   Presently working as Executive Chef of Waterfront Insular Hotel-Davao is Victor D. Barangan. I first met this now Davao-based culinary star from Manila at the Marco Polo Davao where he once reigned as Executive Sous Chef. Since then, I’ve been an admirer of this talented and creative chef who is deft at creating delicate, well-balanced flavours that allow for Davao’s quality, fresh produce to shine.

    Chef Victor’s menu for La Parilla is strong on Filipino dishes. He says that La Parilla’s delightful offering called Senuelos (Spanish word for lure) of grilled prawns, squid, chicken, pork, beef and yellow fin tuna, which is served with his specially concocted sauce plus Java rice, makes the comprehensive sharing menu accessible and fun for Davaoenos and foreigners alike. “My aim is to introduce diners to the great ingredients harvested from the region’s seas and farms. I intend to create a collection of dishes inspired by the distinct flavours of Davao. I hope Davao’s foodies will take the opportunity to enjoy such dishes here at Waterfront Insular Hotel-Davao’s La Parilla Restaurant,” chef Victor invites.

     Worth mentioning as well are chef Victor’s sweet treats of phyllo-wrapped biko with mango/latik sauce, lecheng puto, bibingka with salted egg slices, and pastillas balls of milk, langka and ube. Indeed, chef Victor’s dishes at La Parilla invigorate and inspire the pleasures and conviviality of the table.

     The current Food & Beverage Manager of Waterfront Insular Hotel is Arnelle Cristines who has a Bachelor’s Degree in Hotel & Restaurant Management from the University of Santo Tomas. Chef Arnelle specializes in Italian cuisine which I am looking forward to savour someday. He started his career as Captain Waiter at the Edsa Shangri-La Hotel where he worked for five years. It was after his extensive training and work experience that he got promoted to Assistant Restaurant Manager. In 2003, the adventurous chef Arnelle left the country to work in Dubai’s Fairmont Hotel as Outlet Manager. Two years later, he became the Operations Manager for the Jawad Business Group in Bahrain. Upon his return to the Philippines in 2008, he was offered the position of Corporate F&B Director of the Days Hotel. He also joined the Bhaya Cruises for three years. In 2012, Arnelle joined H2O Hotels as its Assistant F&B Manager. He then moved on to become the F&B Manager of Best Western Premier, F1 Hotel. “I hope to stay long in Davao. I’ve already bought some properties here for investment; and I am looking forward for my Manila-based family to join me here someday,” the F&B Manager revealed.

     The personable Marinus Berend Sievert Mulder, alias chef Mark, is the Corporate Executive Chef of Waterfront Hotels and Casinos. This Dutch national is equipped with almost two decades of culinary experience from working in free standing restaurants, cruise lines, and international hotel chains in Europe, the USA and Asia. “I am married to a Filipina from Tagum who won me over with her delicious, cholesterol-packed humba and bulalo dishes,” the funny man quipped. Chef Mark is in Davao in his capacity and involvement “in newly built restaurant designs and conceptualization, and outlet and kitchen renovation projects.” The friendly Dutch chef, who gives a very firm handshake (which could be hazardous to your hand), reiterated, “We are in that stage wherein we are creating new and delectable cuisines for the Waterfront Insular Hotel-Davao. We are determined to reinstate and reinvigorate this hotel to what it was in the past: the best luxurious resort hotel with the best culinary offerings and service in Davao City. This is the best located hotel in Davao City to this day featuring breathtaking views of the Davao Gulf and Samal Island. You are literally in a paradise retreat of tropical gardens, serene blue waters and modern accommodation for that ultimate comfort and convenience. And that is matched with friendly and good service. What more can you ask for?”

     Here’s looking forward to great changes at the Waterfront Insular Hotel-Davao. My special thanks to GM Bryan Yves Sato Lasala, Exec. Chef Victor D. Barangan, and Marketing and Communications Officer Jessica M. Segura for the memorable encounter. Here’s wishing you all the best.

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