CULTURAL POTPOURRI| Clivton’s Cafe de Flore

AS DAVAO grows increasingly cosmopolitan, the welcome influx of global cuisines has truly become apparent. One of Davao City’s newest restaurants, Cafe de Flore (located in the new building of the Gutierrez family’s Davao Wisdom Academy along F. Torres Street), is a bastion of contemporary European gastronomy this side of Duterte’s territory. The 50-seat eatery is barely two months old—yet it has already been remarkably attracting Davao’s foodies. Full credit belongs, of course, to its trendsetting British captain cook-owner, Clive Treweek, and his partner, the former talented member of Himig Singers, Tony D. Mansay. Yes, that’s where the combined name of Clivton comes from.

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CAFE de Flore staff with Captain Cook Clive Treweek

     “For myself, teenage life started in a small restaurant in the City of York, England, where my parents were selling mainly fish & chips at the start; and then diversified into other food products. That was where I gained my initial training in cooking and exposure to the business of catering,” informs Clive Treweek in his clear English accent. Unfortunately, after Clive’s dad’s death, his mother lost interest in the food business and sold their restaurant. “For me, that was my sign to join the British Merchant Navy where I continued catering while traveling all over the world…I would keep my interest on culinary matters and prepare the crew’s meals. Therefore, I became known as the Captain Cook. ”

It was while Clive was working in the offshore oil & gas industry in Doha, Qatar, when he met the hardworking Filipino OFW named Tony D. Mansay of Davao City. “Tony was working in the food & beverage industry in Doha. We became partners and we were soon traveling together in different parts of the globe. We fell in love with the quaint Cafe de Flore while vacationing in romantic Paris. That was where we found our inspiration of putting up a fine dining restaurant in Davao City which we came to realize and opened just this September, 2016,” narrates Clive while Tony nods in loving agreement.

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(L-R): MICHAEL E. Dakudao, Arnold Alindada, Tony D. Mansay and Clive Treweek

Tony, on the other hand, was studying for a Customs Administration degree at the Holy Cross of Davao College when he had to stop schooling owing to his family’s financial constraints. This former member of maestro Bong Aviola’s Himig Singers (from 1991-1999) then decided to try his luck in Manila and ended up working for The Singing Cooks & Waiters restaurant. Tony then worked for a cruise ship as an entertainer for a year. “I was already an entertainer in an Italian restaurant at the Ramada Hotel in Doha, Qatar when I first met Clive. Both of us shared the dream of opening our own restaurant someday. I am just so happy that we realized both our dreams right here in Davao City,” reveals the emotional Tony to which Clive adds, “I never did like living in Manila. There is life outside the National Capital Region; and Davao is the place to be in with Duterte as Philippine President for added bonus.”

“Here at the Cafe de Flore, all our dishes are freshly made to order. This, of course, takes time and the average waiting time is about 20-30 minutes depending on the complexity of the dish. We use only the best quality ingredients for our dishes. We source our fruits and veggies from other areas. For our organic pork, we see to it that the farmer we order from feeds the animals solely with natural food. Our beef supply is from the USA and is certified Angus. We also have organic beef and lamb meats from Australia,” assures captain cook Clive. “And he is strongly against the use of preservatives like MSG in our food. Clive uses only minimal salt and pepper for taste,” Tony emphasizes.

“All the breads and cakes served at the Cafe de Flore are made right here in the restaurant’s kitchen. We only use organic flours even for our Tagliatellie which is made daily. These dishes represent our budget end of the range as we can prepare these at low cost to our diners,” says the captain cook.

Even the waiting staff has been personally trained by the meticulous Clive and Tony. The waiters had to learn the basics of proper table set up, etiquette and wines. “We take pride on this matter and we do strive to keep the highest standards for the people of Davao City,” guarantees Clive.

With Arnold Alindada as my sole dinner date at the Cafe de Flore (maestro Bong had rehearsals that evening), we were fortunate to try the Capitan’s traditional French cream of tomato soup with croutons. Then followed el Capitan’s grilled ribeye steak with Bordelaise sauce. The prime grade and excellently marbled Angus ribeye steak was so good to the very last bite. It came with a serving of seasonal veggies, mashed potatoes, and a generous drizzling of the traditional French Bordelaise. The French Beaujolais wine Captain Clive served us was truly a perfect match to the savory steak.

Arnold made me try his seafood Tagliatelle with caviar, a one-of-a-kind seafood pasta invented by a certain chef Pepot after years of experience in Western kitchens. Maestro Bong Aviola and Arnold Alindada’s fave pasta dish consists of crabs, prawns, mussels, white squid, caviar and a secret pasta sauce. The pasta comes with freshly baked garlic bread.

The Capitan made sure we also try his traditional chicken adobo (minus the toyo) topped with salted eggs. According to the Capitan, this Spanish dish was introduced to Filipinos without the use of soy sauce at the start. The Chinese cooks were the ones who originated the use of soy sauce in adobo later on. Well, the Capitan’s toyo-free chicken adobo still tasted like delicious adobo!

I was so full by the time the dessert, a slice of the heavenly Red Velvet cake, was served. Surprisingly, the Capitan’s cakes are not too sweet to cause diabetics their dreaded nightmare.

Do try Cafe de Flore. Believe me, it’s worth your calorie intake. Thanks you, Captain Cook Clive Teweek, Tony D. Mansay and Arnold Alindada for a wonderful evening of Cafe de Flore’s culinary delights.

Posted in Lifestyle