Soon after the Pope’s departure from the Philippines, word spread fast about the people behind the scenes during his visit. When I learned that Chef Jessie Sincioco was the one who served his meals, I immediately asked my mom to schedule an interview with her. Tita Jessie is one of the most respected chefs and restaurateurs in the industry. Although mom was a bit disheartened that The Plaza wasn’t invited to cater, contrary to previous trips of the pope to Manila, she felt much better as soon as she learned who was chosen to serve Pope Francis. We both know that Chef Jessie deserves the privilege and prestige that comes with serving the Pope.
Tita Jessie tells us her first hand experience with serving the pope. How they would get up early in the morning to make sure that breads were freshly baked every day. It had to be baked in Chef Jessie’s at Rockwell and transported to the nunciature. Her elation while telling her stories was so infectious that mom and I were just so entertained and intrigued. You can feel the excitement as if you were there behind the scenes with her. There was also a lot of food talk involved including what the pope liked to eat, what he liked to drink, and the behind the kitchen bloopers which I definitely enjoyed the most. Chef Jessie says that the pope had a very tight schedule that even during meals, he would be meeting with people. And because of this, she decided that her main objective was to make sure the pope was fed well and enough to give him energy. We then started to talk about what the pope ate and had the first hand experience at trying the dishes she and her team prepared for him.
Chef Jessie tells us how she had to carefully research and do several trials for the food especially for the breads. Every day for breakfast, she would serve a bread basket with an assortment of 7 kinds of bread: ciabatta, croissant, brown roll, sesame roll, hard crust and 2 kinds of media luna, plain and sweet. Media luna is an Argentinian bread which kind of looks like a croissant but is more bread-y rather than flaky. This means that it also contains less butter. The plain media luna is also used for sandwiches for their snack or breakfast sandwiches with their cold cuts from Italy. The sweet media luna is sugar glaze with lemon flavor and lemon zest. Breakfast was also served with butter and jam, cheeses, yogurt and a fruit platter.
After almost wiping out the bread basket, we were served the dumpling soup. The dumplings are made out of ground chicken, chopped fresh herbs and cream. It was like a meatball but very very light. It was served in beef consomme. Chef Jessie says that the pope enjoyed this so much, he asked for a 2nd serving. I definitely would have if I could.
For the main course, it was a choice of either the roast beef or the sea bass. I ordered the sea bass while mom had the beef. The roast beef was U.S. Black Angus au jus, served with baked potato and steamed broccoli on the side topped with forest mushroom gravy. The meat was very tender. I would have asked for more from my mom but felt guilty since she only tried a small piece of my sea bass. Sea bass is one of my favorite fish. It has a distinct taste that even seasoning it with just salt and pepper and covering it in flour, then pan frying it will do the trick. We normally have it with teriyaki sauce or lemon butter sauce but Chef Jessie’s tomato-artichoke heart cream sauce was just the right richness for the fish. It also came with grilled vegetables and mom’s favorite at Chef Jessie’s the wild rice risotto.
The set menu came with a dessert of mango flambe in a martini glass topped with mantecado ice cream. It was soooo good I could have had another serving. I know for sure that my lolo Joe would have liked it.
The set menu is priced at Php2,500 for the sea bass as the main course and Php3,000 for the roast beef. It might be too pricey but 50% of the price will be donated to the Tulay Sa Kabataan Orphanage, which Chef Jessie is an advocate of.
And here’s a bonus picture of Chef Jessie with her team that served the pope, chef Bai and waiter Christian. Yes, they were only a 3 man team, which I think is amazing. How Chef Jessie and her team handled the service with that amount of pressure and to be able to whip up the meals with just 1 assistant in the kitchen is quite impressive. To learn more about their first hand experience or to try the Pope’s Holy Meal, drop by Chef Jessie’s at the Rockwell Club.
For reservations and inquiries:
CHEF JESSIE’S – ROCKWELL CLUB
G/F Rockwell Club beside the Powerplant Mall
890-6543 / 890-7630 / 897-7516 / 729-0155.