Executive Pastry Chef Jerome Benda is responsible for the queue at the confectionary section of  Café Ilang Ilang at The Manila Hotel.   His baked creations are luring diners like bees to the honeypot.   Think of chocolate eclairs, scones,  assorted cookies,  cakes , strawberry panna cotta and  crème brulee .  Just to sweeten the deal  a little bit more,  there’s also  a chocolate fondue to dip your favorite fruits into.  And  for the piece de résistance , every guest MUST taste the star of the dessert bar — the french macarons.

Café Ilang-ilang’s dessert station boasts of luscious pastries, custom made cakes and a variety of delectable sweets.


These delightful melt-in-your mouth macarons are baked using a perfect combination of almond powder, egg whites and icing sugar

Have you always wanted to be a baker?
In school, I was very good in Mathematics.  There were only two choices for me – to be an accountant or to be a baker.  I got to do both.  In the army, I was an accountant and now I’ve been all over the world doing what I do best – creating  my signature pastries.

“I want my joy in baking to result in the pleasure of eating.” Chef Jerome earned his certificate in Professional Qualification in Pastry, Chocolate and Ice Cream Making in Vincenne, Paris. Prior to his stint in Manila Hotel, he was the head pastry cook of the King of Morocco.

They say baking is a science as well as an art.  Is that true for you?
C’est vrai!  In creating my macarons, for example,  exact measurements must be followed.  After that, the mixture has to stay inside the refrigerator for a number of hours to get the right bite and flavor.  Keeping it in the cold for too long or too short a time will result in disaster!

So it seems that the French Macaron is not only everyone’s favorite dessert but yours as well.
Yes, the macarons and the cheesecakes.  I try to infuse local flavors in whatever country I work in.  When I arrived in Manila, I immediately asked what  the Filipinos love to eat and they said “ube!”  We tried it in the kitchen and voila!  The ube macaron is the most popular out of the eight flavors that we serve now at Café Ilang –Ilang.

How many macarons do you bake in a day?
Easily 600 during the weekdays.  On weekends, when we have over 200 guests, my  chefs make over a thousand!  People line up and I see them putting five or six macarons on their plate.  That puts a smile on my face. Truly, Manila Hotel is the house of  french macarons!
What can the dessert lovers expect next?
Well, I’m adding three or more flavors to the french macarons line as well as the mille-feuille (custard cream slices).  I like to surprise the guests with my creations.  So just come on over and enjoy the treats!



Chef Jerome with M and R. My kids love the chocolate fountain and the macarons!

With that, I decided to try the blueberry cheesecake that Chef Jerome recommended.  DELICIOUS! I had already consumed all the flavors of the multi-colored macarons and decided that mango was my favorite.  So many desserts, so little time!  I’m already planning my next visit !

Baked cheesecake topped with blueberry compote.

Satisfy your sweet cravings and visit Café Ilang ilang at The Manila Hotel.  Call 527-0011 or visit www.manila-hotel.com.ph for more information.

With a pocketful of glitter,


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1 comment

  1. The picture of the macarons in making me want to bite it! Looks chewy, soft and delicious! My favorite is the coffee!

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