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.
THE BQP ASKS THE CHEF
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.
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!
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 !
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.