I love Chef Jessie Sinsioco!

9 03 2009

I LOVE Chef Jessie Sinsioco!  I just really have to come clean and get that out there.  You will know why, shortly.

 

Last night, I was able to catch the third episode of QTV 11’s Secrets of the Masters.  Featured was Chef Jessie Sinsioco of Le Souffle fame.

 

Comfortably settling on the couch, with my laptop in tow (as I needed to work on some presentations), I was half expecting to not pay attention to the TV.  It would take a hell of a lot for the TV show to wrestle my eyes away from PowerPoint and my ears to tune out from the “key message bullets” queuing up in my head.  Having said that, I still had high expectations of Jessie Sinsioco, as she has got to be one of the country’s top chefs.

 

I have to say though that I haven’t tried eating at Le Souffle yet…  something about French cuisine intimidates me (hahaha!).  The farthest I had gone to being French was with croissants and onion soup.

 

And to think that as a popular book says, “French women (and probably men) don’t get fat!”

 

I sensed that Chef Jessie Sinsioco was a bit shy – though adorably at that – from when the vivacious Issa Litton introduced her.  Her declaration that, “I prepared a full course meal …” was enough to capture my undivided attention.  And didn’t I say Chef Jessie was adorably shy?  Because that alone was actually enough to demand my worshipful watching.  I shut off my laptop with one closing motion of the lid.

 

One thing I immediately noticed about Chef Jessie was that she was a bit uncomfortable being interviewed on TV by Ms. Litton (but she handled it well all throughout the show).  But the moment Ms. Litton hollered something like,  “Chef Jessie Sinsioco, take it away!”  “take it away” Chef Jessie did.  She took charge from that point on.

 

With her trusty knife on her right hand, and ingredients on the other, Chef Jessie transformed from an adorably shy, reluctant celebrity chef, to a master.  Her authority and conviction could now be sensed from the way she spoke.  She was sure of herself and in control – but someone who didn’t strike fear (in spite of her stature).  And while this was so, I got that feeling that I could just be in the same kitchen with her, and she could be my aunt showing how to cook.  And it wasn’t surprising to know that this was exactly how she got started in her now-successful career in making edible works of art and heart.

 

She started with a Salad of Grilled Black Tiger Prawns with Heart of Palm, Alugbati, Micro Arugula, Crispy-fried Indiam Papadom in an Arrenga Vinaigrette.  Whew!  That’s quite a mouthful.  I could cut its name short – and just say salad(?) – but that would do an injustice to Chef Jessie’s masterpiece.  I couldn’t wait to be able to source out all the ingredients needed for this salad  – the arrenga vinegar foremost – so that I could make a first-hand assessment.  But with what the TV afforded me, my mouth watered.  Really!  The presentation, with the bed of alugbati leaves nestling the “tower” of heart of palm, the prawns, the papadom…  was superb.  It had a play of colors and textures.  It had height.  I could imagine the crunch from the heart of palm (julienned per Chef Jessie), the peppery-nutty bite from the micro arugula, and the sweetness of the beautifully “ribboned” grilled black tiger prawns.  The use of arrenga vinegar for the dressing really intrigued me.  It was the first time I have ever heard of it.

 

I loved the soup course – Cream of Sweet Potato with Malunggay.  Yes, the ingredients are quite healthy to begin with, packed with naturally occuring nutrients.  But what I liked the most was that Chef Jessie’s procedure validated my own way of making chicken broth (miropaux, with turnips!)…  making the cream soup (all-purpose cream is the finishing touch)…  sauteing with a lot of onion leeks…

 

There was no preparing me for what Chef Jessie had in store next.  As if pulling from a bag of tricks, she declared, “Ostrich Bistek!”  In full, the dish was called Ostrich Bistek with Pickled Vegetables and Garlic Fried Rice.  She turned to Ms. Litton and opined that ostrich is the healthiest meat – no cholesterol, low in carbs and low in calories.  When her sous chef laid the piece of meat on the cutting board, I couldn’t help but notice how it resembled a fresh slab of sashimi-grade ahi (yellow-fin tuna).  She cut the meat into discs and pan-grilled them to medium doneness.  On a separate pan, she whisked together her ingredients for the bistek sauce (bistek being a loose Filipino term for steak…).  Still on another pan, she made the garlic fried rice.  The plating was perfection.  Ostrich meat discs spread out like a fan, topped with sweet onion rings, then doused with the bistek sauce.  On the side, she piled freshly made pickled vegetables (I’m keeping her recipe!) and the cone-shaped (she made it herself) garlic fried rice.  I died of envy when Ms. Litton started devouring the dish!

 

As Chef Jessie is actually a (French) pastry chef, she made dessert (and of course, she had said at the start it was a full-course meal).  I’m not one who adores macapuno or anything coconut, but I would probably give her Flambeed Macapuno with Jackfruit Compote and Mantecado Ice Cream.

 

Apart from her very creative dishes – she really seems quite inventive and confident with her choices and decisions – what I liked about Chef Jessie Sinsioco is the quiet, unassuming air about her.  She is articulate and sure of herself, without ever feeling the need to make a faux accent.  This just makes her more endearing to me.  And the way she ran the show, I sensed her control and the absence of any need to impress me (as the audience).  Without trying to, she actually managed to do it – impress me.

 

When she said towards the end that her secrets are hardwork and being grateful, I couldn’t agree more.  She has been extolled by many a lifestyle magazine or restaurant critic – time and again – but she has clearly never lost sight of what her purpose in life is.  I really admire her now.  There clearly is more to her than what I have read all these years.

 

And who knows, I’d probably give Le Souffle a try.  After all, now, I love Chef Jessie Sinsioco!

 

 

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2 responses

9 03 2009
stavemichael

saw her yesterday, never thought she was one of the contributors of that book i always see in “national bookstore”.

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11 05 2009
Michael

Hi,

Do you have any idea how to be a studio audience in secrets of the masters? I’m planning to get my mom there as my surprise for her. Many thanks!

Regards,
Michael

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