Veuve Cliquot and Restaurant magazine selected the Filipino chef for her culinary prowess, artistry and entrepreneurial spirit.
By J. M. Towers
As it has become the annual tradition, Champagne giant Veuve Cliquot and the British magazine Restaurant jointly selected the best female chef in Asia.
This year, the prestigious award went to Filipino chef Margarita Forés, who will accept the prize on February 29 at a gala ceremony to be held in Bangkok, Thailand.
The Award—established in 2013—recognizes exceptional female chefs whose artistry and culinary skills, as well as their entrepreneurial spirit, are deserving of the respect and admiration of critics, gourmands, and fellow cooks. Last year's winner was Hong Kong's Vicky Lau.
"Margarita Forés is a worthy recipient of Asia’s Best Female Chef Award. A true leader in her country’s restaurant sector, her dedication, culinary skills and pioneering efforts have elevated the dining scene in the Philippines and set a new benchmark for other chefs and restaurateurs to follow,” said William Drew, Group Editor of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants.
Forés, a native of Manila, is a fervent admirer of Italian cuisine since 1986, when—during an extensive trip through the Transalpine country—she had the opportunity to discover its authentic recipes while exploring the colorful and well-stocked markets in Florence, Milan, and Rome.
Upon her return to the Philippines, she decided to fulfill her dream, and, in 1987, founded Cibo Di M, a high profile catering service, which soon earned her an excellent reputation.
Ten years after the success of her culinary foray, she decided to open Cibo—her first Italian restaurant in Manila—where she introduced her countrymen to gourmet cuisine while upholding the work of local organic food producers.
Elevating the triumphs of Cibo—as a starting point—Forés created Lusso, a luxurious champagne bar serving avant-garde cuisine. Grace Park--her next gastronomic concept--champions the values of the Slow Food trend, offering farm to table dishes. In each of her restaurants, the award-winning chef presents lovingly prepared dishes, always with the freshest local ingredients and in pleasant and friendly atmospheres.
The generous chef shares her knowledge of Italian cuisine with younger students. In 2013, she teamed up with Casa Artusi, an important and historical culinary institution in the city of Forlimpopoli, Emilia-Romagna, to open Casa Artusi Philippines, where students learn the ancient techniques of traditional Italian cuisine. Casa Artusi Philippines is located in Manila and is the only branch of the famous Italian learning center in this part of Asia.
Although Margarita Forés is a master of Italian cuisine, she is also a staunch advocate of Filipino gastronomy. The chef has written several books on the regional dishes of her native country, which appeal to an international audience, eager to know about these Asian traditions. ■
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