Anthony Bourdain visits Cafe Ysabel!

anthony bourdain came to our restaurant!

YES. Yes and yes. These pictures are real. Anthony Bourdain is in Manila. I still feel a little light headed from what happened. The big secret was — Anthony Bourdain…pure inspiration, was coming over to Cafe Ysabel to try out some Filipino dishes by Dad. Even Juday was star-struck (and to think she’s already a huge star to begin with)!Β  I mean who wouldn’t be?!

My day started when I headed onto Cafe to see what I have to do for the shoot. Luckily, the chefs already had things covered and all i needed to do was figure out how we were going to plate things. Toby, (the famed plate crasher) started to put his lights up in the small classroom of CACS. Cafe had an exclusive function for a lavish 1st birthday but the hosts allowed us to use Cafe Ysabel’s function room for Mr. Bourdain’s show. And so the waiting…we waited for the crew to finish lunch and get setup…but what we were really waiting for was Chef Tony! We all talked about the food that he would like and hopefully the Filipino stuff we’ll be bringing out with be interesting and thrilling enough for his taste.

And so dad started his demo in front of the camera, I was watching the footage from Todd’s small LCD screen. Yep, he shot in 24p which made movements all the more delicious. At the same time, we were all just waiting around the room, taking pictures and helping dad out in this endeavor…These guys gave us the opportunity to put Filipino cuisine in the world’s gastronomic map!

In the middle of dad’s duck al caparas…came mr. bourdain. We looked like fishes huddling in one side of an aquarium as chef tony made his way from the car to the small kitchen’s door. I saw juday’s face turn pink with surprise. Our chefs hurriedly grabbed their cameras like a bunch of parents during their baby’s first steps. The shooting and the grumbling and talking seemed to stop when he entered the room. He seemed like he was almost 7 feet tall…well maybe around 6’5.

“Hi, how are you?” he reached out his hand and shook dad’s. Instantly, almost all our chefs got around to fixing and lining up to shake his hands, all in one second. And we did like a bunch of graduates. He went up along with Jared (who seemed to coordinate everything to the last good compulsive detail) into Cafe Ysabel, while everyone else was left in awe trying to get over seeing one of the culinary icons very known to our generation.

Okay I had some participation in Dad’s demo, but I dare not say anything till I get to watch his show. I’m sure that I might not even be seen (or maybe I’ll be another hand model like in my latest work at YUMMY). But anyway, I got my salad and brought it up to their table where they were already shooting the show with Chef Tony along with Juday and Dad. This was all very exciting, I was sweating. I wasn’t sure if it was the lack of air-con in the area or the horribly huge amount of people mostly dressed in chef’s whites, huddling into one corner trying to not be seen by the vidcams. And so we watched and waited, and we waited for reactions or any good sign that he was getting into our cuisine. People moved in and out of the way, trying to get their cameras to not have flash or any sort of noise. Jared smiled and told me I can take pictures, just as long as I hide and my camera won’t make a sound…i felt like a spy, or those groupies that waited by the door just to get a glimpse of the rock star.

Bourdain was the rock star. And his crew were the ultra cool band members.

After a few sips of wine, Milmanda (which dad and i brought home from the Milmanda estate itself last year from Spain), I eventually calmed down, I even got down to talking to Jared about their Philippine food journey.

After the courses, I heard a few laughs and it was pack up time for the crew. The horde of fans (who were mostly us) anxiously waited outside the function room on when it was okay to go inside and meet chef Tony. Suddenly I was being called to have their pictures taken (that’s the hard part about being the shutterbug…you usually end up the least documented since you’re clicking away for everyone else). But alas, I got one good picture. Me, my bro and Chef Tony. He looked at my name, “Wow, this is Italian” and signed my book who’s pages have begun turning yellow from the years it’s already spent with me. After all the pictures (and yes, Juday was the star too since a lot of people wanted pictures with her), my dad invited the crew and chef tony on a last food hurrah before they left…a cocido dinner.

“We should’ve shot this”, chef Tony said, after eating a piece of cured duck and morcilla. “Is this really Filipino?”…”Yes, we have a less glamorous version called pochero, but the cocido is usually served on big gatherings” I answered.Β  My brother asked him about our homemade morcilla, “Yes, that was the first thing i put on my plate” He answered.

and so out came the pale pilsens and their entire crew sat down for dinner, but they were still a little stuffed from lunch. the chefs and the crew all got to talking about their previous adventures…

the point is…I got to eat cocido with THE Anthony Bourdain!

Anyway so after an hour, off they went. And the chefs and i still had a few laughs about the “Murphy’s Law” that happened during the shoot. But anyway, it was almost negligible. Now I have a nice book, a photo and a memory…I wonder if we’ll get copies of it on DVD?! :p

again, i’m so proud of my pops. πŸ˜€


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  1. Great recap, Giann! I’ll watch out for the episode next year πŸ™‚

  2. OMG he’s here! I am such a fan! I’m so envious right now!

  3. Congratulations!
    I would have probably had been tongue-tied and starstruck the whole time.
    Just wondering, how many people were part of his crew?

  4. WOW – that’s all i can say! hope you dont mind if i link to this post. hubby is a big fan of anthony bourdain πŸ˜€ thanks! πŸ™‚

  5. giannina

    “I would have probably had been tongue-tied and starstruck the whole time.
    Just wondering, how many people were part of his crew?”

    There was Jared, Rich, Alex, Toby, Zack and Chef Tony πŸ™‚

  6. Long live Juday!

  7. Wow I am so excited for you!!

  8. wow! i am a big fan of anthony bourdain! can’t wait to catch this episode!
    i so envy you gianna for meeting him personally!
    πŸ˜› heehee

  9. curious, why was Juday there?

  10. giannina

    @ rona
    well janice was there too heheh, and so was beth tamayo

  11. giannina

    according to bourdain, the episode will be running on discovery next year, Feb. 16, 2009! πŸ˜€ can’t wait!

  12. Paul Ricafort

    Could have cut office or any weekend ride for this. Congrats to Cafe Ysabel and to everyone!

  13. danny ho

    wow,i am fan of a. bourdain.i have to stop by cafe ysabel.

  14. beny arceo

    Anthony Bourdain,I Am big fan.I wish i was there.Congrats Cafe Ysabel I have to stop by next time I home…….cheers.

  15. How did Juday get to join them there? Is she there as a Filipino food connoisseur?

  16. i’m just curious… of all people, why Juday????? was their not any filipino celebrity that can better represent?

  17. i’m a big fan of anthony & enjoyed watching his shows. the phil episode will be shown here in the US on monday so i’m looking forward to that! am so envious of you guys! read his “kitchen confidential & nasty bits” & i’m reading his 3rd book “a cook’s tour” i love this guy! thanks for sharing us your experience w/ bourdain & his crew! btw, who’s juday? a friend of my friend was the one who toured anthony in binondo!

  18. did not see this on no reservations…. did it get cut out? i was looking forward to seeing your restaurant.

  19. i watched the episode last night at the travel channel. i wonder if the cafe ysabel shoot was cut. i didn’t remember seeing it. πŸ™

  20. I watched the show last night and i have a record of it…i did not see any of the pictures above nor the mention of this. Nonetheless, the whole show about Filipino cuisine was great, I miss the Philippines so much! Can’t wait for my March vacation….

  21. I know! I think our segment didn’t fit into the rustic theme. Ah well! Still happy though, he signed my boook! πŸ˜€

  22. This segment got cut but it’s still featured on the No Reservations website under his itenerary:

  23. Your segment didn’t fit I guess in the one-hour format. But you were mentioned in the travel channel’s website as part of Tony Bourdain’s itinerary. Check link of Anthony Bourdain.

  24. Disappointed

    I saw the episode and no sign of Cafe Ysabel. The show focused a lot on this guy who was touring T.B. around China Town. I was thoroughly disappointed with his explanations of the dishes and its origins. His reference to North and South without any context made it sound really anecdotal and quite frankly, really amateurish. I wish we had a super smart foodie who knew our food and more importantly its history and maybe some fun facts about the region for visitors who are interested and want to learn what we eat and little known things about it. That would be THE selling point for any visitor to the P.I.

  25. I saw the episode Saturday but Cafe Ysabel was not featured. I did see the nitty-gritty areas such as pampanga’s aling lucing and cebu’s lechon. i kinda liked the episode but it barely touched the filipino cuisine. i would have liked for Anthony to have visited the other areas of the Philippines.

  26. I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don’t know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


  27. I guess this part was cut because the food they served didn’t seem authentic Filipino. As Tony, associated it as an Italian dish.

    That is the problem with Filipino restaurants, they cook food that are not really what typical Filipinoes are usually eating in their homes, in the streets, in turo-turo establishments, or anywhere Filipinoes tend to eat… Just like Bobby Chinn’s adobo, they did not even use soy sauce. I myself would not recognize that as a adobo…. Maybe that’s what Tony was looking for…

    I’m sorry, no offense, that’s just my opinion.

  28. giannina

    Well kapampangan adobo doesn’t use soy sauce. It uses patis.
    People use soy sauce to cheat and cut the cooking time short so they wouldn’t have to wait for the fonds to build for deglazing.

    Bobby Chinn was a bunch of laughs…someone fed him an isaw from the streets of quiapo and he ate it. WAH! I hope he has hepa shots

  29. Whew.. kakainggit.. becoming a chef is my ultimate dream.. how much more kung makasama ko si Anthony Bourdain sa picture? wohoooo

  30. i know this post is a little old, but i think it’s timeless and well-written. is it possible for me to feature it in my blog next month? it would mean displaying your picture with bourdain with a link to it. please check my blog first to decide if it’s appropriate. here’s the link: thank you.

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