It has been a wonderful year for food in Manila. So many new local restaurants with great concepts and creative food have opened, and a lot of young chefs have surfaced, showing that they, too, can join the big guys.

We interviewed 8 chefs from Manila (with the exception of one, who is based in Pampanga) and asked about what’s on their menu for this year’s Noche Buena.

We asked three questions: What they’re planning to cook, their predicted food trends for 2015, and the ingredients that they would like to see used more often.

8. Chef Barni Alejandro-Rennebeck (The Sexy Chef)

This year, my family will have a potluck Noche Buena Dinner. I decided to make a Baked Cheesy Salmon Casserole and Rosemary Lemon Garlic Roast Chicken.

In 2015, I predict that people will be more aware of the importance of a healthy eating lifestyle. The trend is to use ingredients that are all natural and preservative free. I want to promote using local ingredients and seasonings made of coconut such as coconut sugar, coconut nectar and coconut aminos. Not only do these products taste great, they also provide many nutritional benefits.

7. Chef Marco Javier (Leona Art Kitchen)


I’m preparing:

Beef and mushroom 4 cheese lasagna made with fresh pasta
Southern style/Cebu-style BBQ chicken
Southern hickory smoked BBQ pork belly
Grilled 100% beef patties w/ pico de gallo, home made sour cream, cheese and freshly made tortillas
The regulars like ham, fruit salad, etc.

Food prediction…I don’t know man, Im realy not a culinary scene type of guy, but I think there’s more good food to watch out for in the streets! I wanna see people use fresh herbs more, hehe (not only for cooking!).

6. Chef Migs Pacheco (Open Kitchen)

Well for that event it definitely calls for comfort, traditional food we grew up eating even before I started cooking, some nice country ham, cured meats, cheese platters, some grilled shrimp finished off with lime…some nice bread and probably a whole roasted chicken.

People seem to be stepping up with the food scene now, a lot of new artisan restaurants seem to be opening in areas that aren’t so commercialized yet, I see that as a good thing too, I think with today’s time people will be pushing for more local ingredients and trying to improve flavour with the use of patience for more organic farming, and I hope fish prices come down! Ha.

Personally I would want more local ingredients used, and I hope that people growing organic can pass on the knowledge to the rest and even home residents would grow on their personal space. And nice to have all berries from Baguio available to the people that live down here in Manila

5. Chef Jeremy Favia (TV Host)

Planning to make stuffed lychees wrapped in bacon. will stuff the lychees with cream cheese and prawns, wrap it in bacon skewer it with a fresh rosemary sprig ten grill it! Flavors are bold and the yuletide essential ingredients are present, a succulent combination of pork and fruit.

I think organic eats for the generation now, will be a food trend next year. As food vanity will go for the coming years. Any edibles that would look good in a photo would continue to be a trend (especially when it’s healthy) Wish we had less fast food and more REAL food.

4. Chef Vince Garcia (Rainforest Kitchen)

I’m planning to cook food that caters to everyone, like my mom’s kakanin, which is made in the native way–with a touch of calamansi and ginger. I fell in love with my moms kalamay. It’s very simple yet extraordinary in flavor.

For the main course, a touch of kapampangan cuisine,  like our native biringhe topped with duck confit–from kapampanagan to French. Roasting is one of my favorite cooking methods because this very delicate specially for the beef, turkey stuffed with biryani rice or biringhe.

I think because of having so much ingredients in the market inspired by other cuisines, 2015 will be about fusions.

3. Chef Denny Antonio (Your Local)

We like keeping our Noche Buena pretty straight up in my house hold. We’ll be having quezo de bola, white cheese, honey baked ham and pan de sal. Since my and my sisters grew up in the States one dish that we always prepare is Roast Turkey with stuffing, cranberry sauce and all the trimmings.

Looking at current food trends I see that Asian cuisine in general is becoming popular world wide. Not any one specific Asian cuisine but an amalgamation of cuisines throughout Asia. I would like to see more use of fermented or pickled ingredients. Its a very old technique that is slowly seeing a resurgence with chef’s like David Chang of Momofuku evangelising “when rotten goes right”.

2. Chef Mats Loo (First Gourmet Academy, Kos)

A Swede like me need to have Swedish meatballs for Christmas.

I hope and think that people will be more interested about the origin of the food they are eating. This is already happening and will continue. People want to know where their vegetables were grown and how. Was the chicken they are going to eat raised in a proper way, without any steroids etc, and how was it killed. In short, people will care more about the food they are eating.

1. Chef Laudico  (Bistro Filipino, Guevarra’s, Chef Lau’s Pugon Roasters)


I would love to cook a Roasted Conchinillo served with Chorizo and Castanas Pandesal Stuffing. It will be our lechon dish.

I believe there would be more focus and interest in regional cuisine of each country like specialty dishes of a province or town done in a more cosmopolitan setting and approach. Also more farm-to-table movement but farms that are more localized and nearby or even urban farms like rooftop gardens and such.

I would love to see more varieties of fresh herbs, heirloom vegetables and fruits developed locally.

What are you having for Noche Buena? Share them in the comments section below!

8List Editor

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