For the first time ever since we got back to Manila, my husband and I left the house at night while the kids were still up. I actually bribed them with a new Hi-5 video to keep them entertained, and prayed to God that the yayas would be able to get them into bed without much of a fuss. It worked out okay (there was a bit of a fuss), but at least we were able to stay out for a decent amount of time. And it was all with good cause anyway.
Last night was Chateau 1771′s 25th anniversary. This group of restaurants has a very special place in my heart (and yes, in my tummy) because I grew up eating Chateau food. The dad of one of my best and long-time friends, Ricky Gutierrez owns the group, and he introduced us to its no borders cuisine at an early age. His partner Chef Vicky Pacheco has been feeding us all her yummy creations since the day they opened their first restaurant in Malate (now part of the “old” Manila). I remember the year; it was 1988 and we were in grade school. I remember feeling so grown-up eating at this really fancy restaurant with my other 10-year old friends, without our parents. Through the years as Tito Ricky saw us group up, he would always take us to dine there. We were invited to try out some new dishes and tell him what we thought about it. It was always good. Even on our own, we’d always go back for various occasions: to celebrate birthdays, to treat friends who were back from the States, or even just because we wanted to have some drinks and good old Coffee Pie!
We still do. When my friends and I get together, our default is to meet at of the 1771 restaurants — Chateau, Sentro, Sidebar, Winebar, or their most recent addition, Cafe 1771. The food never disappoints, and you know it is quality food because Tita Vicky invented these dishes herself. She and Tito Ricky spend a lot of time on food trips (literally), tasting, experimenting and determining what’s out there that they can bring to their concept restaurants. I had the privilege of chatting with Tita Vicky one time and I asked her how she came up with some of the Sentro dishes that we’ve come to love so much. Some were just an experiment because she didn’t want some leftovers to go to waste (and voila, look what they are now!). Others were derivatives of meals she’s had with family and friends all over the world. And so far she says, it has worked out pretty well. Over the years they’ve been able to build a whole base of regular and loyal customers that just keep coming back for more. I’d say that’s a testament to really good consistent quality food, wouldn’t you?
Last night at the Ayala Museum, the celebration was amongst close friends and loyal customers who have been with the group through its 25-year journey. As expected there were super delicious food stations, with cheese fondue, pasta and all sorts of carvings, representing the best of each of the restaurants. The baked scallops were one of my favorites too.
The dessert buffet was TO DIE FOR! I have been trying to control the intake of my sweets over the last few weeks and I tell you, I took one look at some of my favorite desserts all within reach and I forgot about my diet plan. It was all worth it though!
Then there was a Wine Bar and a “Side Bar”, both serving the kinds of drinks (wine and mixed cocktails respectively) that you’d find in each of the restaurants. I don’t know how many of each I tried. And in my alcoholic stupor, of course I forgot to take a photo! C’mon, how often do I get to go out and drink at night?
The evening was capped off by the launch of the Chateau 1771 Commemorative Book, put together in large part by Tito Ricky’s lovely daughters, Geli and Katrina and the one person who taught me how to write, my very own Tita Maya Jacinto. The book contains the history of Chateau, it’s food and the stories that got them all to what we see and taste now. Tito Ricky and Tita Vicky were the stars of the evening, signing books away! Copies of this book will soon be sold in the restaurants for those that would to take Chateau home with them. I got mine (but still need to get it signed!) and it already has its spot in our living room for guests to browse through when they come by.
Tito Ricky’s long-standing, half meant joke, is that I am (one of) his adopted daughters, since he’s practically seen me grow up (He’s known me for over twenty-five years and has been there during all the major milestones in my life). It is in fact in his dedication to me in my copy of the book. I am quite happy to be that. My husband and I love his family, and we love being a part of the 1771 family too. Last night was a meaningful milestone for me, and I’m glad we’re an integral part of this journey.
Congratulations to the 1771 Group of Restaurants and all the people who have carried it through to this day. I cannot wait for what’s to come in the next 25 (hundred!) years!