A story behind the flavors

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Friday, March 28, 2014


ANY restaurant can serve meals in a nice ambiance, but not all can offer a story behind it as interesting as the flavors in its food.

Tucked in a side street in Mabolo is Cafe de Geneve, a recently-opened restaurant that offers Swiss and international cuisine, and an interesting story on the side.

Chef and restaurant owner Windy Gancayco was born in Baguio, but has lived everywhere: Manila, Paris, Hong Kong, and in New York City to work at the United Nations.

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She also worked at the World Health Organization in Geneva, Switzerland, where she met her husband Seb Gygli. They decided they wanted to try living in the Philippines with their daughter. Finding Cebu to be the best choice, they moved here almost a year ago.

Things are certainly different from Geneva, but they are loving the beautiful beaches and friendly people.

With her previous jobs, Windy was always surrounded by paperwork, but said, “I’m happier in the kitchen than behind a desk.” In 2010, she took a culinary course in Marseilles then did some internships, but knew that she wanted to open a place of her own. She thought Cebu would be a great place, and so opened Cafe de Geneve in November 2013.

A Swiss restaurant must definitely have cheese, and it’s the bestseller here at Cafe de Geneve. The raclette is served with potatoes; and the fondue of gruyere and vacherin; and a little white wine is eaten with bread cubes. Both are fun interactive experiences that are best enjoyed with friends and conversation. The cheese dishes pair wonderfully with prosciutto and some wine. Seb, who tried his hand at bar tending in Geneva, serves up his own specialty cocktails that take advantage of the variety of fresh fruit available.

As they’re trying to see what customers really like, the menu changes every few days. The food the restaurant offers is much like its namesake city: Swiss but very international at the same time, with different kinds of international cuisine available. Windy and Seb have noticed that about half the clientele are Europeans who are happy to have something from home, and the other half are Cebuanos who are looking to try something new.

Aside from the cheese, patrons love the quinoa salad, meatballs, twin croque monsieur made with French butter, and dessert. Windy cooks everything herself, with Seb in charge of the cheese dishes and cocktails, and both of them sharing other duties that come with running a restaurant.

Even if the food might be new to some, there’s no uptight or daunting feeling here. It’s comfort food in a comfortable place, which can seat up to only 25 people at a time.

Cafe de Geneve is located on Cong. Noel Street in Mabolo. It is open for lunch from Tuesday to Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., and for dinner from Monday to Saturday from 5:30 p.m. onwards.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 29, 2014.

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