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Sunday, June 15, 2014
It’s a busy Tuesday at the restaurant and while garbed in his immaculate white suit, chef Frederic executes his daily grind of “executive chef duties” at the Radisson Blu Hotel. With only a Sunday off locked for leisure, the hands-on chef is tied to the kitchen for the rest of the week. Despite the schedule, he managed to sneak himself in at lunch and told stories about food, wet markets and goat cheese.
The French-Canadian bachelor who has traveled the globe with an established culinary portfolio of over 28 years corners you at your seat with gastronomic observations especially on the Philippine food scene.
Chef Frederic’s cooking stint began at his father’s restaurant in Quebec, Canada, where he was born. He was 12 years old then while Renaud Cyr was already a landmark chef, being the pioneer of the popular farm-to-table cooking in Canada. The young Frederic learned from the
senior Cyr and eventually was inspired to carve a niche in the culinary circuit.
Equipped with an education developed by international standards, Frederic polished his expertise by working in international, posh cruise ships and five star hotels. To name a few in his resume are La Compagnie Du Ponant, L’Austral, Orion Expedition Cruise, Silver Wind of Silver Sea Cruise, Spa Eastman, Thomas Henkelmann, Hilton Worldwide and Sofitel in Motreal and Manila.
Joining a month ago, he’s now settled down south as the latest addition to the renowned, young and dynamic culinary team of Cebu’s leading business hotel.
With the opportunity given to him on board, Frederick is confident of his infectious enthusiasm and kitchen alchemy in front lining the many projects proposed for Radisson’s Feria Restaurant.
“I envision a burst of flavors and new offerings to include Feria Studio where diners can take out items from our fare like cakes, pastries and our famous homemade ice cream,” he beamed.
Frederic is making sure he moves according to timetable especially in the next couple of days as he will be flying to Canada to shoot for a television show for three weeks.
For him, working in the Philippines is no different from other countries. Being employed internationally for years, he knows how it’s like to be dealing with foreigners. But to him, Filipinos might be deemed as exceptions considering their assorted influences, better communication skills and flexible personalities. These are attributes Frederic admires as comforting. Also, hailing from the countryside himself, he finds the environments of his hometown and Cebu more or less similar.
“The Philippines is in the middle of the road; a huge country with plenty of small islands with different cultures. One needs to travel the country slowly to know it. With this diversity, the Filipino cuisine is a cuisine to share—a fusion of kitchens, complicated, cultural, deep,” said Frederic, lauding the Philippines as a “foodish” nation—a distant yet interesting concept he described as non-existent in other parts of the world.
A fan of spicy flavors, Bicol express, sisig and sinigang among other local renditions, Frederic is fascinated by the street food culture in the country as well as the presence of wet markets around. How he giggles over a round of goat cheese wrapped in banana leaf! Actually, anywhere he goes, he checks out the fresh produce of local markets.
“It’s more fun in the market. It’s where you get the desire to do best,” he said, which sounded more of an encouragement to go fresh.
It takes a lot of effort to know someone. But sometimes, it’s easy if you get to a person through the stomach. And that’s how chef Frederic does it.
He’s becoming familiar with the Philippines through food. Well, who else knows best about food but a chef.
“Food links people,” he quipped.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on June 16, 2014.