Bohol is one of the most visited destinations in the country because of its diversity and breathtaking spots: The famous Chocolate Hills, pristine beaches, marvelous diving spots where one can experience the magical sardine run, the famous tarsiers, the historical churches, among others.

However, aside from these destinations, Bohol is also rich with natural resources especially for the culinary department. This is what molecular gastronomy chef Jenzel Fontilla, founder of BE Grand Resort Bohol’s The Monkey Bar by Chef Jenzel Fontilla, wants to highlight.

Chef Jenzel, who has been in the industry for eight years, came to Bohol for a vacation from Abu Dhabi (where he worked as a chef) with the goal of free diving. Then, the nationwide lockdown happened due to the pandemic, which led Chef Jenzel opening his resto bar in partnership with BE Grand Bohol.

During the lockdown, he was able to discover a lot of extraordinary things about Bohol including its rich natural resources that are best for food ingredients like Ubay’s cheese, Bohol’s asin tibuok or known as “dragon’s egg,” fresh seafood and meat, microgreens, herbs and spices.

As an award-winning molecular gastronomy chef who advocates for sustainable cooking, Chef Jenz, 27, came up with a delectable food menu that are all made from scratch using locally sourced ingredients and cooked in a Santa Maria grill or locally known as “abuhan.” This will be served at The Monkey Bar by Chef Jenzel Fontilla starting Aug. 8.

Nestled on the beachside of BE Grand Resort, Bohol, The Monkey Bar by Chef Jenzel Fontilla does not only fill one’s appetite and treat one’s taste buds but also treats all senses. Guests can witness how the food and drinks are being prepared at the open-kitchen, and bar; smell the aroma of each food being prepared; hear the happenings in the kitchen and the soothing sound of the waves; and feel the whimsical yet chill ambiance of the place.

Another highlight at The Monkey Bar by Chef Jenzel Fonilla is its exhibition of rediscovering the old and transforming it into something new. It features an open-kitchen with a Santa Maria kitchen concept and is the only food outlet from a luxury resort in Panglao, Bohol to utilize an “abuhan.” From its traditional kitchen setup, the resto bar plays with fire to satisfy its guests, not only with its cravings but most importantly its imagination for something new through its distinctive menu and its smoky flavors.

Currently, its menu is all smoked and grilled to perfection on its signature “abuhan,” from the appetizer, main course to desserts.

“I like to play with fire. And, you know, us Filipinos, it has been a tradition to serve barbecue whenever we’re at the beach with family and friends, and I’d like to bring that concept here. We serve all kinds of grilled food,” Chef Jenz explained as to why and how he chose to serve this kind of menu.

A day at the beach won’t be complete without drinks. For its drink offerings, Chef Jenz showcases local craft beers made in Bohol, and interactive cocktail drinks made of locally-produced liquor and locally-grown fruits, herbs and spices as garnish, where you can play and pretend that you concoct your own drinks.

As an advocate of sustainability, Chef Jenz did not only make his recipe, and create his menu for his resto bar, but he was also the mastermind behind the design of the place: Nature-inspired where living creatures would love to stay. He, together with his team, played around with the natural landscape of the place, added some rattan pendant lights, handcrafted tables and chairs created by homegrown artisans using local products, and monkey figurines all over the place.

“Some of our plates are made using extra materials from the platform,” he happily shared.

As for the name, The Monkey Bar, Chef Jenz was inspired by one of his trips where he met a monkey who was elated to eat the banana he handed.

“I was cheered up to see the monkey who happily indulged in the banana, right in front of me, without fear of being judged. And that’s what I aim for in this resto bar. Though we’re at a luxury resort, I want people to eat and drink sumptuously like they do when they’re at home because what’s the purpose of eating out when you’re too shy to enjoy it?”

The Monkey Bar by Chef Jenzel Fontilla is publicly accessible in BE Grand Resort, Bohol and is open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.