The Tasting Room chef goes after his own dream –

Chef William Mahi designed both the menu and the interiors for his solo venture, Kommune Kitchen + Drinkery. —Zara Nasibyan

If you have been wondering why chef William Mahi is no longer at The Tasting Room, that’s because he is no longer with City of Dreams—he has decided to pursue his own dreams.

For those who have not yet been acquainted with the French-Basque chef, William Mahi was the resident chef-artiste of the signature restaurant of Crown Towers. He was much lauded for his modern fine dining creations that showcased his French classical training and Basque passion for art on a plate.

When motivated, he was excellent. To this day, the memory of his foie gras lollipop and the 52-degree egg that he wowed audiences with when he arrived a few years ago remained strong.

He also held his own against guest chefs during “four hands” dinners including Mauro Colagreco of Mirazur, currently the sixth “best restaurant in the world” based on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants Awards; and Jung Sik Yim of restaurant Jung Sik, currently No. 10 in Asia.

Tired of the stiff fine dining scene, he has decided to venture out on his own to pursue a place “where chefs eat.” It’s not a bistro, he clarifies.

His wife Heather, who is in charge of marketing, calls their new concept “fun dining”.

Heather says the new venture will be very relaxed and hip. The extensive menu of 45 dishes will reflect chef William’s influences from the various countries he has lived in: Athens, where he was chef de cuisine of two Michelin-starred restaurant Spondi; Beirut; Shanghai; Luxembourg; as well as influences from his wife’s own country, Malaysia.

A sneak peek of the menu showed William’s Steak Tartare, homemade carbonara, duck rillettes and tarte tatin.

Promising to deliver on food quality in spite of a relaxed atmosphere, chef William shares he even had the rotisserie oven for his chicken imported from France. Let’s see how the French will try to beat Andok’s and inasal.

It will be a far cry from Tasting Room for sure although a fine dining extension is in the works. For now, let’s welcome the idea of being able to eat William Mahi food at accessible prices. (They have in mind that diners are not inclined to spend more than P1,200 on a date.)

Aside from the restaurant, Kommune Kitchen, there will also be a bar they call a “drinkery” upstairs; as well as a private dining space that will seat 10—perfect for Christmas barkada reunions.

The bad news is: Fans of William Mahi’s fine dining concoctions will have to wait a while before having those fancy dishes again. The good news is: He is now cooking uniquely William comfort food at The Fort.

Another destination to look forward to this Christmas!

Power of the pen goes to Cebu

Five years ago, Tetta Tirona, then an absolute stranger, asked me to give a talk at the The Power of Pen, a food writing forum workshop that aims to instruct both amateur and professional writers and culinary practitioners as to how they should utilize writing in their chosen fields of either exploration or expertise.

Tetta has since become a friend—that happens a lot in the food world—and I am so proud to see that Power of the Pen is now on its fifth year and has traveled to the Visayas.

Just yesterday, Power of the Pen held a one-day forum at University of San Carlos, Cebu, with no less than Inquirer’s Mickey Fenix, chef guru Myrna Segismundo and Food editor in chief Nana Ozaeta.

I hope this breeds more excellent food writers.

‘Panaderia’ as best book

Lastly, just a quick congratulations to Amy Uy and Jenny Orilloa as their book “Panaderia” just won Best Book on Food in this year’s National Book Awards by the National Book Development Board. Props also to their mentors Mickey Fenix, Felice Prudente Sta. Maria, Pie David and Jill Sandique.

Amy and Jenny were both winners at the Doreen Gamboa Fernandez Food Writing Awards.

May you continue to be shining examples of fine food writing inspired by (another Inquirer’s own) Doreen!

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