Directed by Christina Zabat I Grooming by Byron Velasquez I Produced by Paolo Lorenzana
Considering how globally trend-conscious Manila’s dining realm has become, a young chef who knows his roots is a rarity. At 22, Joseph Galvez has worked the stoves at Michelin-starred kitchens in France. Still, the fanciest French restaurants couldn’t hold him back from his heritage.
While studying culinary arts at Enderun College, Joseph was part of the Kawali Kings, a group of students who took a breather from French technique to learn about and prepare Filipino cuisine. His passion for Pinoy food took him back to Manila last year, when the owners of Brooklyn-based Purple Yam sought him as head chef of their new Malate restaurant.
At owner Amy Besa’s ancestral home on Bocobo Street, Joseph works with Chef Romy Dorotan to highlight the best of our national cuisine. By obtaining ingredients straight from their provincial source, Purple Yam Malate supports cottage industries while serving up real Filipino flavors—and often with a clever spin.
In this BENCH BITES x BENCH MEETS special for B/TV, Joseph whips up a Pandesal Slider with Pork Mascara. With some pig face handy, the sandwich should make for some sophisticated merienda. If that still doesn’t satisfy you, B/BLOG’s got a short Q&A with the chef-wunderkind below.
How did you land the gig at Purple Yam Malate?
I’ve been working for the owners since college pa. I was part of a group of students who wanted to learn about Philippine cuisine. Most of our classes at Enderun were French-based, so we got together a small group and got into contact with Purple Yam’s Chef Romy Dorotan and Amy Besa.
What got you interested in Pinoy food in the first place?
We knew the French way of cooking but we don’t know our own, so we decided to explore it. Most of the good things we’ve tasted are in the province, where they’re obviously fresher. What we try to do here at Purple Yam is to bring those unique ingredients in.
This restaurant is more an advocacy to small-time businesses: mga artisan vinegar makers, small farms who are producing good-quality foods, natural farming suppliers. We stay away from commercial suppliers.
How often will the menu change?
It actually changes every week. We’re only only open on weekends: Friday night, Saturday night, and Sunday brunch.
Can you tell us about your experience in French kitchens?
That was between late 2012 and mid-2013. I worked at L’Oustau de Baumaniere and La Cabo D’Or—the first restaurant, a one-Michelin star restaurant and the second one, two-Michelin star. Para kang laging nag-jo-jogging sa kitchen. Kailangan laging tumatakbo.
So the French were extremely demanding?
At the start. But once you get to know them, they’re very good people.
What was the worst part of the job?
Intense cleaning, full of chemicals. Every inch of the kitchen, you have to clean. One of our chefs was kind of like a French Gordon Ramsay. You know why they do it, though. They focus so much on the food, so much on the detail. They really want everything to be perfect so they put pressure on you.
Was there an experience you had or dish you prepared over there that made you realize this is what you want to do for the rest of your life?
It’s not really a dish or recipe you learn. It’s more the whole experience of day-in, day-out doing one thing again and again and again until na-perfect mo siya.
What was extremely challenging to make in that regard?
In one of the restaurants, we were doing molecular gastronomy. So we were doing gelatins with spherification. We were trying to encapsulate sea urchin in gel. Day-in, day-out, you try different ways. It’s so small. The sphere was made with a broth of ginger and citrus, inside was apple juice with the sea urchin inside. Very meticulous yung restaurant na yun.
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