by Primrose Madayag Knazan
Jeremy Senaris soared to popularity after winning second place in the reality television show MasterChef Canada. Inspired by his mother, Jeremy elevated everyday Filipino and Asian food throughout the popular cooking competition. Jeremy’s family had taught him how to cook and after his mother had passed away from cancer he became passionate about replicating her dishes.
On July 17, 2016, the monthly series of pop-up restaurants Baon Manila Nights featured Jeremy Senaris as the guest chef for their one-year anniversary. All of the dishes he presented were based on food his mother used to prepare.
Jeremy was no stranger to Manila Nights, having presented the first course at the June instalment. However, with 135 guests, this month’s seven course meal was the first time that Jeremy was the head chef for a such as large event.
With a day-job as a building plan examiner, Jeremy admitted he faced several challenges for his first pop-up dinner such as planning the menu, deciding how much food to buy, and portioning for each person. This was also the first time that Jeremy cooked in a commercial establishment, taking place at The Merchant Kitchen.
Jeremy says that he had great support to help him out, including Baon Manila Nights’ founder, Chef Allan Pineda. “I had a good team, all in the restaurant industry.” Jeremy admitted. “They’re the ones who taught me the ways of the kitchen.”
Although he struggled with plating and presentation on MasterChef Canada, his skills improved throughout the competition, showcased in each of the beautiful dishes presented at Baon Manila Nights.
The first course was a play on Arroz Caldo with an artful black squid ink risotto topped with a charred garlic shrimp. The result was a lovely garlic flavour that carried hints of the sea.
The second course consisted of a savoury cocktail called the Manila Minchelada with a tomato juice base, tequila, lime and a salted spiced rim with subtle hints of tamarind.
The third course was a take on Agedashi tofu. The topping of Benito flakes mesmerized the guests as they moved with the heat of the dish. The coconut onion vinaigrette was assertive against the fried tofu and cut the heartiness of the pulled pork. The crispness of the tofu breading and bits of chicharon provided a crunchy texture.
The fourth course was a chicken wonton sopas with meaty wontons, a delicate chicken broth with diced vegetables that reminded me of my own mother’s chicken soup. Crumbled fried chicken skin sprinkled on top provided a contrasting crunch.
The fifth course was prepared by Chef Claire Snowball, two-time Iron Chef Winnipeg. She presented a refreshing mango granita with a chia seed float and mint chiffonade, a perfect palate cleanser.
The sixth course was magnificently plated Escarbache Fish and Chips using seared Arctic Char and lotus root chips, served with julienned vegetables. The sweet sour sauce had a wonderful tartness that heightened the flavour of the fish.
The final dessert course was an ode to Champorado. A quenelle of mild chocolate ice cream was presented astride puffed purple rice, whipped cream and topped with candied bacon to provide the salty element.
The success of the July 17th dinner is only the beginning for Jeremy Senaris, an up and coming talent in the Winnipeg culinary scene. Jeremy hopes in the future to present more pop-up dinners on a smaller scale with a focus on more intricate dishes. However his biggest upcoming project is expecting his first child, due in January 2017. Congratulations, Jeremy!
Baon Manila Nights is a monthly series of pop-up restaurants showcasing guests chefs and their takes on Filipino cuisine. The next dinner will take place August 27th with guest chef Pamela Kirkpatrick from Cake-o-logy. For more details, check out Baon Manila Nights on Facebook or ManilaNights204 on Instagram and Twitter.
Photo by Mike Talastas.