Kiss the Cook

Try as they might, this batch of good-looking men will not succeed in remaining inconspicuous. Heads turn wherever they go and word around town is they make a mean dish. A gender-swapped version of last year’s female chefs and foodies, Zee Lifestyle turns the spotlight on these attractive culinary hobbyists and the signature dishes they prepare to win over the ladies.

GEEV BAHRAMPOORI 

For Radisson Blu Hotel Cebu F&B manager, Geev Andre Bahrampoori, any post that brings him back to his first love, which is food, is a welcome move. His first internship was in the kitchen of the Romantik Hotel Stern in his hometown Chur, a boutique hotel famous for its 14 point “Gault-Millau” cuisine. In 2006, he moved to Thailand

to manage Mantra Restaurant and Bar in Pattaya and then moved on to become F&B Executive Assistant Manager at the Amari Coral Beach Resort and Spa in Phuket. Before relocating to the Philippines, he was part of the pre-opening team of Courtyard by Marriot in Bali. This wanderlust has caused him to love different food influences from various world cuisines. Thankfully he is residing at the hotel and enjoys the international fare Executive Chef Marco Amarone and his team prepares. He also highlights the homemade Chinese noodle soup of La Mien Chef Li Baojian. For dates on the other hand, he prefers to bring his fiancee, Indonesian model Kiyomi Juliana to the more private and intimate setting of his bachelors pad. He charms her with his boyish good looks and playful demeanor, and romances her with a simple yet effective menu of either Sydney rock oysters and champagne or Italian cold cuts with Swiss cheese on homemade bread and a bottle of Amarone.

How did you learn to cook?

I always helped out my mom in the kitchen when I was young. My family preferred fresh and homemade dishes. Food plays an important part in our family life and we combined Swiss and Persian cuisine.

What’s your favorite cuisine to make?

I mostly prepare dishes with Mediterranean influence.

What’s your favorite restaurant in the city?

I love dining at Anzani, for the cuisine, the service and the overall dining experience. They also offer a great selection of wines.

When do you cook?

I cook back home in Switzerland while staying with my family, or in Bali when I stay at the house of my fiancée.

Have you ever cooked to say sorry?

I’d be lying if I denied it.

What’s your secret ingredient?

I use regional herbs, spices and ingredients fresh from the market.

Any favorite kitchen tools/toys?

The Moulinex Mixer is a necessary kitchen tool to be able to prepare the best fruit and vegetable juices. I can’t have breakfast without my Swiss Nespresso machine.

How do stay fit and healthy?

I try to strike a balance between work and personal life. I go walking, hiking and swimming for exercise. I also try to make the effort to touch base with family and friends.

Toast Smoked Salmon with Eggs Benedict

60 grams smoked salmon
1 whole poached egg
20ml Hollandaise
whole wheat bagel

1 Crack the eggs into a ball, and then gently slide into a pan of simmering water and cook until the egg white has mostly solidified, but the yolk remains soft.

2 Add a small pat of butter or margarine to the container to prevent the egg sticking to its container. The ‘perfect’ poached egg has a runny yolk, with a hardening crust and no raw white remaining.

3 Place on top of toasted whole-wheat bagel. Drape the salmon slivers on top and add Hollandaise to taste.

MATT STRAIGHT

Anyone can see that Matt Straight takes his health seriously. You can tell from a mile away, what with the muscled arms and great posture. His rigorous workout routine demands an hour of spin class and another hour of weight lifting daily. He wasn’t always as fit and shares that as a child he battled obesity, “On my 19th birthday I had trouble getting into the jeans I bought three weeks before. I was so uncomfortable, I had used a safety pin

to secure it from popping open. I joined the gym the next day.” Born in England but raised in New Zealand, Matt finds himself in the Philippines developing a client base (he’s a personal trainer) and website catering to health and wellness. Practicing what he preaches, he cooks for more practical reasons, “I like to know what’s in my food. If you eat out, every meal is like playing Russian Roulette, you never know what you’re going to get and what’s in the meal. Most of the time restaurant food is loaded with extra oils salts and sugars.”

How did you learn to cook?

At 18, I left home and was forced to learn how to cook rather than eat instant noodles everyday. I collected cookbooks and just taught myself.

What’s your favorite cuisine to make?

I love the sharp fresh aromas of mint, basil, coriander and lemongrass of Thai food.

What’s your favorite restaurant in the city?

It depends on my mood but I’m loving La Maison Rose right now. At least once a week you will see me downing a plate of ribs at Mooon Cafe. Some of the best ribs I’ve tasted for just 220 pesos. Crazy!

Has cooking helped your love life?

Who doesn’t love a guy who can cook? So few guys actually cook for their dates these days. If she likes seafood, a seafood paella is always a winner. Then I break out a rich chocolate dessert with a zesty passion fruit topping which is bound to do the trick.

Honey Glazed Salmon Served on Sweet Potato MasH with Asian Greens

Serves two

Two 200 grams of salmon fillet
One and a half tsp honey
One tsp of fresh or dried rosemary
A sprinkle of salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste Garlic powder 

1 Boil sweet potato and squash for 15 minutes or until soft. Once cooked, drain the water and add the garlic powder, salt and pepper. Mash until semi smooth. Form the mixture into two circular patties and place in a frying pan coated with spray oil.

2 Heat up another frying pan with 1 tsp of butter.

Season the salmon with salt, pepper and rosemary and place in a hot frying pan skin side down.

3 Aftertwominutes,searthe pink exposed sides before completely flipping on to the large fleshy side. This will help keep the center of the fish moist. Once the salmon is cooked through, drizzle 3⁄4 tsp of honey over the fleshy side of the salmon and flip. Cook for approximately 30 seconds or until the honey has caramelized. Heat a wok or large frying pan. Add sesame oil, Asian greens, ginger and minced garlic. Cook on a high heat until veggies start to soften. Add the soy sauce and honey and cook for a further two minutes. Place Asian greens in a small bowl and sprinkle with a pinch of sesame seeds. Heat the sweet potato cakes for two minutes each side and plate. Place the salmon on the center of the cake.

MIKE CANCIO

Mike may just have the perfect slice of ham in his kitchen, and he will willingly let anyone take a bite of his stuff, just don’t ask for the recipe. His ninong and Filipino-Spanish crossover celebrity chef, Ed Quimzon handed it over to him and the top-secret recipe has even been awarded as one of the best ham recipes. Mike’s mom, Maricita Cancio and grandmother, Maricris Teves have cultivated in Mike the love of cooking, “Some of the greatest pleasures in life come from good food and love. Eating can affect people a lot more than just satisfying their taste buds.” With a naughty grin and a sparkle in his chinky eyes he reveals, “What most people don’t know is that food can enhance your love life.” This young entrepreneur with killer looks even has a trademark dish to win over the ladies- salpicao pizza. And what’s his secret ingredient? “Love,” he smirks.

What’s your favorite cuisine to make?

I would say Italian food for its quality, simplicity and healthiness.

What dish do you enjoy preparing?

I like preparing pizza because it’s a wholesome dish that brings everyone together. Its like painting on a blank canvas, the possibilities to making good pizza is practically endless. The whole ritual of making it gives such a calming effect.

When do you cook?

I cook whenever I can find the time. It’s a great outlet to calm your body and mind.

Have you ever cooked to say sorry?

Yes, that always works!

Any favorite kitchen tools/toys?

My brick oven and an eight-inch chef’s knife

Spaghetti al Pomodoro e Basilico

500 grams pasta
5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 tbsp thinly sliced garlic
1 kg fresh ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded and thinly sliced 4 tbsp basil torn by hand
Salt to taste

1 Put a tablespoon of olive oil and all the garlic in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat and cook until the garlic begins to sizzle.

2 Add the tomatoes as soon as you see the garlic begin to change color. If using fresh tomatoes, you’ll notice they give off a fair amount of liquid. When the liquid begins to reduce, season with salt. Continue cooking until the tomatoes have reduced and separated from the oil after about around 10-20 minutes. While the sauce is reducing, cook pasta in a deep pot.

3 When sauce has reduced, add the basil leaves and a pinch of crushed chilies (optional). Cook for one-two minutes then remove from the heat and set aside. When pasta is cooked al dente, drain and toss using the sauce pan, adding the remaining table spoon of olive oil.

JOVIE UNCHUAN

It’s fitting that Jovie Unchuan, together with his business partner Margette Sarmiento, acquired David’s Restaurant this year because he is all about fuss-free unadulterated good food. David’s has been the go-to place for high-quality steak in Cebu for more than a decade now. “I don’t really cook, I grill. It’s the easiest way to have a great simple dinner.” He got into grilling everything from pork chops, lamb and steak when he lived in the States. On weekends when his kids are with him or when friends come over to his house, Jovie plays the part of Grill Master. And his showpiece? 250 grams of two-inch thick Kitayama Wagyu Ribeye steak from Bukidnon. In his arsenal are his grilling tools from Williams Sonoma and a digital meat thermometer. If not at the beach, at work or at home, you can find this tall and tanned restaurateur in the site of his new brainchild, David’s Kitchen. Located in IT Park, it will offer affordable set menus that give diners value for money.
What’s your all time favorite dish?

I like steaks! That’s what I love to eat, and that is what I grill. Recently, I discovered Kitayama Wagyu from Bukidnon, and now that’s my steak of choice.

What’s your favorite restaurant in the city?

David’s, of course!

Has cooking helped my love life?

My home grilled steaks has impressed my girlfriend but Its always paired with a bottle of good wine. I really don’t know if it’s the steaks or the wine.

What would you prepare for her on a date?

She is also an excellent cook, so the kitchen is her territory; I’m relegated to the grill and nothing else but the grill.

What’s your secret ingredient?

My secret ingredient, I would have to say is wine. A good bottle of wine just makes a good dinner great.

How do stay fit and healthy?

I eat a lot of fruits.

Grilled Kitayama Wagyu Ribeye

2 inch thick and 250 grams Kitayama Wagyu Ribeye
A good bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon Salt and pepper
Olive oil 

1 Place the two inch steak in the refrigerator overnight. An hour before cooking, pat the meat dry with kitchen paper towel, season with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil. Let it sit.

2 Heat up the grill with charcoal once really hot, place the steak on the grill five minutes on each side only turning it over once. This will achieve the perfect medium rare.

  • photography Jan Gonzales
  • grooming Gari Son
Zee Lifestyle
Zee Lifestyle

Zee Lifestyle strives to capture the pulse of Cebu! As a city-centric lifestyle magazine, it aims to inform and entertain with features on culture, personalities, travel, food, fashion and everything in between. Follow Zee Lifestyle on Instagram at @zeelifestyle.

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