Fired Up: Chef Luis Chikiamco 'En Fuego'
With a Degree in Culinary Arts & Hotel Management from l'Institut Paul Bocuse in Lyon, France and an apprenticeship in a three star Michelin Guide establishment in Lyon tucked under his 'toque', Discovery Primea's Executive Chef Luis Chikiamco has been creating 'kitchen magic' in Primea's F&B outlets such as Flame, Tapenade and Edge.
For a very recent special five-course dinner at Flame we were treated to Asian-inspired Continental dishes that had patrons searching for superlatives. The reason was simple; by giving these essentially Western dishes, tweaks and touches that were distinctly Asian, he managed the feat of offering courses that were both familiar, and yet surprised us. Rich in flavors, and marked by innovative fusing; I'm reluctant to call it Fusion, as that's such a by-now trite and overused description. Rather, there was something daring and unique transpiring.
To start, there was the Salmon Tartar; raw Salmon flavored with Avocado, Pickled Cucumber, Shichimi dressing, and Crispy Rice Cake. Served like sushi, it was the Crispy Rice Cake that made this so different from regular sushi.
The Foie Gras and Potatoes had generous slices of Black Truffle, Dashi-Clam Sauce and Shiitake Mushrooms, all mounted on a Potato Tortilla. Here, it was the Tortilla that was so inspired, giving the dish a new dimension.
The third course, Steamed Lobster, sat on a bed of Egg Noodles mixed with Stir-fried Vegetables and X.O. Sauce. From Japanese, to Spanish-Asian, and now Chinese-influenced, we were really cooking, and each dish had come with an element that turned it quite singular.
The Grilled Rib Eye was an eye-popping success as it came with Kimchi Rice, Mushrooms, Scallions, Carrots, and a Soy-Sesame glaze. If anything, I was ready to Surrender, as each course had come with some form of carbs - Crispy Rice, to Tortilla de Patatas, Noodles, and now Korean-inspired Kimchi Rice.
This was definitely no Degustation which turns into a 'No Me Gusta-cion' as one is still hungry. Here was a five course that was going beyond 'hitting the spot'. It was only the sight of the dessert, Chocolate, Chocolate, Chocolate, that had me living in denial, and thinking I wasn't full. Hazelnut Snow, Fresh Berry Coulis, Black Pepper ice cream, and Pop Rocks (yes, talk about flashbacks) all with a Chocolate Binge attached to it had me reeling and thinking, 'Hot Tea to melt the calories and fat away' --yeah, like who am I kidding besides myself.
So me and my dieting don't know whether to curse or beatify Chef Chikiamco, but I do know I won't be forgetting this Flame-ing Five Course Dinner anytime soon--it was that good!