How Chef Margarita Forés Hosted An Intimate Dinner For U2's Bono, The Edge, And Other Guests
"It became a real blessing for us," says Chef Margarita of the unexpected opportunity to cook for the members of the Irish rock band
As the story goes, U2 landed in Manila on December 9 at 8 p.m. By 8:45, they were comfortably seated at a table in Chef Margarita Forés' Grace Park, a cozy dining destination in Makati beloved for its Italian-Filipino flavors (Negrense, in particular).
The once in a lifetime opportunity to host the band's members came in the form of a subtly made request from a friend whom Chef Margarita hadn't seen in such a long time. She tells Metro.Style, "I made lunch for this old friend and while we were having lunch, I had a lechon roasted for him because I haven’t seen him in a long time. After he had had a few of my dishes, he said, 'Would you do this for a couple of my friends tonight?'
Not knowing who she was going to host yet, she had initially turned down the chance to feed one of the best bands in rock history because of a prior commitment—until her staff had convinced her otherwise, even though it meant giving up their Christmas party to whip up a feast for their VVIP guests
"And of course, my team at Grace Park overheard the conversation and they all came up to me and said, 'Ma’am, we’ll work. We’ll do this. We don’t need to go to the Christmas party. We want to do this for you, and we want to be able to host him.' It became a real blessing for us," reveals Margarita with a warm smile.
The "friends" of her friend turned out to be Bono and his band mates, at which point Chef Margarita had been convinced to change her evening's plans to make room for them.
The restaurant was closed for the day, because of the company Christmas party, but it later became a private dining area for the Irish rock stars with just a single table all for themselves.
The last-minute dinner menu included lechon, diwal clam pasta, squash flowers wrapped in prosciutto, some American steaks, simple veggies, lovely Italian wine, avocado pie, and cassava cake—a dinner cooked with lots of heart that Bono himself described as deliciously mind-blowing.
In the course of their meal, they did learn about the Christmas party sacrificed by the team to accommodate them, and so U2 gave back, in their own little way as a way to say thank you.
"My old friend told him the story that when they did come for lunch, they saw our team practicing for their dance number for the Christmas party. And so, his friend told him, 'They didn’t dance their number because of you. [Bono] said, 'Well, we need to sing them a song.' So he and The Edge sang Merry Christmas, and it was really meant for the staff. That was such a heartwarming thing," she recalls.
Chef Margarita, on the other hand, got more than just a jingle; Bono had asked her for a dance!
"When he got up to go, he did call me and he gave me a hug and thanked me and said, 'Shall we dance?' Just a bit of a twirl," she laughs.
There to enjoy the memorable meal with Chef Margarita were her family: her two sisters, her son, her nephew, and other close friends.
Next to her, her nephew Alfonso, a young musician, might have had the most fun that evening.
"He had a long chat with The Edge, and Edge really enjoyed chatting with him, I guess. Because Edge asked him, 'Can you let me hear your music?'... Alfonso was so blown away that he actually let Edge listen to his music, and I think that will stay with him forever," she shares.
By the time everyone had called it a night, there was one and only one impression left with everyone fortunate enough to have met the world-famous band: "They were so nice. They were very relaxed, unassuming, simple—just really warm and super friendly," Chef Margarita says.
She also remembered to acknowledge the real hero of the evening: her son, whose power of convincing his mom take up the dinner challenge gave way to an encounter that would have otherwise never happened.
"He’s very happy that this all happened. I’m glad he prevailed on me and made sure I did it. Sometimes it's good to listen to your children," Chef Margarita ends with a laugh.
U2 performed a two-hour set list at the Philippine Arena in Bulacan on December 11. It was the first time the rock band held a concert in the Philippines.
Photos courtesy of Chef Margarita Forés