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From PDuts to Nato Reyes: What tickles their taste buds

/ 05:15 AM August 19, 2018

A few weeks ago, we started Power Lunch with Margaux Salcedo, an online show for ManilaSpeak.com, aired on Youtube.

It’s an effort of mine to bring my two worlds together: food and politics. I realized that my friendships are so diverse: that the beliefs of my friends stretch politically from left to right, from activists to bureaucrats, from the administration to the opposition to the media; religion-wise from Muslims, Catholics, born-again Christians, Buddhists to atheists; even culturally, from art collectors to pop culture enthusiasts. If there was a dish to describe my friends, it would be halo-halo.

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But there is a common thread for all of them: They all love food.

So I thought, instead of eating alone when on food ventures, why not have a grand time sharing calories with my kick-ass friends in a setting that allows us to talk about current events while enjoying each others’ companies through delicious food?

Hence, Power Lunch was born.

And I have been on a roll discovering very interesting things about people I admire.

For example, I learned from Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat, one of the first persons I had a Power Lunch with, that President Duterte loves durian and doesn’t mind at all eating sardines.

Meanwhile, Berna herself does not eat any kind of seafood at all, even if she is constantly promoting all kinds of Filipino food. She is allergic. If she must eat fish, it has to be incredibly fresh.

Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno, with whom I had Power Lunch this week (that episode goes live on Sunday in ManilaSpeak.com), like the President, also loves Filipino food but pairs his kare-kare with a good merlot. That is, if he has a chance to eat—he hardly eats! He has been working so hard, he forgets to eat. Proof: Our Power Lunch was a very, very late lunch, at 5:00 p.m. (more like happy hour) and his last meal was breakfast at 6:00 a.m.

When he was younger, though, he and his fellow University of the Philippines (UP) professors would drive all the way to Batangas from the Diliman campus during lunch break just to have bulalo. “We would leave UP at 11:30 a.m. and be back by 2 p.m.,” he reminisced. “Kaya pala kayo matalino, mahilig kayo kumain ng utak (That is probably why you are all intelligent, you eat marrow),” I said.

Former Sen. Rene Saguisag, whose Power Lunch episode went live last Sunday, cannot eat a heavy dinner. He will go for just tapas and cheese or just pica pica. That is because he still goes dancing after. “I need it as my exercise!” he confides.

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Meanwhile, election expert and former Commission on Elections Commissioner Gregorio Larrazabal loves a mean steak. “Go big or go home, right?” he joked.

Renato Reyes Jr. of Bayan, whom I had the privilege of having a Power Lunch with before the President’s State of the Nation Address (and the House Speakership power grab), also loves a good steak. (Didn’t I tell you my friends range from right to left, from admin to opposition?) But more importantly, he also knows where to get a good sisig. He strongly recommended the sisig at Casa Marcos in Quezon City, which we fortunately caught on their last day before moving to Baguio. It was spicy and good!

The biggest revelation so far, however, has been that of luxury car distributor Willie Soong, president and CEO of Autostrada Motore, better known as the distributor of Ferrari and Maserati. Everybody knows him for his cars and that was how I knew him too, because I met him when he led 25 Ferrari owners to Baguio, driving their Ferraris, for the brand’s anniversary.

But I did not know—because I only met him last year at this event at the Manor in Camp John Hay (and also because I am so young—hahaha!)—that he also created Racks. Yes, that Racks with its famous fall-off-the-bone baby back ribs.

I found out at our Power Lunch that not only was he the owner but also the creator and “chef” of Racks. He personally developed the ribs recipe as well as each signature sauce.

Over our Power Lunch at James & Daughters of Chef Jonas Ng at the Fort, he shared he quietly celebrated the 25th anniversary of Racks with the original team just a few months ago, although he has already given the Philippine rights to the Prieto family.

He also shared the ups and downs of owning and managing a restaurant business before the turn of the century.

Funny enough, one of the highlights of his Racks days was when the Department of Tourism in 1994 asked him to host a lunch for all the Miss Universe contestants at the Malate branch. The sponsorship was worth it because after lunch, each of the contestants gave him a kiss. The last kiss of course was from his own Miss Universe—his wife.

This Power Lunch online show is so much fun for me, discovering the life story of each of the personalities, who are movers and shakers in their own ways, all making a difference in the country and in the world. Even if most of them are already my friends to begin with, the show gives me an opportunity to find out details about them I never knew.

It’s also even more fun because I insisted the third character must be the restaurant. We also get to know the chef or the restaurant’s signature dishes over our lunch.

My latest discovery is that chef Jonas, aside from cooking great Asian food, makes a mean langka ice cream. Try it at James & Daughters.

I hope, in time, Power Lunch becomes as much fun for the viewers, too. Please join us for lunch today. Visit manilaspeak.com or search Power Lunch with Margaux Salcedo to find the ManilaSpeak channel on Youtube.

Cheers!

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