The Degree of Passionate Cooking
By Earl D.C. Bracamonte

In terms of cooking, there are only two ways of serving food: either steaming hot or deliciously cold! Hot dishes need to be served piping hot and cold dishes need to be served in the same state. Temperature is one of the major things to consider in food preparation and that is how the people behind nouvelle cuisine Celsius came up with its name.
“We serve international food. Classic cooking done with influences from all over the world, as we chefs are from all over the globe. I”m Sri Lankan and Chef Sean McSavaney is Canadian. Yet, there is no limitation to where we draw inspiration from as we cook everything with the same integrity and the same approach. So wherever the ingredient happens to come from in the world is not really important. The way we put it together and cook it is consistent with the standards we were trained with – which is classic French cooking. The sum of the parts is much, much different than when you look at the ingredients piece by piece. And the way it comes together is all of us, all Celsius,” declared Chef Manoj De Silva.
Classic French cooking is very evident in their meat dishes especially the steak courses like the Braised rib eye fingers that's slowly simmered in red wine then served over a cassoulet of chorizo and chick peas. Savor this red meat dish with fresh rolls or toasted bread slices dipped in cayenne-powdered chick peas spread.
“We want to serve fresh before frozen, buy local before imported and let our skills and knowledge do the talking. We consider our food to be kind of whimsical. It's not serious nor snobby. This was meant to be a place where you can have fun, where you can come with a group of people, try a couple of things, laugh, have some drinks. That was the mandate in coming up with the dishes here. We are not trying to blow anyone away with perfect plate architecture or something like that. It's just casual dining but that does not mean we did not put in a lot of work into every dish,” chef Manoj emphasized.
Seafood lovers would swoon over their fabulously prepared dishes like the Asian-style pesto prawns & scallops, an inviting plate of wok-seared tiger prawns and sea scallops marinated in Asian-style pesto served with pickled ginger butter sauce and ratatouille. Another crustacean must-try is the Sesame-coated prawns & lemongrass aioli, a generous serving of deep-fried sesame-coated prawns with pineapple carpaccio and mesclun greens dressed in sake-flavored dalandan vinaigrette. Or, should you have cravings for fish, go
for the Tapenade crusted Maya-Maya fillet served with vegetable papardelle in rich sauce of prawn essence. This seafood dish pairs well with chorizo fried rice. Yummy!
Even if the restaurant is casual dining,

still, one gets the feeling they're dining grandly because the dishes are all presented very well so it comes as fine dining. The F&B options show diners something new or the chefs prepare dishes that guests don't know of.
“We can make anything including dishes for people on a special diet like vegetarians. We created a high-end ambiance for a casual dining restaurant at the lower floor with 45 covers and a place where people can have a drink and relax after dinner at the upper floor for 50 more. If we use the entire place including the balcony, we can fit in 150 guests. We have an open, theater-type glass encased kitchen so our guests can see how we prepare food, we do not have anything to hide,” confessed the Sri Lankan national who once played professional football. He still does warm-ups on weekends at the rugby stadium No Man's in Paranaque, the only one in the entire country.
There's an al fresco area at the balcony of the 2nd floor lounge where you can unwind with friends; sipping an aperitif or smoothie. Try their Refresher drink, a thirst-quenching concoction of cucumber, mint syrup, calamansi juice and coco pandan jelly. If you want a fruity drink, I suggest the mango mix, a delightful meld of green and ripe mangoes with buco pandan jelly. Or, should you prefer something more citrusey, go for Pinewater, a blended smoothie of pineapple and watermelon with red grape jelly bits. Delish!
“We have been gathering the investors for the business for more than a year and we pretty much found everyone in ISCAHM. Leading the team in the kitchen is young chef Raphael Ongchiong. We wanted people who will be active in the business and not just ask about the money at the end of each month. We chose people who know their food and who are passionate about it. We are not cooking for any other reason other than we love to do it. And another thing, the entire kitchen is full of culinary graduates. They can carry out any idea really quickly and with relative ease. They are quick to catch on. They all invested in themselves to become chefs and they all want to be so that gives us a very active and motivated team. It is really the kitchen that separates this place from everything else. It is easy for us to talk one language in the kitchen; it is easy for everyone to understand each other. There is common ideology and everybody understands the standards that the team is looking for. We did not make the menu to sell and make money. We made it to create things that we would like to eat and at the same time exhibit our skills and talents,” enthused chef Manoj.
If you're the type who starts everything with soup, I recommend the simmered leg of chevron ghoulash that's garnished with Asian pesto and the delicious crunch of garlic croutons. It's the perfect meal opener!
Game for fowl? Sample their Chorizo & spinach stuffed chicken, a dish of seasoned chicken breast stuffed with chorizo bilbao, cream cheese and spinach served with wild mushroom cream sauce, cassoulet of vegetables and grilled red pepper coulis. Simply superb!
“We want people to choose food that they want to eat, we do not want them to choose based on what they would be going to spend. Select what you like and not with the prize 'coz there's a tendency for people to get the cheapest and don't get to eat what they really like. There is a psychology behind menu pricing. You can price things a certain way and position them on a menu in a certain manner to push what you want to move fast. We eliminated that because we want diners to read the menu and order based on what they want and not based on their budget. we want our dishes to compete with one another on a fair playing field,” apprised the well-travelled chef, who toured around some of the best food-stops in Europe and Asia prior to joining Celsius.
Never leave the restaurant without a happy ending! For dessert, go for their caramelized lemon tart, a home-baked sweet crust with creamy lemon filling that's dusted with caramel and served with a meringue stick. Just the right dose of sweetness that's not overly saccharine.
Celsius accepts reservations for exclusive parties, with the menu tailor-made to clients' requests. The 2-storey edifice is equipped with free Wi-Fi connection and they're open daily, except Mondays, from 11:30 AM to 2:30 in the afternoon for lunch and from 6 in the evening 'til 10:30 PM for dinner and until 2 AM at the upstairs lounge. Visit them at 67 Scout Rallos St. near the corner of Tomas Morato in Quezon City. For more information and/or reservations, simply call 332-6732 or email ccelsius@ymail.com.


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