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Chefs Boutwood and Le Roux do interesting collaboration

Unique chocolate experience at Solaire

Solaire gave me the opportunity to attend a sneak-peek dinner at Finestra. This event set for November 30 and December 1 at Solaire Resort and Casino will be a collaboration between Auro Chocolate and Solaire featuring two of the country’s foremost chefs as part of its Culinary Masters Series. Collaborating for the first time are Hylton Le Roux, Solaire’s executive sous chef, and Josh Boutwood, the renowned chef of The Bistro Group, The Test Kitchen. The Culinary Masters Series is Solaire’s way of bringing world-class chefs to the hotel’s select clientele in a special event.

The two will collaborate with Auro Chocolate to create a six-course menu that promises to be a memorable experience. All othe dishes we sampled had the Auro chocolate, and what was extraordinary was that they were not “chocolatey” sweet. Each course was paired with exceptional wine.

Boutwood explained to TheDiarist.ph this special collaboration: “I personally strive to help the guests create memories. We are in a business that is known to create sustenance. At the end of the day, our mission is also to create memories and experiences for guests. We want to help create a memory or experience that the guest will never forget.”

Boutwood said that when creating the dishes, he wanted them seemingly simple, yet a feat to execute at an event, outside of their regular kitchen.

Le Roux explained, “I wanted to show people that chocolate is not just dessert, right? It’s not just a chocolate cake or chocolate sauce. I tried to incorporate many different elements of the cocoa and the cocoa process. The cocoa butter, the fruit of the cocoa pod, the dark chocolate, sweet chocolate…”

Both chefs spoke highly of each other when asked about their collaborative process on the menu. “I’m happy to report that cooking with Hylton has been a wonderful jive,” Boutwood said.

Each of the chef’s unique touch was evident in the collaboration. Chocolate was used in an innovative manner, definitely not traditional, in our tasting menu.

Solaire Four Hands Media Dinner – Oyster with horseradish and cucumber

The first dish looked simple and you wondered where the chocolate was— according to Boutwood, the raw oyster had horseradish, cucumber, and cocoa oil. It was a great start, the freshness of the oyster enhanced with the addition of cocoa oil.

Solaire Four Hands Dinner – Chocolate Disk Ravioli

Chocolate was more evident in the second appetizer— Le Roux’s experiment with the Italian ravioli using chocolate disk instead of pasta. Subverting our early expectations, his dish was both salty and bitter, the chocolate leaving that sweet taste.

Solaire Four Hands Media Dinner – Adlai Porridge

What followed was Boutwood’s traditional Filipino chocolate dish reminiscent of good old champorado. Instead of glutinous rice he used adlai. We relished the crunchy, salty pieces of dried fish with the adlai. It was a symphony of textures—a champorado that summoned your memory of childhood.

Following this was Le Roux’s miso poached sea bass with cocoa butter. He manifested his love for the Philippines and Filipino ingredients by whipping up a wonderful gabi purée, which he said didn’t look pretty so it was put underneath the miso. The saltiness of the miso was complemented by the richness of cocoa butter, with the gabi adding the sweetness.

Then came the dry-aged duck breast with Jerusalem artichoke, its sauce made of chocolate specially provided for this event. The duck meat was akin to a tender steak, the sauce’s twin sweet-sour taste enhancing the duck’s natural flavor.

Solaire Four Hands Media Dinner – Cocoa Powder Aged Short Rib

Le Roux’s finale was cocoa powder-aged short rib with almond purée, bugnay jam, and smoked in cocoa tree husks—so truly Filipino. The beef dish was a melange of sour, sweet, bitter and smokey tastes, the tenderness of the beef truly unforgettable. Its taste lingers in my memory as I write this.

The desserts were from Solaire’s patisserie, capping the unforgettable experience.

To me, the experience was something out of this world. Bearing the “deceptively simple” flavors, the dishes were well curated, distinct yet harmonious as a whole—a testimony to the talent, expertise and collaborative skills of each chef.

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