Mr. Werner Berger, the tireless man behind specialty foods store Santi’s Delicatessen, has given the Philippines numerous European restaurants like Carpaccio Ristorante Italiano, I’m Angus Steak House, and Cave Werdenberg Wine Bar.
But it’s his Chesa Bianca Swiss Restaurant that takes center stage for its one-of-a-kind festival this month.
Chesa Bianca is celebrating its Melted Raclette Cheese Festival until the end of September and treating diners to an authentic European delicacy: ooey gooey Raclette cheese.
It’s the cheesy sensation that has swept New York City and a quick YouTube search will have you drooling for this semi-hard cheese made of pure cow’s milk. It is traditionally served over roasted potatoes, cornichon (gherkins or baby pickles), pearl onions, sautéed mushrooms, and toasted baguette.
The tangy cornichon and pearl onions naturally contrast the saltiness of the Raclette cheese, creating layers of flavors in your mouth, while the earthiness of the mushrooms brings out the creaminess of the melted cheese. And the potatoes? Well, we all know cheese and potatoes will always be a winning combination in any country.
Apart from the thoughtfully created traditional platter, Chesa Bianca’s new executive chef decided to give us more reasons to fall even more in love with Raclette.
Chef Thomas Heinrich began his path to culinary excellence at the age of 15, working at an Italian restaurant as a dishwasher after school in his hometown in Australia. Two years later, he started his culinary apprenticeship, having the opportunity to meet and work with top chefs in the Land Down Under. In 2000, he took a leap of faith and flew to New York to expand his gastronomic adventures. From there, he had the privilege of working with some of the best chefs in the US and managed to work his way to some of the best restaurants and hotels in North America.
Thanks to Chef Thomas’ culinary prowess, diners can choose between four variations of Raclette dishes – all served with the traditional Swiss Raclette sides of potatoes, pickles, onions, mushrooms, and toasted bread.
Platters of goodness
The Smoked Farmer’s Ham Raclette Platter features imported smoked farmer’s ham. The creamy melted cheese highlights the slight sweetness and smokiness of the ham. This platter is rustic, delicious, and ultimately comforting in its simplicity.
The Steak Raclette Platter features chunks of Australian sirloin steak, seasoned and grilled to perfection. Just when you thought high-grade steak couldn’t get any better, the Raclette takes it to a whole new level. It is seduction on a plate.
The Fried Chicken Raclette Platter is bound to be a crowd favorite. The chicken is covered with crispy, flavor-packed skin that gives way to moist and tender meat inside. The Raclette cheese keeps the chicken moist and its delicate flavors do not overpower the chicken. Filipinos definitely love their chicken fried to golden brown perfection, so this platter is a must-try.
The Prawn Raclette Platter is for seafood and cheese lovers. If you think prawns and cheese won’t work, think again! The prawns are grilled and mixed with garlic, which complements the saltiness and creaminess of the melted Raclette cheese. Think of your favorite garlic butter shrimp, but with lots of deliciously melted cheese.
When asked where he gets his inspiration, Chef Thomas told Expat, “With a product this good, you don’t need to overcomplicate things… We thought of things that would complement Raclette, but at the same time we want to make sure we do not lose the authentic Swiss flavors.”
The best of Switzerland is definitely here at this Swiss chalet in the middle of Makati. It’s like stepping into a winter cabin in the Alps with its log cabin design, wooden furniture, and Swiss decor.
Aside from the Raclette Cheese Festival, Chesa Bianca is also known for its various fondues and Swiss favorites like Zurcher Geschnetzeltes (veal in mushroom cream sauce, served with rosti potatoes) and Roschti Oberland (potato rosti topped with smoked ham, raclette cheese, and fried egg).
“We want to give diners a slice of Switzerland,” Chef Thomas said. “So we stay true to its flavors, we make sure the ingredients are authentic and we do not skimp.”
With Santi’s Delicatessen just next door, quality imported ingredients are available all day, every day.
The Melted Raclette Cheese Festival spreads to Santi’s Delicatessen with a special 50 percent discount on Raclette cheese slices, so you can take the goodness home.
Chesa Bianca Swiss Restaurant is located at Dining @ Yakal, 7431 Yakal Street, San Antonio Village, Makati. For inquiries and reservations, call (02) 815-1359
Text and photos by CHING DEE