Hearty heirloom fare


The Gonzalez family has always known good food all their lives. Celebrity chef Gene Gonzalez’s passion for good food is matched by his excellent culinary skills, and so his children grew up eating good food and both of them, Gino and Giannina, followed in his footsteps and became chefs, too.

Chef Gino Gonzalez, for one, turned out to be as passionate about gastronomic pursuits as his father. So, aside from taking over as executive chef of their family-owned Café Ysabel and serving as culinary director of the Center for Asian Culinary Studies (CACS), he opened his own Buenisimo, Taqueria, and Gino’s Gourmet. Married now to Chef China Cojuangco Gonzalez, with cute little Lucia for a daughter.

“When we celebrate events, we always go all out with the food. We usually have traditional family favorites, such as Lengua con Cetas, Menudo Sulipeña, and Lapu-Lapu au Gratin,” says Chef Gino.

Other dishes on the table of the Gonzalezes are cold lobster tossed in homemade mayonnaise, two to three types of ham, roast turkey with four or five kinds of stuffing served with cranberry and giblet gravy, and a lechon—for the Gonzalezes, no Filipino feast is complete without one. Sometimes, they also have prime rib to go with it. There’s also grilled prawns with lemon butter sauce, ensaymada, eggnog, and a variety of desserts from Chef Gino’s grandmother’s bakeshop called Pasteleria Mallorca.

“Call it food coma or food porn, but this is how we celebrate events and milestones,” Chef Gino adds.


Lengua con Cetas
Lengua con Cetas
  • 250g lengua (ox tongue), boiled until softened and cleaned
  • 1 ½ Tbsps all-purpose flour
  • 4 Tbsps butter
  • 2 tsp finely chopped onion
  • 100g button mushrooms, sliced into two
  • 1 cup lengua stock or chicken stock
  • 2 Tbsps mushroom water
  • 8 pcs green olives
  • 2 Tbsps olive juice
  • 1 tsp cream
  • 1 ½ Tbsps sherry or vino blanco
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 drops aromat seasoning
  • ½ tsp brandy
  1. Boil lengua in a pot of water, then throw away the water. Tenderize lengua by boiling again or cooking with a pressure cooker. Keep part of the lengua broth. Clean lengua thoroughly and set aside.
  2. Toast flour in a pan until light brown. Set aside.
  3. In another pan, sauté onions and mushrooms in butter. Mix in toasted flour. Add lengua, lengua stock, mushroom water, green olives, and olive juice. Add cream and sherry or vino blanco. Season with salt, pepper, and aromat seasoning.  Finish with the brandy. Serve.


Lapu-Lapu au Gratin
Lapu-Lapu au Gratin
  • 2 pcs lapu-lapu (grouper) fillet
  • 2 Tbsps olive oil
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp chopped onion
  • 20g red bell pepper, roasted and cut into strips
  • ½ cup of Pomodoro Sauce or tomato sauce
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 10g croutons
  • Parmesan cheese, grated
  1. Poach lapu-lapu fillets.
  2. Sauté garlic, onions, and red bell pepper in olive oil, then add Pomodoro or tomato sauce. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Arrange lapu-lapu fillets on plate. Pour the sauce over them and add croutons. Sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese.
  4. Torch top or broil in oven (use top heat instead of bottom heat setting in oven).
  5. Serve.

Photographs by Rafael R. Zulueta

This article originally on Asian Dragon Magazine’s November – December 2015 issue, available for download on Magzter.


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