UK Chefs & Bartenders Took Over Lampara and Drinks at OTO
Manila/ Delish/ Reviews

Dos Chefs x Tres Papas Takeover Was All About Don Papa

Guests at OTO got to experience a one night only special menu curated by award winning mixologists from the UK Photo by Don Papa Rum

Every island in the Philippines boasts a unique identity. While this makes it impossible to pin down a singular description of the country, it also means you’ll never get bored. Even the islands are ever-changing — the once party hub, Boracay Island, has now dialed back to a more tranquil destination, something closer to its roots but still retaining its modern fixtures.

Metro Manila, the nation’s capital, is home to several urban jungles that have formed their own modern ecosystems and cultures. Going back to the gems of Visayas, one of them is Negros Island, an underrated treasure trove that houses the highest peak in the region: Mt. Kanlaon.

Mt. Kanlaon itself shelters an unexpected gift: Don Papa Rum. In its fertile foothills, the premium, single-island rum is created from the finest sugar cane. Filipino in every sense, its name, especially, is pulled from history that goes all the way back to the late 19th-century revolution. The rum was named after Papa Isio, an important figure that helped liberate Negros from Spanish rule. Don Papa Rum perfectly captures his bravado and courageous spirit — and yours too, if you’re just as brave to take on a bottle of Don Papa.

Still, the Filipino spirit is not just pure fire. It’s also about making guests feel welcome, which, in this case, is underlined by the rum’s notes of vanilla, honey, and candied fruits. It’s a shock, maybe even confusing, but alas, the Filipinos are all about Cariño Brutal. True enough, Don Papa Rum’s dinner tasting at Lampara in Makati City last April 13, was a love letter to the Philippines that captured this very essence.

Chefs Andrew Clarke and Budgie Montoya
Don Papa Rum

Dubbed the Dos Chefs & Tres Papas Takeover, the private dinner was expertly crafted by award-winning Chefs Andrew Clarke (Acme Fire Cult) and Ferdinand “Budgie” Montoya (Apoy and Sarap UK). Both hailing from the United Kingdom (UK), the chefs along with other esteemed chefs and bartenders were invited to the Philippines to immerse themselves in the culture by traveling to the Negros Island and Metro Manila.

“[This dinner] is a nod, or an ode, to Filipino cooking [mixed] with a British or European flair. Coming here has been interesting for me because I want to utilize the amazing produce that we came across in the market and we had the chance to eat at some amazing places in the last week. I wanted to use that as an inspiration,” Montoya said.

Montoya was born in the Philippines but as his family moved to Sydney when he was five years old, he grew up in Australia. When he moved to UK, he flipped his life upside down and left the IT industry, eventually opening two restaurants — Apoy and Sarap.

Chefs Andrew Clarke and Budgie Montoya
Don Papa Rum

Clarke, the other star chef of the evening, has been in the UK food scene for nearly three decades. His work earned him the “Maverick of the Year” award at the London Restaurant Festival in 2017 and the Craft Guild of Chef’s Innovation Award two years later. Clarke was also dubbed one of the most influential Londoners of 2019/2020.

He is known mostly for cooking over fire — something every Filipino can relate to. What have we not tried to grill, right? Also inspired by local produce, Clarke paid homage to resident Farmer's Market vendors and pulled influences from not just their journey in the Philippines, but other cuisines as well.

“The Philippines already has many of the culinary influences that inspire my cooking, from Chinese, Spanish, and Mexican,” Clarke said, adding that the salsa macha in the main course is a nod to the Galleon Trade — a trade route between Acapulco, Mexico to Manila, Philippines that lasted for nearly four centuries.

Don Papa Rum cocktail

As you would expect for a Saturday night, the evening kicked off with cocktails. Three custom cocktails were available, each using Don Papa Rum in various interesting ways. One cocktail, Ok! Don P, combined the rum with sampaloc (tamarind), calamansi, and soda water whilst the glass was garnished with ancho chile on the rim. While the drink itself was light and refreshing, the dried chili on the glass packed a punch that served as a wake-up call for the guests — and so the party began!

Lapu Lapu with suahe mousse wrapped in mustasa leaf on gata
Don Papa Rum

Starters, created by Montoya, were then served: Lapu-Lapu fillets with suahe (shrimp) mousse wrapped in a mustasa (mustard greens) leaf over a bed of spicy gata (coconut milk) sauce. The tender fish instantly melted in the mouth as the buttery suahe mousse elevated the simple fish to pure, almost sinful, decadence. Paired with the slightly bitter mustasa leaf and spicy gata sauce, however, the starter became memorable. As the spice cut through the creaminess, the dish evolved into a familiar flavor that warms and stings at the same time.

Don Papa Rum cocktail

Another cocktail, the Donhattan (using cacao-infused Don Papa Rum, Cynar, sweet vermouth, and Angostura bitters) kept the ball rolling as the evening progressed. This one, we admit, was a challenge. Its cacao flavor would lure you in (chocolate, you say?) then the rum burns you as a reminder that rum is not for the lighthearted.

Pork with clams and cauliflower dish
Don Papa Rum

At this point, we all agreed — it was time for the Main Course. Crafted by Clarke, the highlight was the sizable cuts of roast pork glazed with a tare of soy sauce, pork stock, and Don Papa Rum. It was served with some clams, and fragrant chili oil with ginger and lemongrass. Plus, a tamarind and prune ketchup. In a separate bowl, cauliflower done three ways: caramelized puree, roasted florets, and raw; mixed with salsa macha. These were paired with char-grilled Napa cabbage dressed with some longganisa vinaigrette with capers and herbs. Oh, and rice, of course.

“I’ve been told you cannot serve a Filipino meal without rice, so here it is. The rice is the dish; everything else is the accouterment,” Clarke quipped during his speech.

While the pork was perfectly done and matched well either with the tamarind sauce or the cauliflower mix, we wouldn’t connect the dish with any of the Filipino cuisine usuals. Rather, the surf-and-turf was a delicate balance of familiar produce and European technique. Upon tasting, the dish perfectly encapsulated Clarke’s culinary influences that stem not just from the Philippines, but also from China and Mexico.

The side of cabbage and longganisa vinaigrette was a nice break from the generous slice of protein, an ode perhaps to the typical Filipino pairing of a protein with vegetables. And who could forget the fragrant and perfectly cooked rice? As simple as it is, rice just simply rounds out a Filipino meal. That’s a stereotype we’re glad to perpetuate.

Sugarlandia Sign
Don Papa Rum

As we waited for the last course to arrive, another cocktail made its way to our table, the Papa Dessert — butter-washed Don Papa Masskara with cashew dry vermouth and orgeat syrup. With its sweet taste, you might instantly channel Pirates of the Caribbean’s Jack Sparrow in saying: “Where’s the rum gone?” But that, friends, is why we were extra careful (or loose, depending on who you ask) with this drink. It’s a traitor, alright, one that will have you drinking three glasses and by then, you’ll stop wondering where the rum is.

Burnt Cassava Cheesecake
Don Papa Rum

Montoya’s Dessert course was a burnt cassava cheesecake, a nod to his mother’s classic recipe with a European, specifically Basque, twist. To balance out the sweetness, it is served with a very dark Don Papa Rum caramel. There’s nothing much to say about this dish as it is exactly what you would expect from the description. Still, it’s a pleasant way to end the meal. We confess, however, that as cheesecake lovers (nay, addicts), this part may be biased simply because.

Matt Arnold and Carrie Smith
Don Papa Rum

Even though the meal drew to an end, the night was far from over. Downstairs, at OTO, the Tres Papas had taken over for a one-night-only special cocktail menu. Matt Arnold (world-class and competition-winning mixologist), Carrie Smith (from award-winning Hoot The Redeemer), and Callum Whitehead (Don Papa Rum UK Brand Ambassador) presented their creations that incorporated uniquely British and Scottish ingredients, bringing the flavors of the UK to the Philippines.

“The Tres Papas takeover is inspired by the concept of Bayanihan, communal unity and cooperation. At Don Papa Rum, we look at hospitality around the world as our community and we absolutely love building connections and fostering relationships with bars, restaurants, and bartenders,” Whitehead said.

Don Papa Rum UK Brand Ambassador Callum Whitehead
Don Papa Rum

At the end of the day, it was a memorable dinner and cocktail tasting that had us wishing the dishes and drinks were regularly available at Lampara and OTO. Fortunately, it’s easy to grab a bottle of Don Papa Rum through their partner retailers, and even better news: they’ve got a ton more exciting plans this year.

To stay updated on their events and happenings, check out their website or follow Don Papa Rum on Facebook, Instagram, or X (Formerly Twitter).

Don Papa Rum cocktails
Don Papa Rum

Get the latest curated content with The Beat Asia's newsletters. Sign up now for a weekly dose of the best stories, events, and deals delivered straight to your inbox. Don't miss out! Click here to subscribe.

Sign up to receive updates on what's going on in the city. Don't miss out on exciting events, news, and more. Sign up today!

By submitting your email, you agree to our Terms and Privacy Notice
Thank you for subscribing! Click here if you were not redirected.