CHEF by Rob Pengson: French-Euro Pop-Up

After the successful launch of his new Beso Beso menu this year, Chef Rob Pengson is ecstatic about his latest culinary endeavor. Both a pop-up and a start-up, CHEF by Rob Pengson is out to defy the constraints of fine dining in the Philippines.



Dining area of CHEF by Rob Pengson
The pop-up location of CHEF by Rob Pengson: Chino Roces, Makati

CHEF offers French-European fine dining in its current pop-up location—a spare dining area of his culinary school, the Aleanza Institute, in Makati. It’s right next to Beso Beso Restaurant, giving the spot a speakeasy feel for those exploring this building along Chino Roces Street for the first time.




It’s easy to assume that the chef of CHEF is Pengson himself, but he was quick to let us know that there are others leading this venture with him—Nicey Reyes as chief culinary officer, chef Yancy Ramirez as head of hospitality and guest experiences, and Rachel Rodis as head chef.

Their goal: For their culinary creations to be available anywhere in the Philippines, and not just in their main location in Makati. This pop-up in Makati ends on February 17, 2024, but they’re jet-setting to other destinations. Chef Rob envisions his pop-up serving diners in unusual spots, like in a museum, city hall, a public library, or even your Tita’s house in the province.

Rob Pengson, Gerry Sam Miguel, and Kate Alvarez
L-R: Chef Rob Pengson, Gerry San Miguel of Dude 4 Food, and me
Kate Alvarez
Kate was here.

Gerry San Miguel of Dude 4 Food and I were invited to sample the Antebellum Menu, which features contemporary French courses with global influences.

The Foie Gras Cone was the perfect starter for our multi-course meal. Biting into the foie gras mousse, fruit, nuts, and port jelly was euphoria to my taste buds.

Foie Gras Cone
Foie Gras Cone

Up next was the Crab and Caviar. I dipped my spoon into a hefty serving of caviar with cauliflower panna cotta, topped with a daikon crab rose and edible gold.

Crab and Caviar
Crab and Caviar

We were invited to get up from our seats and head to Beso Beso’s kitchen next door, where we could watch the chefs plate our next course, the Tuna Tartlette with horseradish, crème fraiche, and edible petals.

Tuna Tartlette
Tuna Tartlette

We got Prosciutto Manchego Croquette for the next course, which reminded me of Beso-Beso’s divine Spanish croquetas.

Prosciutto Manchego Chou-quette
Prosciutto Manchego Chou-quette

Up next was Chestnut Mushroom Velouté with a sweet gruyère tuile to balance the soup’s creaminess. It was served in a cup, which I decided to lap up sans the spoon.

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Chestnut Mushroom Velouté
Chestnut Mushroom Velouté

The Ratatouille Salad was served in a tartlet with tomato sorbet inside, making it a mix of hot and cold.

Ratatouile Salad
Ratatouille Salad

For the main course, we got Rib Eye Steak, which, as Chef Rob suggested, is best eaten from left to right. Our gastronomic journey started with the white sauce made of Cabrales blue cheese. As we got to the center of our steak, it was peppery Diane sauce, and then for the last bites of beef, it was truffle red wine sauce. In between bites, we had a side of potatoes and veggies and a glass of red wine.

Rib Eye Steak
Rib Eye Steak. For those who have been following my blog for years, you might be confused by the presence of meat in my latest posts. After being a pescetarian since 2005, I’m now flexitarian.



For dessert, we had two. There’s the light Strawberry Lemon Curd Tart with tropical fruits, spices, and green tea, making it as good as it looks.

Strawberry Lemon Curd Tart
Strawberry Lemon Curd Tart

And finally, to go with our coffee, we were served the Persian-style Tiramisu with mascarpone and marsala-filled choux at the base, a mix of rose petal and cardamon on the head, and a dainty cacao biscuit. For this chocoholic, it was the best way to end the night.

Persian-style Tiramisu
Persian-style Tiramisu

CHEF by Rob Pengson serves lunch and dinner from Thursdays to Saturdays until February 17, 2024. Prices are as follows: Ad Hoc Menu (4 Courses): ₱3,950, Express Menu (7 Courses): ₱6,950, Signature Menu (15 Courses): ₱15,000. Location: Aleanza Institute, 2/F 2257 Chino Roces Ave. Extension, Makati, Philippines. For reservations or catering services, call 0927-1373611. For more info, visit their Instagram.