Mama’s Table : A Private Catered Meal by Chef Vicky Tinio Clemente in Baguio City

She went home to take care of her parents. She lived and worked in Canada  as a chef.  But her Mama needed her, so she went back to her family.
Mama’s Table is an amazing story of a chef who went home to look after her parents, and she never looked back. Vicky Tinio Clemente is the chef behind Mama’s Table and and this is  how I stumbled upon her story, her personalized, private 8-course dinners and her breathtaking Baguio city home.

“Are you all set for 12 noon lunch?” Chef Vicky sent me a text to remind me. I replied with a phone call to get directions. Her red-colored 2-storey family home was on Ambuklao Road, approximately a 35 minute drive through the Baguio city traffic. Once you get further away from the city, traffic is less, but the roads get narrower and there are less commercial establishments.

“It’s the RED house on the hill, right side, just before the Kilometer post 254. There is a sign that says ‘888A VTC’”, instructed Vicky on the phone.

Have you ever had a private chef cook you an 8 course fancy meal, while you gaze at a prism of pretty florals, shrubs, tall pine trees and a magnificent view of the mountains?

I did. And not once did I imagine this could be possible . During my recent trip to Manila, I was introduced to Chef Vicky Tinio Clemente.  She told me she did private dinners for groups of 6 and  more in her Baguio home.

I was intrigued. I had never had a chef cook me a private meal, personalized just for me.
So one Saturday afternoon, we found ourselves in the car, on Ambuklao road , headed to “Mama’sTable”.

Baguio city, is approximately 168 miles or 270 kilometers  north of Manila, Philippines. That’s  a 6 hour drive by car via the Northern Luzon Expressway and the long Macarthur Highway, spanning several provinces in Luzon. Halfway through the trip, is my home province, Tarlac.  From Tarlac, it took us 3 hours , to drive north to a cooler climate.

Our family arrived punctually at noon, and soon as we got down from the car, a colder breeze brushed our cheeks. I suddenly felt hungry at the thought of what lied ahead. Before I could knock a second time, Chef Vicky opened the door cheerfully, in her crisp, white Chef’s garb, warmly welcoming our group. 

 

What captured my eyes immediately was the wide expanse of the elegant home, that had the coziness of a well-kept cottage. The walls were the windows, too, from left to right an expanse of sheer clear glass. It was meant to showcase the gorgeous garden of varying colors, foliage and greens abundantly around the house. I thought I had stepped into heaven!

Immediately, we were greeted with an assortment of  starters : dips, chips, breads and crackers.

CHICHARON IN BANGUS DIP was my favorite. It had  smokey flavors of “bangus” or milkfish blended deep into cream cheese, milk, butter, seasonings. The crisp crackle of “chicharon” or pork rinds with the cream cheese slathered on it was unmistakable.

We also had quick bites of other appetizers : Chili con Carne with Lime Tostitots, Artichoke, Parmesan and Mozarella with garlic served warm. And yes, I will replicate and post future blogs on all these because I asked Chef Vicky how to make them !

Soon after, we were invited to take our seats in the well-placed elegant settings. I had never known a glass of water to look this elegant !

The 8 course meal was rolled out to us like a dream. Every dish was a gustatory experience. I could barely speak. I could barely write my blog notes. I sometimes even forgot to photograph, because the food was just so well crafted and cooked. It was not just a meal. It was an artistic experience.

First course,, Truffled Custard with caramelized onions, shitake mushrooms paired with an anchovy buttered baked toast.

Second, the Squash soup with Turnips and leeks. I clearly savored the celery, squash flowers, tarragon, milk and white wine immersed within.

The Intermezzo was a surprise. In between soup and seafood , Chef Vicky served us a scrumptious Shrimp & Fish Cake made with coriander and mint, paired with a pretty papaya salad and cilantro. The seafood flavors merged well with the tropical, sweetness of the salad!

I love seafood and the Sole on a bed of sautéed scallops, mushrooms and oysters did not disappoint. In fact, I was enthralled by the beauty of the food styling, the superb flavors blended well within the various ingredients.

At this point, I looked out the window, and from where I sat, every angle was mesmerizing. 

“What inspires you?” I asked Chef Vicky, with curiosity for her attention to detail, and unique, fresh flavors.

“When I read recipes, I can practically taste it !” Chef Vicky happily said.

Her cooking style is classic French. Chef Vicky goes by the French philosophy that if the ingredients are good, there is no need to camouflage it with anything else. You have the best flavors right there in the great ingredients.

Vicky Tinio Clemente went to the French Culinary Institute in the USA for her professional training. While working as a chef in Canada, she was also trained as a certified private chef in Toronto.  She  has also been to Florence, Italy, traveling extensively from the north to the south for a 12-week course on ingredient-based recipes.

 

Back in Baguio, Chef Vicky cooks privately catered dinners for a minimum of 6 upto 24 people. She answers questions on ingredients, procedures and gives consideration to allergies, food and health restrictions. All you need to do is mention it to her WAY BEFORE the meal.

The meal rolled onto more delectable divinities. We had the full plate of Seared Tenderloin steak with red wine & mushroom gravy and accompanied by a bacon-corn mushroom risotto. The vegetables were crisp but flavors of a parboiled medley and sauted in butter came through.

The beef was locally sourced – from Australian cattle brought in Batangas, bred in the Philippines, we were told. It was a choice cut and cooked expertly. It felt like a luxurious, velvety sliver of beef, packed with an immense flavors right in my mouth. 

And just before the meal ended, true to French form, the huge, big fresh vegetable salad was brought out. Vicky informed us this was the French way, to serve the fresh veggie salad just before the meal ended, as a way to cleanse the palate.

The Moroccan vegetable salad had lots of oranges, dates, almonds, an abundance of romaine lettuce and the right amount of watercress. A light, delicate citrus vinaigrette accompanied it . I could sense the rice wine vinegar, orange and lemon flavors, sunflower oil and some wild, organic honey.

“The French eat salad at the end of the meal. Just before dessert,” exclaimed Vicky when she brought out this abundant platter of greens. Did we complain ? Of course not. My family devoured everything to the last morsel.

Finally, my most favorite course : dessert was a picture-perfect crisp Pavlova. The meringue was exquisite, with rich cream elegantly on top. And to further delight us slices of fresh mangoes, strawberries and a generous amount of chocolate syrup. * But for my sister, who was allergic to chocolates, Chef Vicky obligingly ran back to the kitchen to make her a fresh Pavlova, WITHOUT chocolates. Thanks and our apologies for not telling you in advance, Chef Vicky!

 

“You just cook good food and people will find it! “ were Vicky Tinio Clemente’s parting words to me, when I asked her what keeps her going in the business.

She mentioned she’s been doing private catering in Baguio city for the past 2 years and for 52 straight weeks she is solid booked.

I had no doubt. This was not just a slice of heaven. This was paradise. Vicky Tinio Clemente is the chef who knows how to make good use of flavors, textures, resources.  Her table, “Mama’s Table” is her canvass. And creatively, she concocts masterpieces that take your breath away. Vicky has that gift that only the best chefs have. 

She gives her customers a remarkable, high quality, decadent dining experience because she takes care of all your senses.

You are fascinated by the floral and magical views, the visual appeal of the dinner. Then slowly, you are drawn to the gustatory flavors of everything from the simplest to the most sublime.

You are treated to the most pleasant, relaxing, yet muted soft music in the background as you dine.

You are drawn to the grandiose aromas that come from the kitchen as she freshly cooks your meal.

And finally, you are made to feel pampered, important and just totally indulged by the experience of it all.

No wonder customers keep coming back for more… Chef Vicky Tinio Clemente’s Mama’s Table is never empty !

 

 I was so drawn to the dishes at Mama’s Table that my next gastronomic adventures were spent trying to recreate Chef Vicky’s delish dishes. See my recipe in my next blog post!

 

“Mama’s Table” are private catered dinners by Chef Vicky Tinio Clemente at her home in Baguio City, Philippines.

 Weekends only. For parties starting from 6 upto 20+ people. Bring your own wine, no corkage.

Reserve way in advance.

For prices, reservations or inquiries, MAMA’S TABLE can be reached via

Email : vickyclemente@yahoo.ca   Phone: 63-915-643-8775

Address: 888 A Ambuklao Rd., Baguio City, Philippines

Directions:

(In Baguio City ) From St. Joseph Church on Pacdal rd., go on Wright Park circle. Go around the rotunda past the Police Station. Turn RIGHT on Pacdal Rd., which becomes Ambuklao Rd. Keep driving up the roads. When you reach the apartments, you are near. There are two 888’s. It is not the first one. It’s a red house, on a hill, right side just before Kilometer post 254. There is a sign that says : 888A VTC.

 

 

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