Restaurant : Grace Park
Address : Greenbelt 5, Makati City
In 1986, Margarita “Gaita” Forés packed her bags and flew to Italy for a crash course on Italian cooking. Within six months, she traveled from Florence, Milan and Rome, soaking up as much as she could about Italian culture as well as learning about local markets, ingredients and the home-style cuisine of three signoras. This has been the foundation of her culinary education, from which she has now made a successful empire out of back in her home country, the Philippines.
Her restaurant chain, Café Cibo, has been serving delicious Italian fare for more than a decade now, while Lusso, a champagne bar serving refined comfort food, has been in operations for five years now. She has been a vanguard of the farm-to-table movement since 2006, passionately championing the best locally sourced organic produce from small, provincial farmers. And she proved to be a bonafide locavore when she opened Grace Park, a restaurant that celebrates homegrown ingredients through delicious dishes such as River Prawns in Anchovy Butter, Muscovado Beef Belly and Roast Organic Duck and Fruit. Her Cibo di M Signature Catering Company has been relied on to provide lavish banquets for celebrities and high profile personalities including His Royal Highness Prince Andrew, the Duke of York, and the King and Queen of Spain during the visit of former Philippine President Arroyo in 2007. And as a purveyor of sustainable luxury, she launched Fiori di M Floralscapes and Casa di M table accessories to further showcase the creative use of Philippine indigenous materials.
She has come full circle as she opens Casa Artusi Philippines, the very first offshore campus of the renowned cooking institution, allowing Filipinos to learn traditional Italian dishes the way she did at the very beginning of her career. With her extensive experience, exquisite palette and staunch support on everything local, she has always been top pick to represent her country in international engagements, including Salone del Gusto. Such has been the extent, impact and influence of Margarita Forés on the food landscape of her country. And she continues to make things more vibrant and exciting as she tries to push more boundaries and execute many more delicious ideas to the best of her abilities.