IT'S  THE COOKING  SCHOOL OF HARD KNOCKS FOR ALBERT MARTINEZ

MANILA, November 24, 2005 (STAR) KITCHEN SPY By Heidi Ng - Hey, I like this! I can get used to this! This is a scene straight out of Wish Ko Lang," says Albert Martinez as he dons an Edsa Shangri-La chefís jacket and apron. "I have always dreamed of trying to be a chef, even for a day, and now I am here at the Edsa Shangri-La kitchen," he adds, as he gets ready to cook for our shoot. The other hotel cooks are keeping an eye on him, as Edsa Shangri-La executive chef Timothy James Stanhope assists in preparing the ingredients Albert needs for this cookout for the Philippine STAR, just another day in his hectic schedule.

Albert Martinez is one busy man nowadays. He runs his own events, advertising, production, and marketing firm. He was behind the much talked about Luna Awards this year at the Westin Philippine Plaza, where celebrities were driven to the events in BMWs before they walked down the red carpet. Gifts, such as Bulgari watches and bags from Yves Saint Laurent, were given away to the stars, who toasted on Moet et Chandon by the Westin poolside as fireworks lit the sky. The awards night certainly brought glitz and glamour to local show business.

He is also producing the Winnerís Ball, which brings together in one event all the award-giving bodies, from the Famas, Urian, Cinemanila, Film Academy Awards to Cinemabuhay.

Cinemabuhay is a digital film showcase. "We are producing five digital films through the generosity of Manny Pangilinan. They will be shown at the SM malls. The eliminations are ongoing. We start shooting by January, deliver by April, and we are hoping to have them shown by July 14," he says with precision. They are giving P1 million to have each of the films produced. Although they want to sponsor more upcoming talents this year, they can only produce five.

Aside from Cinemabuhay, he is also doing a Bodyshots contest and a celebrity Olympics on Boracay Island.

As an actor, he is busy taping for the soap, "Sa Piling Mo," which stars Piolo Pascual, Judy Ann Santos, and Rica Peralejo. The soap is an adaptation of the Robert Redford, Demi Moore, and Woody Harrelson starrer Indecent Proposal. While taping for the soap, he is also starting to shoot a politically themed movie slated for the Metro Manila Film Festival. He will be with veteran actors Eddie Garcia, Christopher de Leon, and Cindy Kurleto.

However, the role he cherishes most is being father to his grown-up kids Alfonso, Alyanna, and 13-year-old Alissandra. Alyanna, his oldest, is an Ateneo de Manila third year high college student, while Alfonso is on his first year at the same school.

"When you donít cook every day, you want quality over quantity. So, we have seafood galore days, barbecue days," Albert says. " I am more of a weekend cook. I cook Pinoy, Italian or barbecue after watching movies with my family."

Everybody knows that he and his wife Liezl eloped and lived in the United States for years. Albert recalls, "I learned how to cook in the StatesÖ well, I was forced to learn. So, I would watch Bobby Flay, Mario Bataliís cooking show, and Wok with Yan. We had to go through the experience. And then you learn to appreciate little things in life because you are not sheltered. It was very hard."

When the Martinezes came home to the Philippines, their experience abroad and the housekeeping skills they learned were not forgotten. Cooking was definitely one of those skills. Albert is proud of the time he surprised Liezl by cooking a meal of seven dishes for her birthday and inviting over her cousins Aga and Charlene Muhlach and their other friends. He prepared everything, from the appetizers to decorating the house with candles, and picking the right wine to pair with the dishes. He is very particular about how he serves his dishes, from plating the food to choosing the right wine to complement it. He invites his friends to dinner occasionally.

The dishes he cooked for us were simple seafood dishes, yet they were really delicious. And once you prepare it in your own home, be prepared to be called a chef for a day, too.

Grilled Salmon On A Bed Of Spinach Pasta With White Sauce And Mushroom 200 g. salmon

1/2 lemon wedge

pepper to taste

pinch of salt

1/2 Tbsp. olive oil

1/2 can Campbellís cream of mushroom soup

Season the salmon with the lemon, salt and pepper, and olive oil. Grill to desired doneness. Serve on a bed of cooked spinach pasta and top with the white sauce.

If you have more time to cook, you can do the white sauce from scratch instead of using the cream of mushroom soup. Edsa Shangri-La executive chef Timothy James Stanhope shares this recipe for white sauce.

White Sauce 50 ml. cream

3 cloves garlic

1 cup chicken stock

1/2 cup white wine

1 whole onion

Sautť the garlic and onion. Add white wine. Reduce to half. Add chicken stock and cream. Reduce again to half. Pour through a strainer. Reduce for the last time.

Seared Tuna Wrapped In Wasabi 1 tuna loin

wasabi

soya oil

With your hands, spread the wasabi on the tuna loin. When the tuna is fully wrapped with wasabi, sear the outer layer of the fish, one side at a time, in a pan filled with soya oil. After all the sides have been seared so that the outer layer looks white while it still is red on the inside, take the tuna out of the pan. Place on a chopping board and slice sashimi-style.

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Feedback is welcome. E-mail the author at starkitchenspy@yahoo.com.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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