Chef Chele Gonzalez considers the recognition the silver lining to the cloud of a very long, challenging year
Released, along with the region’s top restaurants at the ninth edition of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants this year, is the inaugural list of restaurants ranked between 51st and 100th in Asia.
And on the 90th spot is Manila’s Gallery by Chele!
This edition is special given what’s going on, with Asia, like the rest of the world, still reeling from the ongoing devastating effects of a pandemic. It’s a call to arms, if you will, with restaurants soldiering on while even takeout and delivery, not to mention dine-in, is a situation in which, under the most extreme of lockdowns, fortune favors the bold, a sort of eat-at-your-own risk proposition.
But, as the rest of us should, Asia’s 50 Best forges on in its mission, as embodied in its other 2021 inaugural, “The Essence of Asia,” to promote the very best restaurants and the hospitality sector on the continent and, in the particular case of “The Essence of Asia,” to give due recognition to “establishments that represent the spirit of Asian gastronomy and those that have had a positive impact on their communities and local cuisine, whether during the recent crisis or over a sustained period.”
‘Gallery by Chele’s love for the natural world shapes their values, frames their philosophies, and influences their creative process. They are moved to showcase the beauty of the place they call home, and share the gastronomic soul of the Philippines.’
The team behind Gallery by Chele considers the 90th spot on Asia’s Best Restaurants 51-100 list after the havoc COVID-19 has wreaked on the F&B industry as the silver lining to the cloud of a very long, challenging year.
“2020 has been quite the year,” says Chele Gonzalez, chef and partner of Gallery by Chele. “All of us in the restaurant industry continue to deal with the shifting realities of the pandemic. We not only have to figure out how to keep our restaurant families and guests safe but we also have to ponder how to keep the business side of our restaurants moving forward. It has been challenge, to say the least.”
But Chele is no stranger to change and challenge and, along with his team, he doesn’t need a global health crisis to shift gears in its search for what’s new and what’s best, or even what’s better, judging from the reintroduction of his restaurant from concept down to its core in 2018, as well as the many pandemic pivots it has undertaken before its reopening in October last year. Its inclusion in the 51-100 list is an opportunity for Gallery by Chele to share the story of its resourcefulness, resilience, imagination, and unwavering commitment to excellence, not to mention what it calls the essentialist dining experience, on the world stage.
This feat offers a platform in which Chele and his team wish to showcase the inspiration they draw from their intimate relationship with nature and the local traditions they weave into their culinary and gastronomic approaches. As they put it in a statement, “Gallery by Chele’s love for the natural world shapes their values, frames their philosophies, and influences their creative process. They are moved to showcase the beauty of the place they call home, and share the gastronomic soul of the Philippines.”
Indeed, from its culinary roots, the restaurant has leaped beyond borders, carrying along with it local ingredients and techniques, and the resultant fine dining experience reflects this major coup that at once respects tradition yet refuses to be bound by it, remaining open to other cultural and culinary influences. “Travel may be limited at the moment, but on every plate, guests will find the flavors from here and the world,” the team declares proudly.
Chele adds, “To be acknowledged by our peers in Asia is an honor. It is a privilege for us to represent the place that we love, live, and work in. It is a place that inspires us, a place we call home. To be part of this list is simply one of best moments. Thank you to the Asia’s 50 Best Restaurant Academy, our hardworking team and to our ever-supportive guests.”