Tito Chef Restaurant is the brainchild of Chef Menoy Gimenez and his culinary team. Fondly called "Tito Chef" by his nephew, Chef Menoy decided to name his neighborhood restaurant after that, set it downsouth Manila, complete with a culinary store, wine repository and an alternative art gallery. With a progressive bistro menu, there surely is something for everybody-- starters to share, generously portioned entrees, specialty pastas and delectable classic desserts.
MAN FOR FOOD, FOOD FOR MAN
Article by: Patricia Baun
Published at Breakfast Magazine
Affectionately called Tito Chef by his family, friends and customers, Chef Menoy has been in the industry long enough to be respected by everyone he meets along the way, either as a chef, a restaurateur, or as a mentor. Or all of the above.
I thought it was appropriate that we came to him a day after the storm raged through Metro Manila. His namesake restaurant, Tito Chef, sustained a few damages due to strong winds and heavy rain. But Chef Menoy didn’t seem ruffled by this at all. He was a picture of a gentle soul made strongly by life’s many challenges.
Chef Menoy’s love affair with cooking started early a passion fostered at home. Every Saturday, I would watch Nora Daza cook during the 70’s he recalled with nostalgia. And he would replicate the recipes the next day, because back then that was the only cooking show to draw inspiration from.
After high school, he wanted to go straight to cooking school, but Chef Menoy mother encouraged him to go to University of the Philippines. After three years of collegiate studies, he was finally on his way to the Big Apple to fulfill his culinary dreams. He graduated with high honors and continued to train in La Colombe Dor in Manhattan. That’s where I realized that the work is fun if you put a system into it.
The Tiger Economy seemed appealing to the daring chef, so Chef Menoy came back hoping to continue his good start, until the economy declined sooner that anybody had hoped. Tough times they don’t last. But tough people do “Opportunities did not leave Chef Menoy, as he became one of the faculty in Center for Culinary Arts Manila. He was only 26 then, but he was and still is one of the best the culinary school ever had. I love watching and realized I was a natural teacher. I could transfer the technology and the people can actually do it.”
Aside from teaching, Chef Menoy was also behind the opening of several pioneering restaurants in the Fort. He was also spearheaded the opening of the first C2 Classic Cuisine in Makati City., Chef Menoy revolutionized “institutional dining” as he worked n St. Luke’s Medical Center traditional fares. The list went on, the pile of his credentials went higher and higher. Chef Menoy Gimenez simply won’t stop.
Presently, Chef Menoy busies himself with managing Tito Chef in its flagship branch in Paranaque. It takes a certain personality to operate a restaurant. You should learn how to talk, and you should say thank you a lot, he shares. The hardest one to manage in a restaurant is people. When you hire people, its 50% trust and 50% gut feel. You hire the attitude, you can always teach the acumen.
Sometimes, chances aren’t always in Chef Menoy’s favor, just like with other restaurateur. With the drastic price increase of garlic, sopa de ajo still remains to be their Spanish cycles soup dish. Times like this, Chef Menoy relies on his ability to compromise and innovate for equally favorable results for him and his clients.
And as much as a busy schedule calls for rest, Chef Menoy makes it a point to jog before he starts his daily work. After which, he comes to the restaurant for his morning rounds, go home for a quick shower and returns just in time for lunch service. In the afternoon, he goes out for errands and goes to Tito Chef in Acropolis, Quezon City despite its stark distance from the south. Before dinner service, Chef Menoy rounds up his staff for quick updates about the restaurant in general.
Chef Menoy has successfully thrived in a business where perception makes or breaks you. And whatever hat he would wear next, our Tito Chef will surely thrive and conquer.