I arrived at a Mandaluyong compound earlier than scheduled. The driver washing a vehicle outside the first house asked me to knock on the door after I asked him if I was at the given address of “Plaza Ham”. A uniformed lady ushered me to the formal dining area. I wait a little, the FoodPrints team arrives, beso-beso, Chef Sandy Daza is met by the interviewee, Karla Reyes. Little did I know that the “Plaza Ham” for the FoodPrints feature is The Plaza ham of my juvenile memory. I heard my voice go higher pitched (cringe).
If not the absorbing conversations or the dresses people wore, the food at red-letter occasions is what remains in my memory. A tangible remembrance, a photo with my family (minus my younger sister Nikko, who was not born yet), shot at The Plaza in Makati (where we celebrated my only brother’s high school graduation), is among my highly treasured things.
Karla Reyes is a great grandchild of Engracia Cruz Reyes, more popularly known as Aling Asiang, founder of the trailblaizing pre-war Aristocrat restaurant that has remained a favorite of many Filipinos to this day. Her Lolo Joe and Lola Meldy established The Plaza restaurant in 1965 and later on ventured into catering. The Plaza Premium Baked Ham was brought to perfection by her lola Meldy and The Plaza’s Swedish Master Chef Gosta Pettersson.
Enter Karla’s mom, Millie Reyes, schooled at the prestigious Ecole Hoteliere de la Societe Suisse des Hoteliers of Lausanne, Switzerland, and Cornell University of New York. Mom Millie continues the family’s legacy of catering for important banquets such as past SONAs and other presidential functions. The Plaza’s exceptional baked ham, now being served with The Plaza’s four signature dips and dressings, never ceases to be a favorite.
Presently, youngish Karla manages The Plaza Premium Baked Ham kiosks at select locations. Together with her mom, she writes Food for Thought, a weekly column of The Philippine Star.
Gutsy Garlic, Sweet Mustard, Premium Glaze and Wasabi Mayo: Taking The Plaza Premium Baked Ham to different dimensions.Chirpy Karla and Chef Sandy Daza for the FoodPrints Christmas Special, airing soon on the Lifestyle Network.
Here comes the bomb! The ultimate comfort food. What is it? Extra-tender boiled Angus corned beef slabs. (Mama, if you are reading?!) The rest of the FP team were amused, if not annoyed, that I ate more than what I should have had. I didn’t tell them my mom cooks it so well, but she cooks it not too often ‘coz even in the States, it is rather costly. And I miss her cooking. The Plaza’s version was gratifying.
As I chewed on every bit of The Plaza’s specialties, my very own family, who I rarely see, play in my mind. Our mutual love of food keeps us together like real.
The Plaza Catering’s website
With special thanks to FoodPrints, Chef Sandy Daza and Karla Reyes.
Photographed by Blauearth © Blauearth™ All Rights Reserved 2009-2014