The right ingredients
Anyone can cook, especially if you have the right ingredients, says chef Chris Locher of Amare Ristorante as he prepared two of his original recipes – fettuccine riviera and penne con longaniza – during a cooking demonstration to mark World Pasta Day last month.
The quote may have been inspired by the movie Ratatouille, but it rings true in real life unless you have two left hands, he adds in jest. And by right ingredients, Locher points to Doña Elena Al Dente as his pasta of choice.
“It is made with 100-percent durum wheat semolina flour mixed with water and nothing else. It has no egg, which makes it suitable even for vegans,” Locher says, noting how cooked Doña Elena pasta, which comes in fettuccine, spaghetti, penne rigate, fusilli, and lasagna variants, remains al dente or “firm to the bite.”
“Even if you leave it a minute or two on the stove, it won’t be soggy. That sort of firmness and consistency only comes from artisan quality pasta.”
When Locher arrived in the Philippines more than two decades ago, pasta choices were limited and not very accessible, but the pasta scene has since exploded with major supermarkets and even sari-sari stores carrying all kinds of brands.
“It is not rocket science (when choosing a pasta brand). I think the mark of a really good pasta is when the ingredients are very simple and you can taste the good quality of the pasta,” he says.
Aside from pasta, a key ingredient under the Doña Elena line of products from Fly Ace Corp. is olive oil.
According to Zen Prudentino, group product manager for oils, Doña Elena Olive Oil has maintained its position as the number one brand in the country for more than a decade now, accounting for about 45 percent of the market share.
“We have earned the trust of the Filipino people that is why we are the dominant olive oil brand in the market,” she says.
From dipping, sautéing to frying, top quality olive oil comes in handy in elevating the taste not just of restaurant dishes but of home-cooked meals as well.
It comes as no surprise then that two of the country’s culinary masters – Locavore’s executive chef Mikel Zaguirre and Raintree Restaurant’s corporate chef Kalel Chan – headlined Doña Elena Olive Oil’s Chef Ambassador Series campaign.
“Doña Elena Olive Oil is made for the Filipino palate – it is not too strong yet it remains flavorful. Plus it is easily accessible and the price is very competitive,” says Chan, who executed a very easy to prepare Spanish-style balsamic bangus belly.
“This dish is not only something that anyone can replicate at home, it is also meant to encourage healthy home cooking on a regular basis. It is simple, satisfying, and perfect for days or nights you need to serve something on the table in,” he adds.
Zaguirre, who prepared his own mojo chicken paired with chimichurri, underscores the simple yet sophisticated flavor of the dish.
“Chimichurri is a classic pair that is bouncing with aromatic, garlicky taste with extra virgin olive oil as the main ingredient that binds. It is thick, chunky, and grainy—absolutely perfect for all things roasted and baked,” says Zaguirre.
For Abbie Ng-Reyes, Fly Ace assistant vice president for marketing, earning the trust of Filipinos is the most important accomplishment for the Doña Elena brand.
She notes, “We are proud that Doña Elena continues to the country’s most trusted brand, not just by our loyal consumers but even by today’s most renowned local chefs. The overwhelming response from our consumers inspire us to bring the best of the Mediterranean cuisine’s ingredients to Filipino homes.”
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