20 Foodie Questions: Jim Simon Gozun


For this new edition of my “20 Foodie Questions” I am featuring pâtissier Jim Simon “Syme” Gozun. So here here it is:

Name: Jim Simon Gozun

Nationality: Filipino

Country of Residence: Philippines

1. Your Restaurant/Business: Infinite Syme Desserts

2. About Your ideal Kitchen: my ideal kitchen needs to be functional, practical, elegant (minimalist style, black, white and gray color scheme) and comfortable. I hate clutter, so cleverly installed storage spaces is a must as well as a layout design that provides a harmonious kitchen traffic.

3. Your Favorite baked Item: Brazo De Mercedes… I can finish an entire roll!

4. First Job: I worked as a call center agent way before I graduated from college but I remember that even back then I have always dreamed of starting up a café or a bakeshop.

6. Your Awards: The last one was from the Grand Culinary Challenge, we were 2nd placer for our Champorado-filled Buchi.

7. Your Cooking Inspiration: My clients. It’s always about their gastronomic pleasure.

8. Your Specialty Cakes: Devil’s Food Cake & Blueberry Cheesecake

9. Favorite Dish To Eat: Dinuguan.

10. Weirdest Thing You Ever Ate: Burger Patty made from Banana peelings… weird right?!

11. Favorite Ice Cream Flavor: Pistachio and Cookie Dough for the win!

12. Favorite Drink: Everything taste better with Coke.

13. Favorite Dessert: Caramel Cheesecake!

14. Who Would You Most Like To Bake For: Family and friends

15. Who Would You Least Like To Bake For? Clients who’s first sentence when placing their order is “Wala bang discount?”. My creations/products don’t deserve to be on discounted price.

16. Favorite Things to Do When Not Baking/ Cooking? : Read books. Fiction.

17. Your Latest Project: Working on new cupcake flavors for Infinite Syme Desserts that would be launched around October-November in time for the Christmas season.

18. Favorite City/ Country and Why: New York! I’ve never been there but it’s my dream to live and work there.

19. Your Greatest Indulgence: Books, May it be fiction or recipe collection.

20. Your All Time Best Baking Tips: Never use peanuts when the recipe calls for almonds. (Never compromise the quality of your product by choosing cheap alternatives, buy the best ingredients so you can produce the best products)


Devotional Struggle

The Black Nazarene, physically speaking, is a life-sized, dark wooden sculpture of Jesus Christ carrying the cross, and is believed to be miraculous by many Filipino Catholics.
It is one of the two statues brought from Mexico; the older and more popular one belonging to the Recollects was destroyed during the Second World War during the Liberation of Manila in 1945. The original statue was said to be of fair complexion but according to old stories it was burned by a fire aboard the Manila galleon resulting in its present state.
The statue is removed annually for public veneration from its major shrine in the Minor Basilica of Quiapo on three occasions: New Year’s Day (Jannuary 1), Good Friday, and on January 9 when its novena feast and the traslación (commemoration of its official transfer from Luneta to Quiapo)
The Form
The statue derives its name from Jesus’ hailing from Nazareth. Resting on its head is the traditional Tres Potencias halo, symbolizing the Holy Trinity. These three crown of rays are used to identify Christ in Hispanic iconography (since the statue originated from a Hispanic country, Mexico)
The statue’s original body has said to have lost several fingers over the years, and the original head has since been transferred several times onto a full-scale replica body by renowned Filipino sculptor Gener Manlaqui as commissioned by the Archdiocese of Manila. Actually, the original statue was ‘split’ into two: The original head, arms and hands was placed on a replica statue that is now enshrined in the Quiapo basilica while the original body, legs and feet was attached on another replica for public veneration.  The statue also bears a large wooden cross with gilded brass caps on its ends while the head wears a wig made of dyed abaca, along with a golden crown of thorns.
The Nazareno is dressed in maroon, embroidered with golden floral emblems, and with lace trimmings on the collar and cuffs. A gold-plated metal belt embossed with the word “NAZARENO” encircles the image’s waist, while a golden chain and ball loops around the neck and is held in its left hand, representing flagellation. The barefooted statue is in a genuflecting posture, symbolizing the passion of Christ.
The image’s wooden base is called the peana, while its carroza used in processions or during the translacion is called the Ándas (from the Spanish term andar, which means “to move forward”). The Ándas is pulled by devotees using a pair of long, thick ropes.
In 1650, Pope Innocent X approved the veneration of the Black Nazarene as a sacramental (meaning an object, thing or action that is sacred and signifies spiritual effect such as to excite pious thoughts and to increase devotion) and authorised the establishment of the Confraternity of the Most Holy Jesus Nazarene (Cofradía de Nuestro Santo Jesús Nazareno) Pope Pius VII granted the statue his Apostolic Blessing in 1880, which granted plenary indulgence to those who piously pray before it.
Idolatry? Devotion? or just Popular Religiosity?
Over the years, many have begun analyzing the devotion to the Black Nazarene and somehow they were able to associate three distinct elements: Miracles, Identification of the Filipinos’ suffering and the so-called “panata.” And interestingly, devotees are growing over the years. And why so? Simply because the devotees clearly see the Lord amidst the ocean of crowd and in the trouble of treading the long procession route. It is the Lord who is alive and present in the Basilica of Quiapo. It is the Lord who has that special place in the heart of the poor and the weak who come to Him in Quiapo. It is the Lord who they see in Quiapo that answer their prayers and personal wishes.
Apparently, the annual celebration is almost close to bordering abuses. But I believe those abuses comes not from the expression of the people’s faith, but from those who manipulate the devotion and use it for their own personal gain.
Quoting Rev. Fr. Mgsr. Jose Clemente Igancio, Rector and Parish Priest of the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene in Quiapo in his article “Devotion to the Black Nazarene: A Pastoral Understanding:
“When the Papal Nuncio and the Priests of the Nunciature came to Quiapo the next day after the January 9, 2011 procession. They requested to visit the statue of the Black Nazarene. I brought them to the chamber that kept the image in its quiet. When the former Nuncio, His Excellency Most Rev. Edward Joseph Adams, DD and the priests entered, they were silent in prayer. Then, the Nuncio knelt and kissed the hand of the Black Nazarene. So did his priests. After this, he took his rosary from his pocket and wiped it at the hands of Our Lord of the Black Nazarene. Two devotions meeting, the devotion to our Blessed Mother and to Our Lord of the Black Nazarene. I then realized what great treasures we have as Filipinos – our devotions – and among them is this Devotion to the Black Nazarene.”

All New Home-made Dishes

If you happen to be passing the streets of Manila, particular along Dapitan street (near Blumentritt and the Pontifical University of Santo Tomas in Espana) I strongly suggest that you visit a small karenderia named Goto My Place located at #1919 Kundiman cor. Dapitan street, Sampaloc, Manila. Although it’s a local food house, there you will find home-made delicacies that will surely enchant your palate.

I visited the karinderia in one occasion and I tried two (2) of their bestsellers. So here we go:

The good’ ol Pork Sisig

‘Sisig’ is a popular appetizer turned main dish that originated from the culinary province, Pampanga. Originally, the dish is composed of chopped pigs face and ears with chicken liver. Hundreds of variations are available today ranging from the original pigs face ingredient to a more health-conscious seafood mix such as squid, tuna, milk fish (bangus), and mussels.

The one that I tried has was served in a hot sizzling plate, has a crunchy consistency and a creamy taste because of the combination of mayonnaise and egg.


Ginataang Paco

Paco is a local term for the tender sprouts of a vegetable fern (the edibles ones to be precise) I was told that during the old days ambulant vendors used to pass houses and people could buy bunchesfrom them. But now a days, paco is rather hard to find. So when you spot bunches at the market make sure you won’t miss them and cook them for dinner. Some people like to prepare paco as a salad; though I haven’t tried that. But it was introduced to me with smoked fish flakes and coconut cream. Yummy!


So if you’re squeamish about the idea of trying new foods, consider this local food stop. Not only do new tastes stimulate your palate, they can create new connections in your brain. It will most definitely broaden your cooking horizons and expand the way you think about good home-made food, and maybe even give you some ideas for making dinner at home.

Endless Eating @ Figaro

I simply cannot resist the idea of eating abundantly (yes I know its gluttony but what the heck) so when a friend of mine invited me for an “All you can eat” treat I immediately said “I’m In!”

But this time, it’s not in a fancy hotel or restaurant but in a café (oh boy, can you believe it? LOL!) and that place is none other than Figaro. I instantly said yes because being a coffee-lover I’m quite homey with this coffeeshop and I’m somewhat acquainted with their food line.

Figaro Coffee Company

I got at Figaro-EDSA Shangrila 30 minutes earlier the call time so I found myself in one of their comfty  seats and was told to help myself with their house blend coffee while waiting for them. And with the little help of my Figaro Coffee Club Card I enjoyed my good ‘ol coffee with free refills (hooray!) hehehehe!

Now after blissfully waiting, friends came in and so the fight is on.

The Concept

So here’s how it works:

‘All You Can Eat’

It’s very quite simple. You get to have your choice of pasta + your choice of sandwich and a bottomless cool lemon juice. In every batch you can either get the same combination or inter-change your choices of pasta and sandwich.

For my 1st batch, I had Carbonara and a Bacon-Letuce-Tomato (BLT) sandwich. Two things good about this pair: delicious smoky bacon and fresh veggies. Enough said. 😉

Carbonara and BLT

After finishing my first batch, the wait staff took my second order for my second helping. This time I had Pasta Al Tonno and Grilled Chicken. What I love about this pair: Chicken is very tender and grilled to perfection and the tuna are very tasty and well integrated with the other ingredients. I bet once you have tried this, your tuna casserole (if you are used of making one) will never be the same..hehehe! 🙂

Pasta Al Tonno and Grilled Chicken

Now, for my 3rd batch (and I think my last as I am already very full..LOL! :D), I had Pasta ala Pesto and Grilled Eggplant sandwich. This pair is pure vegetables and very recommended for vegans or for those who are very keen with calories. Fresh Basils were used to form the pesto and eggplant goes very well with it.

I also tried their Tuna and Cheese, and all I can say is its very heavenly. And so far its the best tuna salad sandwich that I had. It’s perfectly combined with the usual veggies that goes with your traditional tuna sandwich.

Pesto and Grilled Eggplant
Tuna and Cheese

Well I guess that’s it. I have to admit that I’m already full and I regret that I can’t anymore take the Pasta Arabiata (damn!) But overall, the ‘All You Can Eat’ challenge was a success and I went home with a smile. 🙂 I would definitely won’t mind going back and will recommend it to friends.

The ‘All You Can Eat’ promo is up until February of this year. As usual, no sharing, no left-overs and strictly for dine-in only. See flyer’s for participating stores.

1510578_10151853609098663_1005634471_nMy over-all rating: 5 Stars! 🙂

20 Foodie Questions: Chef Gary Gutierrez

For the New Year’s edition of my 20 Foodie Questions, I am featuring Figaro Coffee Company’s R&D Chef Gary Gutierrez. 🙂

Name: Gary T. Gutierrez
Country of Residence:Philippines

1. Your Restaurant/Business:Figaro Coffee System Inc. / Bite Me!
2. About Your ideal Kitchen: 60’s Diner Contemporary
3. Your Favorite baked Item: Coffee Cake
4. First Job: Bank Teller
6. Your Awards: Food Showdown Silver Awardee – Wedding Cake category
7. Your Cooking Inspiration: Gale Gand/Martha Stewart
8. Your Specialty Cakes: Tablea Blackout Cake / Tropical Carrot Cake
9. Favorite Dish To Eat: Polynesian Chicken *Tinola 😉
10. Weirdest Thing You Ever Ate: Sea Urchin
11. Favorite Ice Cream Flavor: Coffee Crumble
12. Favorite Drink: Red Iced Tea
13. Favorite Dessert: Ube Jam *Purple Yam
14. Who Would You Most Like To Bake For: Love Ones *family *relatives *close friends
15. Who Would You Least Like To Bake For?.. Odd-Air headed People? Ahahah
16. Favorite Things to Do When Not Baking: Grocery Chore
17. Your Latest Project: Cake Line Up of Bite Me!
18. Favorite City/ Country and Why: Auckland, New Zealand. Why? Simply Laid Back 😉
19. Your Greatest Indulgence: A Jar of Nutella
20. Your All Time Best Baking Tips: Know your ingredients well. And always Bake when you are in a good mood not the other way around Hehe 😉


The 20 Foodie Questions: Chef Jo Javier

For this edition, I am featuring Pastry Chef Jo Javier
Name: Jojo Cuesta Javier
Age: 39
Nationality: Filipino
Country of Residence: Philippines
1. Your Restaurant/Business: Sweetielicious Homemade Goodies
2. About Your ideal Kitchen: A big kitchen that has a plenty of work space to accommodate more students for my baking class.
3. Your Favorite baked Item: Cakes
4. First Job: Sales Representative
6. Your Awards: Loyalty Award…(hahaha!)
7. Your Cooking Inspiration: Heny Sison, Judy Uson for local
8. Your Specialty Cakes: Cheesecake, Mango Cake and Strawberry Shortcake
9. Favorite Dish To Eat: Tapsilog, Pasta, Tacos
10. Weirdest Thing You Ever Ate: I don’t remember…
11. Favorite Ice Cream Flavor: Mango
12. Favorite Drink: Coke
13. Favorite Dessert: Cheesecake
14. Who Would You Most Like To Bake For:  I want to bake a cake for the President
15. Who Would You Least Like To Bake For? My detractors..(hahaha!)
16. Favorite Things to Do When Not Baking: bonding time with my unica hija and my husband.
17. Your Latest Project: Aside from my cakes orders weekly, I was recently featured at Woman Today Magazine for their May issue, and latest is Cook Connecting Foodies Magazine volume 14. Last May I was chosen to be one of the judges at IFEX Modern Chef Competition and at the same time conducted some demo. I’ll be featured again for the 2nd time in Celebrity Recipe July issue so watch out for it…
18. Favorite City/ Country and Why: Jerusalem because it is a city that promises a religious and spiritual experience, excitement and pleasure, interesting tours and entertaining adventures.. it’s everyone’s dream….
19. Your Greatest Indulgence: Baking tools and equipments
20. Your All Time Best Baking Tips: It doesn’t take having a special gift or a magic touch to work wonders in the kitchen. The secret is practice, practice, practice! Some people seem to be able to toss things together and achieve wonderful results. This is a skill they achieved by many years of cooking and baking. Always Remember – skills and confidence comes with practice. And most important is you do it with passion.

The 20 Foodie Questions: Chef Mark Infante

Welcome to my newest concept “The 20 Foodie Questions”.

I always believe that before you go global, one should be able to harness the particular and therefore it is just proper to recognize our home grown talents. So every month I will feature a chef with their answers to the 20 foodie questions.

For the first edition, I am featuring my very good friend Chef Mark Infante.


Name:  Chef Mark Infante

Age:  27

Nationality: Filipino

Country of Residence: Philippines

1. Your Current Job/ Business: Research and Development (R&D) Chef, Event Stylist, Part time Chef Instructor 

2. About Your ideal Kitchen: I would like a modern , granite work tops, a double oven but raised at eye level.

3. Your Favorite cooking Item: Chef’s Knife and My Old hand mixer is definitely my most useful item for 7 years

4. First Job:  Chef Instructor and part-time Chef consultant at my uncle’s Pub house.

5. Your favorite Cookbook: Cook’s Bible, Chocolate Unwrapped by Sarah Jane Evans

6. Your Awards: None that I can remember

7. Your Cooking Inspiration: My inspiration was my mom. She’s a great cook.

8. Your Specialty Dish: Seafood Ravioli in creamy aligue sauce

9. Favorite Dish To Eat: Vietnamese food  (Bahn mi), Singaporean Laksa, Thai

10. Weirdest Thing You Ever Ate:  Durian

11. Favorite Ice Cream Flavor: Dark Chocolate, Pistachio, Vanilla

12. Favorite Drink: Earl grey Milk tea and Green tea frappe

13. Favorite Wine: Hermits or any Dessert wines

14. Who Would You Most Like To Cook For: I would love to cook for Chef Bernadette Olivares she used to be my mentor when I was in college.

15. Who Would You Least Like To Cook For: People who are on diet.

16. Favorite Things To Do When Not Cooking: Watching TV series, going for a grocery, and shopping

17. Your Latest Project: I prepared 3 course 20 pax menu for friend’s birthday last February

18. Favorite City/ Country and Why: Pampanga is the best for me. There are lots of good restaurants and super delicious foods.

19. Your Greatest Indulgence: Real Belgian chocolates

20. All Time Best Culinary Tip: Cook with your heart