For Claire dela Fuente who loves to eat, a fourth resto
Singer Claire dela Fuente’s uncanny success as a restaurateur is fueled by her love for good food. Dining out was a passion shared with her late husband, Moises de Guzman. To this day, when abroad, she continues to indulge the singular guilty pleasure with her two sons, Gego and Mickey. But here at home, she now has four restaurants of her own.
Claire has always made it a point to learn how to prepare dishes that have piqued her sharp palate. She likes to joke that her most enduring romance is with the spacious kitchen in her Hillsborough home. She has experimented with time-tested recipes and even created new ones, employing techniques perfected through the years and using ingredients discovered on periodic “hunts.”
Claire’s friends were more than willing taste-testers. Claire invited them periodically to lunch or dinner, no special occasion required, but they had to honestly critique every meal.
Over time, the feedback became encouraging enough for Claire to venture into food service. She opened the Claire Dela Fuente seafood restaurant along Macapagal Avenue in Pasay City. Less than a year later, it opened a branch on the same street.
Then came another outlet at Tiendesitas in Ortigas, Pasig, followed by still another at the Mall of Asia seafront. This last one had to be closed after a while due to some problem about its location.
Claire’s latest venture is Asian Noodle Co. by Chef Off. That’s short for Nasawoothoff Thomapoon. He’s Thai. Their third partner is businesswoman Rosemarie P. Rafael, from Davao City. The restaurant is inside the Asean Power Station (in front the new Department of Foreign Affairs building) along Macapagal Avenue in Pasay.
At the formal opening on Thursday, September 8, among the celebrity guests were Sam Pinto, Bela Padilla and Maffi Soler, GMA 7 stars managed by Claire. Yes, her own “Protégés” (she’s one of the mentors in the new Kapuso reality talent search). Lawyer Annette Gozon-Abrogar, president of GMA Films, was likewise spotted enjoying Chef Off’s buffet offerings.
Many other guests came all the way from as far as Baguio City, like lawyer turned pastor Voltaire Acosta.
Cheff Off, whose likeness is an integral part of the restaurant’s logo, is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America. He used to be at the helm of Kafe Yen, an award-winning family-owned eatery in Bangkok. The new restaurant serves interesting Asian recipes that use at least 34 kinds of noodles.
Claire is especially proud of the menu’s vegetarian section, not usually prioritized in restaurants featuring Chinese-style cuisine. “Everyone should find something when they come to dine here,” she said. “I have vegetarian friends.”
Is there a chance she’ll ever go vegetarian like them? “I love all kinds of delicious food!” Claire exclaimed, totally and unapologetically avoiding the issue.
“And spread the word about ‘Protégés,’ okay?”
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