Me and my Philippines: Chefs Rob and Sunshine Pengson

Philippine culinary power couple Chefs Rob and Sunshine Pengson on cooking at home and life after The Goose Station


What’s your typical day like?

Rob Pengson (RP): At home I wake up the earliest. I get some work done around 6am and play with the kids when they wake up then head to the gym at 9am before I go to work. I'm back home at 5pm, play with the kids, dinner, and when the kids are asleep my wife Shine and I like watching movies. Every now and then we go on a date night and I like seeing old friends once in a while. I still like to party but it's extremely toned down nowadays.

Sunshine Puey Pengson (SPP): It’s spent mostly with the kids, some office work and cooking or baking, doing household errands and chores. I sell a variety of cakes and pastries that I bake from home by special order. My son loves chocolate cookies and brownies so I enjoy baking these for him.

What’s the most popular dish you’ve served to your friends at home?

RP: We make good braised beef short ribs and steak and they’re always a hit. To keep it simple we also serve charuceterie on toast with hams and spreads and usually have wine, beer, gin and whiskey.

How do you keep meals healthy?

RP: I like juicing and doing vegan one to three times a day. I eat a lot of vegetables.

SPP: We use olive oil or canola oil only for cooking and try not to go overboard with the heavy butter and cream. 
 

 

Lapu lapu a pil pil

A photo posted by Rob Pengson (@chefrobpengson) on

Describe your kitchen.

RP: Our kitchen at home is awesome. We both designed it. I don’t usually boast but for this one I’m proud to say it's more stocked and equipped than most restaurant kitchens. We have induction stoves and four gas burners, two ovens – electric and gas, which is multi-functional – and we have over two dozens of pans plus every single little tool you can think of. We also have a thermomix, a dehydrator, and a slow juicer.

SPP: It's an open kitchen that we designed since we spend most of our time there. I love that I can watch the kids playing or doing homework while I'm in the kitchen. Our kitchen is quite classic in design with a large island in the center. One of our favorite features is the long pot rack we designed on the ceiling to hold our assortment of pots and pans.

Who does the grocery for your home?

SPP: I do the groceries once or twice a month. I do grocery shopping, online shopping at S&R and Santis Delicatessen for all our needs.
 

 

Always up to no good, these two! ????????

A photo posted by Sunshine Pengson (@sunshinepengson) on

Your favorite restaurants in Manila?

RP: Wildflour Café + Bakery, Sensei Sushi, Elbert's Sandwiches, Terry's Bistro (www.terryselection.com), and anywhere with good burger. For burgers, The Hungry Hound is my favorite.
 

 

It's not too late to have this Chimichurri Steak tonight! We're open til 1AM, drive by!

A photo posted by The Hungry Hound (@hungryhoundph) on

SPP: Masseto for the burrata and short rib sandwich, Elbert's Sandwiches for their burgers and chicken sandwich, and Terry's Bistro for their chorizo paella and tuna belly.

Your top food destinations in the Philippines and why?

I like Dampa in Macapagal in Pasay for fresh seafood. Antonio’s in Tagaytay still has the best ambience and is worth the trip. Alona Beach in Bohol is great because it's a nice quaint beach strip with good food.

SPP: Manila, Bacolod because it's our hometown, and Baguio because it reminds
me of my childhood. As a child, we used to spend time in Baguio eating strawberries with milk and hot chocolate. I enjoy eating at Chicken House (+63915 981 6338) in Baguio for their inasal (Bacolod style of roasting of meat over spit). We'd always stop by Good Shepherd for their peanut brittle and strawberry jam. I like Bacolod’s Restaurant 21. I also like Antonio’s in Tagaytay for its steak tartare and foie gras
Chefs Rob and Sunshine with the kids holidaying in Baguio

Your most memorable meal in the Philippines ever?

RP: My most memorable meal was a tasting menu pop up at Global Academy because I was so impressed with what our local culinary students are capable of.



SPP: Serving the Rizal menu to people. The Rizal menu was a menu served at The Goose Station with each dish representing a time in [Philippine national hero] Jose Rizal’s life. It was our most popular menu to date. 

Your top three food and drink pairings?

RP: Beer and burgers, red wine and tapas, iced tea and chips.

SPP: Beer, burger and fries; shake, burger, fries and corn dogs. 

Your all time most flattering experience ever as chefs?

RP: Being a presenter at the first ever Madrid Fusion Manila in 2015.

SPP: Presenting our food at the Singapore Gastrogig event held in Singapore in September 2012; presenting our first version of the Rizal menu for three nights to a sold out crowd at Madrid Fusion Manila 2015; and being included in the Miele Guide.
Chef Rob presenting at Madrid Fusion Manila 2015

Favorite dish your spouse has made for you?

RP: Sunshine’s the best pastry chef in the country for me. Her desserts are simply outstanding.
 

 

Apple crumble cheesecake yum yum yum. Email gourmandisebysunshine@gmail.com for orders. #GourmandiseBySunshine

A photo posted by Sunshine Pengson (@sunshinepengson) on


SPP: Steak. Rob knows that I like a lot of sauce so he'll normally make me a rich bordelaise sauce or a creamy mushroom gravy to go along with it.

Favorite movies that are related to your profession?

RP: Burnt for its accuracy and 100 Foot Journey.

SPP: Burnt and 100 Foot Journey.

Do you have a playlist for cooking?

RP: I like OPM (original Pilipino music). I listen to Tadhana, Tracy Chapman, Bamboo, Live, Audio Slave, Sam Smith.

Any home cooking advice?

RP: It’s easy to cook well. Perfect one recipe at a time, love it!

SPP: Keep it simple.

About Chefs Rob and Sunshine
 


Chef Rob Pengson established the Global Culinary & Hospitality Academy, now one of the biggest culinary schools in the country, with four branches (Alabang, Makati, Ortigas in Pasig and Quezon City). The school is expanding its courses on offer and plans to open more branches. Visit Global Academy. Chef Rob is also currently looking at operating food and beverage in medium to large scale hotels and properties.

 


Chef Sunshine Puey Pengson is a graduate of Tante Marie's Cooking School in San Francisco and Ecole Ritz Escoffier in Paris, France, and later on became an instructor at The Global Culinary & Hospitality Academy. She specializes on cakes and pastry. To order, email gourmandisebysunshine@gmail.com.

The culinary couple’s defunct fine dining restaurant, The Goose Station, known for its degustation meals or tasting menus, has been voted as the top restaurant in Manila and one of the 100 best restaurants in Asia by the Miele Guide.

Follow @chefrobpengson and @sunshinepengson. For inquiries, email Robpengson.info@gmail.com.

For the full interview, buy InFlight Traveller's June to August 2016 issue at National Bookstore, Powerbooks and Fullybooked.

-By Monica De Leon

Published May 2016