A place of her own

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WE ALL long for a space where we can truly be ourselves. White as the uniform chef Jessie Sincioco often wears, her new building, at a cozy five stories, looms above the streets of a residential area near Makati’s City Hall.

Ms. Sincioco has been in the kitchen since at least the mid-1980s, and then becoming the first Filipina pastry chef of the much-missed Hotel Intercontinental Manila in 1990. She achieved a sort of fame in upper-crust circles with her restaurants Chef Jessie’s in Rockwell, and Top of the Citi, but achieved lasting and a more democratic fame when she prepared a roast beef for the visit of Pope Francis in Manila in 2015.

BusinessWorld paid a visit to Ms. Sincioco’s new headquarters, located in Pililia St. in Makati, during its open house on Dec. 8. “I just feel that I should really have a place where I can do my catering,” she said, when asked about the decisions that led to the five-story building. “Somehow it disrupts the operations of the outlets whenever we would have to prepare.”

The building is not yet fully opened and some parts are yet to be completed. It will be fully operational by February, and when it opens, one floor of the building will be dedicated to a kitchen and commissary which she designed herself. It will include a cold kitchen, a walk-in chiller and freezer, and a “huge hot section” which would enable her and her staff to cater to thousands. As well, while she says that teaching courses “can come later, when we’re settled,” she plans to offer certificate short-courses in the future.

Another floor will have her patisserie and café, and another function rooms and a dining area for a possible casual-dining restaurant. Another floor will hold function rooms to accommodate about 250. Offices and a stunning chapel with an oculus in the ceiling occupy the penultimate floor, while a roofdeck, also for events caps the rest of the building.

“To tell you honestly: not really,” she said, when asked if she ever thought she’d come to own her own building someday. “Never entered my mind.”

“I think it’s all the fruits of hard work, dedication — and I do love doing what I do.” — J.L. Garcia