Positively Filipino -- and French

 Brendy Monsada,  chef de cuisine  of Left Bank Brasserie in Menlo Park, California (Photo courtesy of Brendy Monsada)

Brendy Monsada, chef de cuisine of Left Bank Brasserie in Menlo Park, California (Photo courtesy of Brendy Monsada)

In Menlo Park's charming downtown there is a quaint French restaurant where one can be transported to Paris and Provence. Left Bank Brasserie, which opened in 1998 serves classic southern French cuisine. It is known for its French chefs, including one of its owners, Chef Roland Passot, who is also the chief culinary officer. Seeing its current chef de cuisine, Brendy Monsada, an amicable Filipino, is a delightful twist in this setting. In true Left Bank fashion, Brendy occasionally steps out of the kitchen to check on his customers and make everyone feel welcome, which is how our party met him.

Brendy, a graduate of the Hotel and Restaurant Management Program at City College of San Francisco, has a professional background that includes a stint as executive chef for the Cliff House Restaurant, a San Francisco main attraction. He also worked with some of the Bay Area’s well-known chefs including Chef Robert Lam of Butterfly and Chef Thomas Ricci of Lapis in San Francisco and superstar chef Michael Mina’s restaurant Arcadia in San Jose. Left Bank restaurants, including branches in Larkspur, Walnut Creek and San Jose, have mainly French chefs running their kitchens, so I asked Brendy how he landed as chef de cuisine in this very French establishment.

Brendy said, “Well, eight years ago when I moved to the South Bay, I wanted to work closer to home. My co-worker at the San Francisco Cliff House, Sebastian, told me to contact Chef Joël Guillon (culinary director of Left Bank) who was at that time looking for a sous chef. So I contacted him and did a ‘tasting and stage’ [the equivalent of an audition for chefs]. Then they rated me and loved my food, as well as my experiences where I’ve worked.”

The rest is a true story of success. With the guidance of Master Chefs Joël and Roland, Brendy eventually eased into becoming executive chef for Left Bank in Menlo Park.

 Brendy Monsada, left, with Master Chefs from France, Chef Joël Guillon, Chef Roland Passot and Chef Jacques Pepin (foreground center). Chef Brendy orchestrated Jacques Pepin’s 75th birthday at Left Bank Menlo Park. (Photo courtesy of Brendy Monsada)

Brendy Monsada, left, with Master Chefs from France, Chef Joël Guillon, Chef Roland Passot and Chef Jacques Pepin (foreground center). Chef Brendy orchestrated Jacques Pepin’s 75th birthday at Left Bank Menlo Park. (Photo courtesy of Brendy Monsada)

What makes this job special? The use of local organic farms to bring the best seasonal ingredients available and the focus on Southern French cuisine, that’s what. Brendy also has the opportunity to go beyond the standard French bistro fare and include his own dishes that feature Provencal flavors with California influences.

What advice can Brendy give to aspiring chefs? “Always love what you do and your team no matter what, work hard, do not give up and always pray to our Lord Jesus Christ for help when you need it. Have faith. Soon you'll be rewarded and you'll be amazed!” he said.

What’s amazing in this scenario can only happen in the San Francisco Bay Area: a French dinner menu with touches of flavors that Brendy had grown up with in his own homeland. How many times do we get to experience Filipino cuisine in a French restaurant? That’s definitely Positively Filipino, and Positively French!


 Manzel Delacruz

Manzel Delacruz

Manzel Delacruz is a freelance writer living in San Francisco.


Seared Maple Leaf Farm Duck

Recipe from Brendy Monsada

 Seared Maple Duck (Photo courtesy of Brendy Monsada)

Seared Maple Duck (Photo courtesy of Brendy Monsada)

Ingredients (per individual serving)

Seared Maple leaf farm Duck Breast 1 for each person
Fresh cherry compote 2 oz.
Roasted nectarine wedges 5 pieces
Chicory lettuce 2 oz.
Rocket Arugula 1 oz
Mache lettuce 2 oz.
Volcanic sea salt 1/4 tsp.
Sherry vinaigrette 1 oz.
Duck demi glaze 1 tsp.

Method

On a hot pan, sear duck breast skin side first until crispy for about 3-4 minutes. Then flip on the side and cook for 2 minutes for medium rare. Set aside and let sit for 2 minutes. Meanwhile, cook nectarine wedges in the pan for 1 minute and place in a mixing bowl to cool with mache lettuce, chicory lettuce, and arugula then dress with sherry vinaigrette, salt and pepper to taste, and toss. On an oval dinner plate arrange salad mix, five pieces of sliced duck breast and place in center of the plate. Place cherry compote then the sliced duck breast. Drizzle sliced duck with duck demi glaze on the center part and sprinkle with volcanic sea salt.


Left Bank Brasserie on 635 Santa Cruz Avenue, Menlo Park will be hosting a Filipino Franco Dinner with a 3-course prix fixe menu served family style ($45 per person) on July 24, 2014. For reservations, please call (650) 473-6543.

 

Left Bank Menlo Park
Filipino Franco Dinner
Thursday, July 24th, 2014

3-course prix fixe, hosted “family style”
45.00 per person

 

MGA INUMIN
(Beverages)

Kalamansi Juice and Pineapple Juice

 

MGA PAMPAGANA
(Appetizers)

PORK BBQ
pineapple juice marinated pork belly and pork tenderloin, sweet chili sauce, pickled papaya salad

ADOBONG MANOK
chicken drummette casserole cooked in soy sauce, sugar cane vinegar, garlic, onions

PANCIT CANTON
traditional stir fried noodles, snow peas, soy kalamansi, carrots, celery, green onions

 

MGA ULAM
(Main Courses)

served with garlic steamed rice

BEEF KALDERETA
slow braised beef short ribs, chef’s special kaldereta spice mix, sweet peas, red pearl onions, bell peppers, pineapple, savory tomato and peanut sauce

PRITONG LAPU-LAPU
deep fried grouper, heirloom tomato salsa, ginger, cilantro, sweet soy and sugar cane vinaigrette dipping sauce

PORK SINIGANG
tamarind spiced braised pork in consommé, taro root, Asian long beans, okra, daikon radish, baby bok choy

 

MGA PANGHIMAGAS
(Desserts)

NILATIKAN
baked sweet rice, caramelized coconut sauce, roasted coconut flakes, latik

HALO-HALO
mixed sweetened fruits and vegetables, crushed ice, colored pearls, purple ube yam and buko salad ice cream