Chef Of The Month - Donatella Chua
Donatella Chua is a dynamic foodie entrepreneur who made her mark in 2021, amidst the second year of the pandemic lockdown in the Philippines. It was then she launched Croissant Lady PH, an online bakery with a distinct mission: to bake croissants fresh a-la-minute for each customer, ensuring the bread's quality is both enjoyed and appreciated to its fullest.
Believing in the right of customers to savour premium, freshly-made croissants, Donatella's culinary creativity led to the birth of a unique creation. One afternoon, finding herself craving an ensaymada (a traditional pastry from Mallorca) to accompany her Earl Grey tea, and faced with her usual store being closed due to the pandemic, inspiration struck. She crafted the CROISSAYMADA, a delightful fusion of grated Parmesan cheese, butter, and brown sugar atop a classic French butter croissant. This innovative concoction has since become a signature staple and a celebrated highlight of the Croissant Lady PH menu.
Croissant Lady PH is a charming local bakery and private dining café nestled within the Chef Works Philippines showroom in Makati. We opened our doors in 2022, driven by a passion to serve the freshest croissants and an exclusive tasting menu featuring 8 to 10 varieties. We also host culinary collaborations, providing a platform for aspiring cooks, foodies, and entrepreneurs to launch their menus or culinary dreams. Our establishment, once an online bakery born during the pandemic, has caught the attention of numerous food writers, inviting our online customers to experience our freshly baked croissants first-hand in Makati City, Philippines.
Where does your cooking inspiration come from?
My culinary journey is deeply rooted in my Filipino-Chinese heritage. I am inspired to blend both local and imported premium ingredients, elevating these Asian flavours to appeal to a global palate. We aim to present Filipino-Chinese cuisine in an international or European context, as exemplified by Croissant Lady’s signature dishes.
Our flagship creation is the CROISSAYMADA, a luxuriously flaky ensaymada-style croissant, generously topped with double cheese, brown sugar, and butter. Another popular offering is the CROIBONARA - our take on the classic Italian carbonara, prepared authentically with eggs and seasoned with salt, pepper, and cheese. We add a unique twist by incorporating Taiwanese sausage, known for its smoky, garlicky, and slightly sweet profile. Accompanied by a garlic parmesan French croissant, it's a delightful fusion of flavours. In the absence of Taiwanese sausage, we substitute with Filipino longganisa or bacon.
I'm enthusiastic about cooking for anyone interested in sharing their own food stories and discoveries. For me, cooking is not just about the food; it's also about the interaction and learning from others.
What is your favourite thing to do when not cooking?
When I’m not in the kitchen, my sanctuary is the beautiful beaches of the Philippines. I cherish swimming and immersing myself in the local community, discovering the people and their culinary traditions.
What is your most favourite city and why?
It's challenging to choose just one, as every city offers something unique. However, I have a special fondness for Nice, France. My visit in 2022 was a culinary revelation – from the freshest oysters and cheese to exquisite French baguettes, fish, scallops, and wines. The Côte d'Azur has so much more to explore. My journey also took me to Monaco, where I had the memorable experience of meeting Prince Albert!
My absolute indulgences are fresh seafood and anything chocolate. I just can’t get enough of them!
Well, a bit of humour here – customers not leaving a tip might irk me (just kidding)! In reality, I maintain a very understanding demeanour at work. It’s rare for me to get angry.
What is your favourite thing about your career?
The most rewarding aspect of my career is the opportunity to meet incredible people and forge new friendships. It’s truly enriching.
To the young culinary talents, my advice is to find and nurture your passion and purpose. Commit to working hard towards your dreams. Remember, every great journey starts with that first step. Relish the journey and don’t rush through it!
Discover more about Donatella & Croissant Lady PH.
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