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Boy’s Italian

Former Philippine national treasurer and corporate SVP Eduardo Sergio Edeza opens up his home in Tagaytay for Italian private dinners the local banking sector has been raving about

Since he began his career at the Central Bank of the Philippines, his name, Eduardo Sergio G. Edeza, has been synonymous with banking and finance. But outside the boardroom, the former national treasurer and current food and beverage conglomerate, San Miguel Corp. senior vice president is known for his tortellini and his lovely Italian dinners where he cooks every single dish, from antipasto to deserto.

At home and in the kitchen, the esteemed treasurer and corporate executive is simply Boy. And his VVIP guests—family, friends, bankers, corporate peers, prexies, CEOs—are just guests, very lucky guests.

Boy fell into cooking as a way to fight stress and “bad spaghetti.” “I grew up eating my mom’s homemade spaghetti, the proper Italian spaghetti made with homemade tomato sauce that’s not at all sweet,” he says. He couldn’t find a decent spaghetti place in Manila so he taught himself to make his own, from scratch, using only the best ingredients he could lay his hands on.

  • Boy’s homemade chesnut cheesecake

    Boy’s homemade chesnut cheesecake

  • Sardines and chorizo on squid ink pasta

    Sardines and chorizo on squid ink pasta

  • b
  • Lynne Rosseto Kasper is Boy’s kitchen bible, although the SVP admits he researches recipes online, too

    Lynne Rosseto Kasper is Boy’s kitchen bible, although the SVP admits he researches recipes online, too

  • Apple and pear soup

    Apple and pear soup

  • Roasted chicken drizzled with aged Balsamic vinegar

    Roasted chicken drizzled with aged Balsamic vinegar

(Images by Noel Pabalate)

“Cooking became a stress reliever,” says Boy. “I started when I was at the Central Bank. I bought a cookbook at National Book Store, Lynne Rosseto Kasper’s The Splendid Table, and taught myself how to cook. I love Italian cuisine so I centered on that. Sometimes I’d experiment with local flavors and ingredients but still very Italian, slow cooked and comforting. I’d invite my friends over to be my guinea pigs. Nobody complained. All my friends can attest that anything I serve them, they love.”

Boy devoured the cookbook until he could make everything Italian: pastas, pizzas, sauces, ricotta cheese, even gelato—no shortcuts. The Splendid Table contained recipes from the Emilia-Romagna region, the heartland of northern Italian food, and, incidentally, the region where his paternal grandmother’s family originated. “My Lola Emilia has always told us that her parents were Italian. So I looked up her family name, Baldonado, and it was of Italian origin, a 13th-century name that was given a title of nobility in the 14th century. I guess that’s why we grew up eating really good Italian food at home. I guess that’s where the preference and passion for the cuisine come from. It was in my blood. It was there all along,” he muses.

 

AUTHENTIC ITALIAN COOKING

Every year, Boy invites his closest friends over to his family’s ancestral home in Parañaque on two occasions, his birthday on Sept. 9 and his mom’s birthday on Dec. 24. Everybody on his guest list looks forward to this twice-a-year invitation and on those two days, a room full of businessmen, executives, CEOs, and business journalists can shun, well, business talk and just enjoy each other’s company, while enjoying Boy’s homecooked Italian feast. Some guests would bring food to share. But most guests, if not all, would go home with food from his kitchen.

“I think the most number of people I’ve cooked for in my life was around a hundred people. That was back when I was with Central Bank. It was my birthday and I cooked for all my staff, which was a hundred. I cooked five different pastas the whole day for them. I didn’t want to order because I wanted to cook and serve my food my own way. It was my birthday. Kung ayaw nila, magtiis sila,” he jokes.

But his guests always loved his food. Even the ones he experimented on like his pumpkin and asparagus soup, adobo cooked in balsamic vinegar and Italian salt, chorizo and aligue pasta, tortellini with cheese or meat. He would play around with ingredients and create his own versions of well-loved Italian favorites without losing touch with the two most important aspects of authentic Italian cooking: the process and the ingredients.

“If I can’t grow or make my ingredients myself, I buy them from Italy or from Rustan’s or Santi’s or Terry’s Selection. I don’t scrimp on ingredients. When I cook, I want people [who try my food] to be happy. I want to serve the very best to them. I mean, some people may not notice if I used Bel Paese or Parma ham in their food, but there are people who will. It’s those little details that make a dish special. I like to keep it simple. I don’t like to complicate things with too many ingredients or condiments that mask the real flavors of a dish. So from the few ingredients I work with, I want only the best,” he says.

 

WITH RESERVATIONS

This year, after a lot of nudging and prodding by friends, Boy is finally letting more people try his much loved and sought after Italian dishes by opening up his house in Tagaytay for private dining. He’s calling his place Via Emilia, after his Italian lola and the Emilia-Romagna region where he traces his roots and passion for cooking. “People have always wanted me to cook for them, to eat my food, even those who haven’t tasted it and have just heard about it. But it’s always been all talk. So I decided maybe it’s time for more people to taste it for real. And now I have my Via Emilia,” he says.

Via Emilia is of course his beautiful home in Tagaytay with a small kitchen, filled to the brim with Italian ingredients, a small garden for his herbs and tomatoes, and a dining area that could seat 15 to 20 people. The Saturday he invited Manila Bulletin Lifestyle over for lunch along with his close friends from Central Bank and some guests from Mizuho Bank, he prepared a six-course Italian tasting menu of apple and pear soup; green salad spiced-up with local ingredients—kesong puti, avocado, grapes, roasted pine nuts and pili nuts, and a mango balsamic vinaigrette; a duet plate of truffles con chili pasta and Angus beef with orange durum wheat pasta; sardines and chorizo with squid ink pasta, roasted chicken drizzled with a 30-year-old balsamic vinegar served with Parmigiano risotto; and budino di castagne e ricotta or homemade chestnut ricotta cheesecake for dessert.

The lunch lasted through the late afternoon. Boy cooked and entertained guests with great panache—a lunch scene straight out of an episode of Chef Giada De Laurentiis’ Everyday Italian minus the cheesy script and perpetually dim lighting. He’s been doing this half his life but Boy says he’s still testing the waters. After all, inviting friends over and booking private dinners for strangers are two entirely different things.

“I’m mainly just taking reservations from friends and friends of friends to test the waters. I want the people, outside my inner circle, to like it first and get to know the place. When they like it, they will talk about it, and the reservations will come in. That’s the time I’m going to start putting it up as a real business with all the works, papers, and right pricing.”

Via Emilia is strictly by reservations and on Saturdays only. He will post monthly menus on Facebook and his friends (or Facebook friends) can just check what’s on offer and call him to place reservations.

“What I plan to do is accept reservations twice a month only. I’m the one cooking and I will only cook what I can handle. My January is booked already. When the reservations get overwhelming, I’ll have to go out and get a bigger place,” he beams.

Until then, you’ll have to rely on your contacts and connections or a personal invitation from Mr. Edeza, perhaps, to get into Via Emilia. Besides, there’s one other thing that makes homemade Italian food, the authentic ones at least, so glorious and satisfying—the wait.