At Food Choices Alabang Town Center and Food Court Robinsons Place Las Piñas, a simple fast food stall serves delectable dishes cooked up by a culinary master.
Chef Sean McSavaney from Canada has been working in the food service industry in one capacity or another since he was 14. He came to the Philippines in 2008, after two years of discussing possible employment opportunities with an international culinary school.
“I really felt at the time that I wanted to try something new and the prospect of moving across the world seemed very exciting,” recalls Chef Sean.
As president of 1Sycamore Food Ventures, the chef is proud of its brands—Manna Bakery Café, The Coffee Republic, and Elephant Express—as well as its canteen and pantry management services, airline lounge and in-flight supply products, catering service, breads and pastries, customized cakes, coffee booths, party trays, and packed meals.
“Our Manna bakery has delicious breads and pastries, and the coffee in Coffee Republic does not need to hide behind any big brand coffee shop in terms of quality,” he proudly shares.
Elephant Express, on the other hand, evolved from a large seated restaurant to a place with quick service and more accessible menu that everyone can enjoy. Chef Sean says all the menu of the brands are developed by the 1Sycamore team, tested within, and then made into reality when plugged into their operations system.
“Our biggest developers are our clients. The menu is customer-driven in that we hear our customers’ feedback and respond with adjustments and new products based on their needs,” he says.
What makes Elephant Express special is its commitment to authenticity. Chef Sean knows that flavors get changed and diluted through adaptation, and the honest representation of Thai and Vietnamese flavors gives Elephant’s menu an integrity.
Its bestsellers are Tom Yum Soup, Pad Thai, and fried rice dishes, but Chef Sean says that “everything are must-tries.”
After more than 10 years here, Chef Sean does not see a reason to leave. He says he loves the Filipino people who have made him feel welcome from day 1. The simple eater likes inasal, pancit bihon, monggo, tortang talong, humba, and adobo.
With his experience cooking for and dining with Filipinos, he describes them as social diners.
“I think dining out here is a social activity as much as it is an eating experience. Around the country, the most successful places give people what they want—a familiar flavor with good value for money,” says Chef Sean.
It is this very concept to which the chef anchors 1Sycamore—familiar flavor and value for money.
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