Chef of the Week: Colin Mackay
Traditional style and elegant comfort in food, interiors, and service are evident in the three restaurants spearheaded by the Scottish chef Colin Mackay. His restaurants: a fine oasis of classic European-style dishes in the laid-back and sophisticated atmosphere of Sala; a bistro boasting modern emblems from the West in a relaxed setting of quaint city dining at Sala Bistro; and People's Palace Thai, which introduces new renditions of the accustomed choices from the land of smiles.
Gaining a business degree in Hotel and Tourism Studies from the University of Strathclyde in Scotland, United Kingdom, Mackay has three great tastes in the metro inspired by his innate culinary passion, travel experiences and family ties. "My mother cooked so well [but not professionally]. I enjoyed dabbling in the kitchen with her at a young age," says the chef. Previous engagements abroad as a restaurateur, part-time caterer, and working with a wine distribution company also honed the culinary skills of Mackay before he settled in Manila.
He says that the grandest epicurean stepping stone, which shaped his current practices, was his experience with the famous luxury travel train, The Royal Scotsman. "I was overjoyed when I was accepted to join the crew of the luxurious and highly regarded The Royal Scotsman train as the chief steward. The experience influenced my approach to service in the industry," Mackay says.
"All of my restaurants are conceptualized around classic cooking, quality ingredients, and consistency in service," he says. Sala, a fine dining restaurant at the podium level of a secluded building in the heart of Makati, opened in 1997 and has gained patrons with its classy approach. The menu changes regularly, but always features must-try courses infused with the signature flavours of Sala.
Sala Bistro, having a more relaxed ambience at Greenbelt, has a café scenery and comfort-food selection. The restaurant is inclined to a modern way of presenting European food in sharing portions of light meals and pasta, grilled steaks and chips, weekend brunch offerings, and bites for kids.
When People's Palace Thai entered the dining scene in Manila, the chef's main intention in creating the restaurant was to "diversify the offerings." This is where straightforward tastes like the spice, curries, and tropical salads loyal to the Thai's traditional food choices come to an agreeable balance for the local palate.
As a way of giving back, Mackay's restaurants are all joining the Best Restaurants Charity Week on August 16-24, 2013, for the benefit of Down Syndrome Association of the Philippines. Mackay's dining venues have adhered to this charitable event since 2010.
The three restaurants of Mackay render the excitement of gourmands. His concept of providing "great tasting food in a relaxed environment" stays apparent in today's culinary scene, where the chef sayst he "found the city and the people very accommodating."
Mackay has established himself in Manila. With the suggested moniker, "king of cooking," Philippine Tatler Dining is all praises.