Chef's Table: With Bruce Ricketts
Cali-raised Chef Bruce Ricketts found success at an early age. From a stint in the edgy kitchen of the Japanese-fusion restaurant, Robot, in the heart of Makati to his intimate degustation nook, Sensei Sushi, in BF Homes, Paranaque, chef “Broosy” has grown and evolved to a dais that has successfully retained a culinary edginess from the Bruce of yesteryear and yet embraces a universal sophistication to be enjoyed by all. In partnership with the Moment Group, he opened Mecha Uma in partnership with the Moment Group and of late the exciting Ooma.
PHILIPPINE TATLER: How do you describe your style of cooking and how did this evolve?
BRUCE RICKETTS: My style of cooking is reflective of whatever ingredients we come to use. How it’s evolved is that now I use a lot of Japanese techniques and show respect to traditional Japanese cuisine.
PT: How does Mecha Uma and/or Ooma fit in with your above-stated philosophy?
BR: These styles have been a way to draw inspiration for both Mecha Uma and Ooma. As we grow and as we learn, and as we evolve, the style will change. We don’t know how the style will be next year. But at the moment, from where I was four years ago to where I am now, we lean towards respecting the product and make it shine and to really make the product stand out.
PT: What is the most challenging meal you have had to prepare?
BR: Every meal, every day is a challenging meal. I don’t really consider comparing recent challenging meals to those from the past but on a daily basis I always find it challenging because every day I’m still as nervous as I was on the first day I had my first tasting. For me, it’s a good thing that I always feel challenged. That way, emotionally, it still feels real. It still feels that it’s something that I’m working very, very hard for on a daily basis.
PT: Who would you like to cook for and what would you serve?
BR: To be honest, I’d like to cook for my dad again. Because before I cooked this way, he passed away. So he would probably be the one. He doesn’t eat raw but I’d make him eat all my sushi.
PT: What is your idea of comfort food?
BR: My girlfriend’s grilled cheese sandwich and her pasta. I love cheap eats. Comfort food for me is like gotong Batangas. Anything soup or broth-based that’s not very heavy tasting.
PT: Do you cook for yourself? Why or why not?
Not as much. I’ve been cooking in the restaurant more than I have at home.
PT: Where do you see the Filipino culinary scene in a couple of years? Are you happy with its progress?
BR: I’ve been so happy with how the Philippine culinary scene has been since I came back 5 years ago. And I just can’t wait to see what will happen next. I think progress in terms of the culinary scene here in Manila, and the Philippines in general, is growing rapidly that it’s almost hard to have a grasp of what’s happening everywhere – too many great things happening, so much local talent emerging and I’m so glad to be part of it. That I was able to witness this growth and say that I was and am still a part of it. Seeing those that have been doing it longer than I have, those who are up and coming – it’s very exciting.
Personally, I wouldn’t have it [the direction of Filipino culinary scene] any other way because at the moment everyone is putting in all the work that needs to be done, from restaurant groups that are looking into what’s happening here and really taking over the underserved market.