F&B: Close-up With Besay Gonzalez
Philippine Tatler: What was the inspiration for Txanton and how would you describe its concept?
Besay Gonzalez: Txanton was a dream. We wanted to build an extraordinary wine shop that offered special bottles that weren’t readily available else where. And, of course, in the jamon, we found the perfect complicity.
I’m proud to say that Txanton has become a temple for those passionate about wine and jamon – whether they are beginners or connoisseurs. We must also highlight the educational side to this “wine museum” and yet those who come to learn, very much enjoy the cosiness of the space (thanks to the well-integrated dine-in section) which allows diners to discover and explore Txanton’s offerings through the senses and their culinary imagination.
PT: Who designed the interiors and what was the inspiration for such?
BG: This aspect of Txanton was a joint effort. The first renders came from a great professional from Barcelona named Alicia Fernandez. Our architect, Alfred Wieneke made them real, and that was also a big challenge. I still remember our initial gatherings back in 2014 when Txanton was just an abandoned office with a couple of its walls about to collapse.
I think we were all able to combine our ideas and wishes, and develop an unforgettable concept. Though we were quite loyal to the original renderings, we made many changes throughout the construction process because it was not about timing, but about pure perfection.
PT: What was your basis or inspiration for creating Txanton's menu? How has Txanton evolved and what sets it apart from other establishments?
BG: The inspiration of Txanton’s menu comes from two sources. The first one is the jamonerias in Spain where you can try a number of varieties. The second is one of the souls behind Txanton, chef Justo Rodrigo Lopez. A well-experienced and passionate chef, Justo came to the Philippines at the age of 50 with the ambition and the energy of a fresh graduate. I must say, since the first day I met him, I love his passion, honesty and professionalism.
At the beginning, we launched a small curated menu but our goal was clear: to offer and enhance the wine and jamon experience. And then, little by little, we started introducing more dishes in order to please everyone. Our evolution came once we convinced everyone that jamon was the perfect partner to wine on our bill of fare… we will keep doing it well and we will not stop.
Our pitch is high quality Spanish cuisine that is true to its roots. However, we knew we needed an ice breaker as far as the market was concerned. The way we have been playing with the jamon angle, I believe, has turned us into a unique concept in the country. I’m happy to see photos of our Txanton jamon sampler all over the media.
PT: How do you see this type of cuisine evolving in the next few years? Where is Txanton headed?
BG: Well, our cuisine is traditional and the Philippines is a country where people like to stick to traditions. I don’t see the point of evolving into something else. I will never be tired of eating a good Spanish omelette, croquettes or secreto iberico so our goal is and always will be clear. We see consistency as our way of evolving. That said, our expansion plans include little TXN Corners in malls that will sell our jamon around the country.
PT: What would you like to tell people when they are eating your food and enjoying your wine?
BG: To tell us at the end which one they liked the most and which one they liked the least. It’s nice because, especially with jamon, most of the time no one ever agrees. It’s funny to see a family sampling the jamon and every member will have a different favourite.
PT: What challenges have you encountered in the F&B industry that have made an impact on you?
BG: The biggest challenge in the F&B industry is creating a great team. When you think you have it…Boom! You don’t. Ha ha! And that’s the truth. Everything here is so fast and it’s hard to find passionate people who are fully loyal and who share your energy and beliefs. But, from time to time, you’re lucky to get it and it’s so good. I think we are there right now and we would be nothing without a super team.
PT: Do you have any updates? What’s new at Txanton?
BG: Yes we have new menu and new set menus for private events.
PT: What's next for your group?
BG: Keep the business growing in all possible ways. We want to develop the carving services for private events. Our professional carvers are very good! This is a big asset that complements every kind of celebration.