Saturday, April 2, 2022

Inspired and Creative Dining: Samira by Chele Gonzalez at Anya Resort Tagaytay

Tucked away amidst the lush pineapple fields and gently sloping hills is the newest dining destination down south. And it's a culinary experience that's definitely worth the drive outside of the metro...  

Anya Resorts Tagaytay unveils its newest partnership with one of the country's noted chefs with the opening of Samira by Chele Gonzalez showcasing an elegant tasting menu and creative a la carte offerings. The impressive bamboo-lined path leading to the resort's entrance is just the start in a continuous chain of sensory experiences in one of Tagaytay's prestigious properties. And it's the perfect setting for a memorable dining experience. Nourish your mind, body and palate at Tagaytay's newest dining destination, at Samira by Chele.

Tranquil and serene, Anya Resort Tagaytay is your secluded getaway down south surrounded by verdant hills to soothe and recharge your spirit. Named after the Sanskrit word for "limitless," Anya Resort Tagaytay opens up infinite possibilities for both rest and renewal in idyllic Tagaytay. A proud member of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World, Anya Tagaytay Resort redefines luxury in a resort setting with its elegant Filipino tropical design infused with contemporary touches matched with world-class facilities and amenities for a memorable stay. 

A sanctuary high up in the hills, the 7.2 hectare property offers 78 luxurious suites ideal for families or an intimate escape from the hectic urban pace as well as corporate meetings, events and weddings with its spacious ballrooms and board rooms. The resort also boasts of a well-equipped gym and fitness studio as well as the Niyama Spa with its wide variety of specialty spa treatments to get you back on track (check out their website here at for more detailed information). For your peace of mind, Anya Resort Tagaytay strictly implements all the latest health and safety protocols consistent with the mandatory guidelines for the new normal. 

And soon, Anya Resort Tagaytay is on its way as the next dining destination in Tagaytay with the recent opening of Samira by Chele Gonzalez. The elegant space with its deep wood and earth tones contrasts with the pristine white table linens capped by vibrant splashes of color from its handcrafted plates, and you just know Samira by Chele Gonzalez is special the minute you enter. But it's the man behind the restaurant that sets this apart from the usual dining options in Tagaytay... 

His restaurant at Bonifacio Global City was recently recognized as one of Asia's 50 Best Restaurants for 2022 and for gourmands, Chele Gonzalez needs no further introduction. I first met Jose Luis "Chele" Gonzalez back in 2014 and I knew then he was a true master chef and storyteller spinning flavorful plated tales and memories with each dish. A culinary visionary with an insatiable curiosity, Chele's own travels around the country have allowed him to explore local flavors diving deep into our own culinary heritage. I've always been fascinated with how our local cuisine is experienced and reinterpreted from a foreigner's viewpoint and palate, and Chele never fails to impress with his own modern creative spin on local flavors. 

Down south in Tagaytay, Chele Gonzalez weaves his masterful repertoire of classic and contemporary expressions of modern cuisine in a new setting at one of Tagaytay's finest resorts. Spanish cuisine remains at the core of your dining experience at Samira by Chele Gonzalez in Anya Resort Tagaytay, but leave it to Chele to inject familiar local flavors reimagined in a refreshing new way (for more on Chele Gonzalez, see my posts, The Vask Experience from eight years back, Modern Cuisine. Local Ingredients. Masterfully Executed at Gallery by Chele...from 2018 and Dining in the Next Normal: AT HOME Spanish Signatures Delivered to Your Doorstep Gallery by Chele from two years ago). 

The bar greets you at the entrance, and after a long yet relaxing drive from Manila, a drink becomes the first order of business... 

And just on cue, the welcome drinks were served.

A soothing blend of Proclamation Gin, fresh citrus and the deep and unique nutty hints of mushrooms combine for a palate pleasing libation to begin our culinary experience at Samira by Chele Gonzalez. 'Shrooms in a cocktail? With Chele Gonzalez at the helm, always expect the unexpected.

Samira by Chele Gonzalez offers both indoor and al fresco dining options with views of the impressive property and your front row seat to a stunning sunset. Aptly named, "Samira" in Sanskrit means "wind." One can already imagine the limitless possibilities...

Mikel Arriet, General Manager of Anya Resort Tagaytay, described the process behind the concept for the fine dining restaurant with everything seemingly falling into place with the selection of Chele Gonzalez. A chef himself, Mikel Arriet and Chele Gonzalez shared notes on their experiences at San Sebastian in Spain and thought of bringing that experience to Anya Resort Tagaytay. "I want my starters fun and the main courses honest," recalled Mikel Arriet when he laid out the direction for the new restaurant to Chele Gonzalez. With a shared culinary vision, Samira by Chele Gonzalez soon opened destined to be one of Tagaytay's dining destinations. 

The creative culinary reputation of Chele Gonzalez precedes him with the success of his own restaurant and its recent recognition as one of Asia's 50 Best restaurants. Inspired and inventive as well as playfully unexpected, Chele Gonzalez brings with him his unique take on modern Spanish cuisine consistent with the experience-centric theme and philosophy of Anya Resort Tagaytay. While its formal launch was put on hold due to the global pandemic, Mikel and Chele are now more than ready to welcome you with their lavish curated menu. 

Fun, playful, interactive and creative. For Chele Gonzalez, the new restaurant concept is a part of his own personal culinary journey with new venues to showcase his creativity. With the abundance of fresh local produce Tagaytay is known for, Chele has a colorful palette of flavors on hand to create new culinary expressions at Samira by Chele Gonzalez. The menu is quite complex offering a variety of options highlighting an interactive dining experience with an elegant Tasting Menu and sumptuous Creative A La Carte offerings executed in that distinct personal style of Chele Gonzalez. Classic, traditional and contemporary, Spanish, local and global cuisine, tasty bites and large portions for sharing, Chele Gonzalez creates a menu to complete your escape at Anya Resort Tagaytay.  

And the experience at Anya Resort Tagaytay continues with the intricate starters created by Chele Gonzalez. That day, we sampled the 6-Course Set Menu (P 2,950++ and additional P 1,700++ for wine pairing with a selection from Wine Depot) of Samira by Chele Gonzalez starting with the Amuse Bouche of Seafood Crisp Rice Cracker and Foie Gras and Mango Waffle

The Foie Gras and Mango Waffle is an elegant expression of pure and unrestrained flavors weaving the savory richness of foie gras with the tart sweetness of fresh mangoes in a balanced blend topped on a soft waffle...

...while the textural play of the Seafood Crisp Rice Cracker opens up the palate with fresh, clean briny notes of the day's freshest catch and berries finished with a delectable crunch. The directive for fun, interactive and playful comes to mind with the duo of tasty starters setting the tone for the rest of the experience with more courses still to be served. 

Behind the panoramic glass windows revealing the kitchen, Chele Gonzalez orchestrates the preparation of the next pair of starters as part of the Amuse Bouche of the 6-Course Set Menu adding a theater-like vibe to the experience...

...with the Chorizo Doughnuts, bite-sized balls of dough with savory and smoky chorizo. The comfortingly familiar and mildly sweet doughnuts becomes the perfect vessel for the contrasting yet subtle sharpness of the chorizo. It's this delicate and even nuanced play on flavors in that signature style of Chele Gonzalez that never fails to tease the palate.  

Chele Gonzalez then offers his playful spin on the ubiquitous local bulalo with the Bulalo Tacos, a tasty bite with fork tender and juicy strips of beef simmered for hours topped with fresh herbs and vegetables on a soft taco. The bold beefy notes of the reimagined bulalo punches through with one savory bite.

Small bites have always been a part of Chele's game-winning play book, and this one transforms familiar notes into a new and refreshing flavor experience. Unexpected? Definitely. And that's just for starters.

Pair your 6-Course Set Menu with an extensive wine selection from Wine Depot, just ask Ms. Gaze, the resident sommelier at Samira by Chele Gonzalez for her recommendations.

The second course was then served, the Fresh Coconut Ceviche with snapper cooked in Tiger's Milk with calamansi, coconut, roasted cashews, corn and basil bringing a burst of freshness to the palate. The fresh briny sweetness of the snapper drapes the palate with its clean flavors followed by the creamy hints of coconut with just a whisper of soothing heat. The freshness of the ingredients just brings all the flavors, while the corn, basil and roasted cashews completes the dish. 

Meanwhile, the pace inside the kitchen goes a notch higher for the next dishes in the 6-Course Set Menu...  

The beautifully plated Grilled Octopus with Ali-oli is masterfully executed, delicately charcoal-grilled for subtle smoky hints delivering an added layer of flavor with paprika parmentier, bread crumbs and creamy homemade alioli completing the tasty ensemble.

It's an elegantly simple dish that's easy to mess up, a few more minutes on the charcoal grill can make it chewy but not at Samira by Chele Gonzalez. The mildly firm grilled octopus is soft to the bite, with the paprika parmentier, bread crumbs and ali-oli adding even more flavor and textural contrasts. It's this clearly defined approach to pure flavor that makes even the simplest dishes stand out consistent with Chele's own culinary philosophy.

Another bottle of wine was poured for the next courses... 

...with the Pan-Seared Salmon with citrus mayonnaise and silky smooth cauliflower purée. Served with seasonal vegetables, it's another delicate expression of pure flavors and freshness on a plate. Perfectly seared remaining buttery soft, moist and juicy with a layer of delicately crisp skin, the salmon just melts in your mouth with each bite.

The creamy notes with the subtle zesty hints of the citrus mayonnaise and cauliflower purée combine for a smooth and indulgent finish. The 6-Course Set Menu offers distinct flavors with one dish uniquely different from the previous course using a variety of ingredients. 

The Duck with Porcini and Truffle Risotto is a hearty dish, with the savory richness of the duck mellowed by the pronounced nutty notes from the mushrooms for another satisfying course with moist and creamy vegetable rice. The unique flavors of the duck pair well with the porcini and truffle, and just the right portion size too with one more savory course to be served.  

In between bites and sips, the views of the property feed the eyes for that Anya Resort Tagaytay experience. All the elements, from the resort to the dishes, conspire for a tightly linked chain of continuous experiences at Anya Resort Tagaytay. 

A glass of Cabernet Sauvignon is a cue for the last savory dish...

...the Grilled US Angus Beef Tenderloin with Parmesan mashed potatoes and charred red cabbage with truffles and mushroom jus. Saving the best for last isn't by design at Samira by Chele, as each course from the Amuse Bouche to the savory dishes can stand on its own.  

Grilled to medium rare with a juicy pink center, the US Angus Beef Tenderloin is a fitting finale to a lavish 6-Course Set Menu at Samira by Chele Gonzalez. With bold, beefy notes, the truffles and mushroom jus adds even more flavors to the already flavorful dish. From the tasty starters to the savory courses, diners can enjoy each dish at their own unhurried pace relishing each masterfully executed play on flavors. And it is filling, leaving you happily satisfied. Dining is an integral element to any getaway, and Samira by Chele Gonzalez fits right with the Anya Resort Tagaytay experience. 

But Chele has one more surprise to cap the sumptuous 6-Course Set Menu, one with a playful twist to end your feast on a high note. Drawing inspiration from the popular local delicacy synonymous with the province, the Buko Pie in Textures proves once again his mastery of local flavors. Transformed and reinterpreted, Chele breaks down the flavors to reconstruct the local buko pie into an elegant dessert of contrasting textures with crisp shards, bread crumbs, coconut topped with "latik" ice cream.

It's dishes like this that provides diners a glimpse of the man behind Samira by Chele, and a unique perspective on local flavors as interpreted through a foreigner's palate. 

The menu at Samira by Chele Gonzalez offers a tempting array of options from the 6-Course Set Menu to his lavish Creative A La Carte, Spanish Tapas like his famous Jamon Croquetas and Jamon Iberico Takoyaki along with his own inspired take on the local bulalo with the Cocido Experience served in four sumptuous courses. It's a menu that captures the shared vision of Chele Gonzalez and Anya Resort Tagaytay in a casual yet elegant manner from Bites to Fresh, Cold and Raw Selections, comforting Cuchara or Stews, Rice dishes, hearty Mains and decadent Desserts for that experience-centric theme at Anya Resort Tagaytay.

Playfully unexpected and inspired, leave it to Chele Gonzalez to amaze your palate with his creations.

After a sumptuous lunch, it's a good to time to explore the expansive property. But why walk when you can do it in style...

The multi-tiered pools at Anya Resort Tagaytay complements the sloping contours and landscape of the property for a refreshing way to beat the heat...

...while afternoon yoga classes offer yet another way to relax in the resort. Renewal and wellness remain key elements in the Anya Resort Tagaytay experience, and now you can add a sensory culinary feast prepared by one the country's top chefs to the list. 

Escape, recharge, rejuvenate. Anya Resort Tagaytay means so many things to different people, a tranquil getaway far from the city yet within easy reach...

...a sanctuary to get away from it all, and home away from home. 

Welcome home. And now, it's also the newest fining destination down south in Tagaytay with Samira by Chele Gonzalez.

Samira by Chele Gonzalez is located at Anya Resort Tagaytay, Buenavista Hills Road, Barangay Mag-Asawang Ilat, Tagaytay City or call 8657 1640 and 0917 704 6159 for inquiries. You can also email or visit their website at and scan through their FB Pages at and for more updates.

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