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Better days for gourmet gypsy

Chef Waya Araos-Wijangco

Like the heartwarming song “Better Days” by Dianne Reeves, Quezon City’s well-loved restaurant Gourmet Gypsy is bringing back good memories to patrons who missed the cozy atmosphere and soulful cuisine of chef Waya Araos-Wijangco.

And like a prelude to this happy development, friends and habitues of the restaurant cozied up in late August for the “Coming Home Concert,” hosted by singer and stage actor Nar Cabico who is now based in Texas with his partner.

Just like the good old days of the restaurant’s Gourmet Gypsy branch (that permanently closed in May), hearts sighed and memories lingered as it virtually brought its creative community together again to bring cheer to a quarantined audience.

The laidback co-hosting by Nar and chef Waya was matched by unfiltered, “let one’s hair down” performances by seasoned artists Bituin Escalante, Kim Molina and Jerald Napoles and Melvin Sumalinog.

Nar, who rendered his Filipino interpretation of “Better Days,” couldn’t help but get teary-eyed as he confessed that he misses “home” (Gourmet Gypsy) and “family” (the restaurant’s community).

The active chats, greetings and funny comments throughout the show moved him to let out a smile and say in Filipino, “I feel all of you.”

Rebooting the grocery experience

But before this tender moment, Gourmet Gypsy wasn’t spared from the battle to survive in the midst of the economic shock brought by the pandemic. Besides the closure of its Roces branch, the Maginhawa Street restaurant had to adapt to the uncertainty of the times as it devoted its kitchen to serving meals for medical frontliners and, eventually, transitioning its ‘front of house” area as a grocery store.

With stringent protocols, the rebooted Gourmet Gypsy launched a by-appointment store selling ready-to-cook and ready-to-heat Gourmet Gypsy dishes, house-made jams, condiments, baked treats and even family-sized platters to share with loved ones during celebrations and Sunday family meals at home.

True to its spirit of community, its principles of kindness and inclusivity (as Gourmet Gypsy opened employment opportunities for people with special needs), the grocery store also offered artisanal food items, crafts and fresh produce from fellow social entrepreneurs.

At Gourmet Gypsy, chef Waya serves scrumptious meals and soulful cuisine. / Photographscourtesy of Gourmet Gypsy

This new concept was well-received as chef Waya and her team navigate the new-normal through e-commerce while maintaining strict health protocols in their physical shop.

And now, for even better news. On 16 September, Gourmet Gypsy on Maginhawa Street announced it’s now open for private dining. By reservation of up to 10 persons only, patrons can enjoy sitting on the restaurant’s elegant Jerry Araos seats and sculptural tables, while savoring international flavors, and possibly chatting with chef Waya once again.

Private dining services are from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. People may book through (02) 7211-1233 or 0995-382-5736, or through www.gourmetgypsy.ph . Based on the restaurant’s photos on social media, the spaces for reservation are the function rooms and former co-working space of the venue.

Sous vide steak, grilled prawns, paella, porchetta, anyone? There’s more: Gourmet Gypsy’s salads, pasta dishes, keto-baked desserts and refreshing drinks. All these, chef Waya swears, in a deep-cleaned and UVC-sterilized environment.

One can return home to Gourmet Gypsy and let the gentle times roll. But like Reeve’s song, one can’t have these better days “unless you make it through the night.”

Chef Waya and her restaurant is a testament to that Gourmet Gypsy continues to spread goodwill by providing hot meals for locally stranded individuals and other vulnerable communities affected by the lockdown.

Oh, yes, one’s “gotta be patient,” strong-willed, and committed to keeping its team and community healthy and safe like Chef Waya.

Credit belongs to : www.tribune.net.ph

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