Manila Reviews and Manila Blogs were invited to a mini cooking demonstration at the Mandarin Oriental, Makati. Asian Food Channel (represented by Maria Brown, cofounder and managing director for acquisitions and programming of the AFC) together with Mandarin Oriental presented Chef Robert Rainford, the grill expert of the show “License to Grill” to hold a cooking demo. Born in Jamaica, currently residing in Canada, this chef dubbed as “the barbeque guy”, Robert Rainford made his way to Asia last 2009. He visited three countries in this tour: Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines. This popular chef arrived in Manila last July 24 and will be leaving the country for other Asian countries on July 26. With the short stint that he had in this prestigious hotel, we learned a lot from his grilling demonstration.

Chef Robert Rainford

Chef Robert Rainford at the Paseo Uno, Mandarin Oriental

In this article, we would like to share with you the top five things we learned from Chef Robert Rainford while watching him at the Paseo Uno, Mandarin Oriental. He is a teacher at George Brown University, and the way he spoke and taught us about grilling showed his passion and expertise, not only in cooking but also in teaching.

Chef Robert Rainford Picture

Lesson 1: The first thing we learned is how to distinguish the “doneness” of a meat being cooked. We always thought that the only way to determine the “doneness” of the meat is by cutting and checking it. Little did we know that Chef Robert Rainford of the Asian Food Channel had another way of doing it by measuring its tenderness. All you have to do is press your thumb with the four other fingers, then, check the softness of the palm of your hand near the edge of your thumb. Here are some pictures to help you:

Rare Meat

Same tenderness as Rare Meat

Medium rare

Same tenderness as Medium rare


Same tenderness as Medium

Medium Well Done

Same tenderness as Medium Well

Well Done

Same tenderness of Well Done

It was quite a unique learning and we saw even the chefs at Mandarin Oriental trying the new technique!

Chef Robert Rainford with Mandarin Oriental chefs

Chef Robert Rainford with Mandarin Oriental chefs

Lesson 2: When grilling and searing, keep two parts of the grill at different temperatures. One should be kept at a very high temparature for searing and the other one should be at a medium (lower) temperature to further cook the meat. Grilling should take time and should be enjoyed. Although at times, when push comes to shove, there are ways to make dishes cook instantly while grilling. Chef Robert Rainford advised us that we can use some pans to cover the meat that we are grilling and it will hasten the cooking process, the same way food is cooked in a convection oven.

Chef Robert Rainford Grill

Chef Robert Rainford Grill

Lesson 3: When you’re grilling meat, stop cooking a degree before the doneness ordered. In other words, if you want your meat well done, stop grilling at medium well. It won’t be piping hot but it would be cooked better.

Lesson 4: The type of marinade that you use depends on your flavor profile. He wanted the chicken he was grilling to be hot so Chef Robert Rainson used cayenne and chili for the marinade. For the pork that he cooked, he used dark beer for the marinade. The dark beer, according to him, gives caramel tones to the meat. There is no right or perfect marinade mix – it depends on your flavor profile.

Chef Robert Rainford Marinade

Chef Robert Rainford Marinade

Lesson 5: The most important thing that I learned is that you really should develop a passion for cooking if you want to improve. He advises us all to take short courses or cooking lessons. These would all help us understand the reasons for what we do when we cook. Knowing the “why’s” separates a great cook from the good ones.

Chef Robert Rainford of Asia Food Channel

Chef Robert Rainford radiated passion – passion for cooking that I have never seen my entire life. These are the five lessons that we have learned from this expert chef who’s also quite an effective crowd charmer. He even acknowledged the organizers, Mandarin Oriental’s head chef, and everyone who made the event possible. It is no wonder that he has quite a following. The event was energizing and very interesting.

Chef Robert Rainford with Mandarin Oriental Makati's Head Chef

Chef Robert Rainford with Mandarin Oriental Makati's Head Chef

Although we weren’t able to enjoy the chef’s cooking, we did enjoy the sumptuous buffet of Mandarin Oriental’s Paseo Uno. The food wasn’t overwhelming and everything was cooked to buffet perfection. What sets it apart from the other buffets is the foie gras section where they serve pan-seared foie gras – you can get as much as you want (or at least as much as your arteries can take). Because of this, I’m sure to come back to Paseo Uno even without any star chef presentation.

Paseo Uno Mandarin Oriental Makati Buffet

BONUS LESSONS from Chef Robert Rainford of the Asian Food Channel:
#1: Remember also to use fresh spices. If you have spices that are more than 6 months old, be sure to throw these away. When grilling, only the freshest ingredients should be used.

#2: Don’t cut the meat right after grilling. You’ll spill the juices. Just let it rest so the meat soaks in its juices. It will give you a much more flavorful steak.

Chef Robert Rainford with Manila Reviews

Chef Robert Rainford with Manila Reviews

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