A feast of meat

The Café at Hyatt City of Dreams serves American-style meat dishes and more

Photos by Sonny Espiritu

Food served in the United States, meat dishes for instance, are known for being “super-sized” – especially for Philippine or Asian standards.

“But if I serve those (Asian-sized) portions in my restaurant (in Colorado), I wouldn’t be in business,” stressed Beaver Creek and Vail Chophouse restaurants corporate chef and educator Jay McCarthy. And while the Nebraskan chef is not naturally a fan of big portions, he said “it’s just the way it is; I can’t change the market.”

The open-theater kitchens of The Café at Hyatt City of Dreams bustle as the restaurant's culinary team whips up American food favorites for the US food festival dubbed 'From the Land of the Free to the Pearl of the Orient.'

According to Chef McCarthy, in terms of meat, the “typical” big portion weighs around 700 to 750 grams, the average size is around 450 grams, and the small portion is 300 grams. Here in the Philippines, the typical portion size of a slab of juicy steak weighs 250 grams, which in Chef McCarthy’s restaurants is considered a “Kid’s Fillet” and only offered to child diners.

While huge portions of meat, when consumed, say, on a daily basis are not healthy, it’s hard for meat-loving Filipinos to say no to a carnivorous treat once in a while. And for a week (September 12 to 20), The Café at Hyatt City of Dreams brought in chefs McCarthy and Pete Geoghegan (from Cargill) all the way from the US to whip up a spread of sumptuous meals featuring US produce, beverages, and the star of the food festival – US meats.

The food promotion features US produce, beverages and meats.

The two chefs, together with the hotel’s culinary team – led by executive chef Michael Luedtke, executive sous chef Heiko Reichel and Food and Beverage manager Stijn van Leeuwen – took over The Café’s open-theater kitchens for its recently concluded American food festival dubbed “From the Land of the Free to the Pearl of the Orient.”

For the said promotion, Chef McCarthy disclosed that before he flew here in the country (for the third time), he had to correspond with Chef Mike via email to find out the equipment they had in the kitchen considering they had to cook huge cuts of meat, American-style.

And huge they really were.

The Café's Grilling Station fires up with steaks and shrimps.

Chef McCarthy and the rest of the team served Tomahawk Ribeye Steak that came all the way from his hometown, Nebraska. Many guests and diners admitted it was the largest piece of meat they’ve ever seen in their entire lives, and we have to agree. Each slice – sliver or slab – of the huge cut of meat, bone and all, coated in a delightful mix of herbs and spices, was tender and flavored just right – it wasn’t overwhelming, so to speak. “The Tomahawk Ribeye you had is probably one of the best cuts you’ll ever have,” the chef declared after the guests finished their serving of the dish.

There was also the juicy and tender Barbecue Brisket, which Chef McCarthy said was cooked for 12 hours, and the Nebraska Steamship Round, which was basically a whole leg of beef and weighed around 30 kilos. Completing the meaty lineup of Chef McCarthy’s specially-prepared dishes were Cowboy Ribeye, Sugar-Cured Beef Tenderloin, Grilled Striploin and Seared Nebraska Herb, Mushroom Braised Beef Short Ribs, T-Bone, Porterhouse, and Beef Skewers.

Chef Jay McCarthy cuts into a huge Tomahawk Ribeye Steak from Nebraska.

The chef, who channeled his cowboy persona in an authentic cowboy hat and boots, said that Nebraskan beef is “one of the finest beefs in the planet,” which is  why he chose to prepare “unusual cuts” that perfectly showcase the meat. He also attributed the rich taste of US beef to it being corn-fed. “US beef is finished with corn which is different than [beef from] other countries which feed on grass and grain. The corn in the US beef gives it a wonderful richness. It makes it flavorful,” shared Chef McCarthy, whose passion for meat was apparent as he talked about it.

There were also other American favorites such as Classic London Broil with Mac and Cheese, Spinach Artichoke with Crab, Bourbon Crème Brulée, Mile Apple Pie with Vanilla Ice Cream, and Pecan Pie.

(From left) United States Ambassador to the Philippines Philip Goldberg, guest chef Jay McCarthy, The Café's executive chef Michael Luedtke and general manager Stephen Radcliffe

When asked if he adjusted the flavor of the dishes they served during The Café’s US promotion, he said he prepared them in the traditional way but “kinda twisted it a little bit.”

Also gracing the launch of the promotion was US Ambassador to the Philippines Philip Goldberg. The Boston-born diplomat beamed when asked which of the dishes served reminded him of his country: “The beef, of course!” He said the beef, with mashed potatoes and vegetables, perfectly matched the Californian wines (Woodbridge’s Merlot, Zinfandel, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay) that were also offered during the promotion.

Pork Barbecue

Watch out for the 24-hour dining restaurant’s next promotions. We were told The Café is already gearing up for Oktoberfest. The Café is the main dining space at Hyatt City of Dreams Manila and is located at Belle Avenue, City of Dreams Manila Entertainment City, Parañaque. For inquiries and reservations, call (02) 691-1234 ext. 1162 or email [email protected]

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