Lexus Drive Is Tasteful Travel And Luxury Made Personal

It was a highly anticipated luxe driving and dining experience, an artistic collaboration by none other than Lexus and Chef Chele Gonzalez.

As my second Lexus Drive experience, I only had high expectations. For this edition, we had the honor of being one of the first few guests in the new Asador Alfonso in Cavite. On top of this, I was looking forward to the luxurious ride in the Lexus RX 500h. How could I not be excited? 

The Lexus RX 500h F SPORT Performance
A hybrid electric, the Lexus RX 500h F SPORT Performance was meticulously crafted with comfort, performance, and safety in mind

The journey began in the BGC Showroom, with Lexus AVP for brand, Jade Sison-Mendoza giving us a glimpse of what to expect. Jade shared that the specially curated driving and dining experience aims to offer something unique, as they “make luxury personal by providing brilliant engineering with human emotions.”

Mary Nadinne Capistrano, Brand Officer, Lexus Philippines, Chef Chele Gonzalez, Pocholo Molina, Brand Manager, Lexus Philippines, and Jade Sison-Mendoza Assistant Vice President, Lexus Philippines

She mentioned the latest edition power line-up that we will be driving to Asador Alfonso. These are the IS, ES, LS, LBX, UX, NX, RZ (their first fully battery electric vehicle), and the RX Executive. 

Electrified Vision

Jade elaborated, “With these electrified cars that we have today, plus the culinary experience we will get to see and taste first–take note you will probably be one of the first people to be experiencing this beautiful architecture that we will be driving towards today ahead of everyone else–we hope today’s tasteful travel will leave you electrified.”

Chef Chele Gonzalez
Chef Chele Gonzalez has opened the doors of the new Asador Alfonso, an authentic Spanish roasting house

She added, “Today’s host for the Lexus Drive is Chef Chele Gonzalez, no less,” referring to the visionary who shares the same values for the brand while making waves in the local restaurant industry because of his creativity, expertise, and all things sensorial. She expounded by saying, “We will be driving to the soft opening of Asador Alfonso, his newest, proudest, and most bespoke restaurant concept of his career that was established to create an amazing dining experience through a curated concept of food, architecture by Carlo Calma, and interior design by Kenneth Cobonpue. So as visionary brands that seek to reinvent the current ideas of the future, Chef Chele and Lexus share the same philosophy, redefining luxury in the Philippines.”

Collaborating With Tastemakers

Further to why Lexus collaborated with Chef Chele, Jade shared, “Lexus continues to collaborate with certain tastemakers for its Lexus Drives highlighting common values of craftsmanship, authenticity, and imaginative technology.

Chef Chele is one of the country’s most celebrated and innovative chefs who continues to push the envelope in offering a culinary experience like no other that simply defines what amazing is all about. Similar to Lexus, the brand offers its guests to experience amazing whether as a passenger or a driver behind the wheel.”

On what sets Asador Alfonso apart, Chef Chele said, “Asador Alfonso gives a unique experience in different aspects, one is the comfortable Spanish food, you know having been cooked in the signature roasted oven that’s imported from Spain. From the authentic ingredients, to the chefs, to the architecture, all encompasses a traditional and contemporary experience.”

Furthermore, Chef Chele believes that “Asador Alfonso is a place to go to relax, eat the best ingredients that you can, cooked in a very fine way but also very healthy and comforting. It’s a mix between traditional and modern cuisine in the most artistic and innovative way.”

What excites Chef Chele the most about this new concept? He said sincerely, “Asador Alfonso is a part of myself, it’s something that connects me again with Spain. Trying to do Spanish cuisine at the highest level. It pushed me and the team to research about what’s happening in the world of Spanish cuisine and we aim that all our customers would feel and appreciate the grandeur that Asador Alfonso brings to the table.”

Exquisitely Designed

While during my first Lexus Drive I chose to drive the IS 300, I found myself longing for a different experience with the RX 500h. This time, I preferred to just sit back and indulge in the lavishness as a passenger princess. A welcome package of refreshing sparkling water and a box of enormous cookies from Deli by Chele teased, but I resolved to wait and save my appetite for the promise of Asador Alfonso’s enticing new menu. The thoughtful gesture speaks of omotenashi, the Lexus brand of unique Japanese hospitality that anticipates even the smallest needs of customers and guests.

The cockpit design was inspired by "tazuna" which is a Japanese term for "using reins to control a horse"
The cockpit design was inspired by “tazuna” which is a Japanese term for “using reins to control a horse”

Also a hybrid electric, the RX 500h F SPORT Performance was meticulously crafted with comfort, performance, and safety in mind. The Tazuna Cockpit instantly caught my attention. I learned that tazuna, the Japanese term for “using reins to control a horse,” is the inspiration for the cockpit design. Lexus says, “Every element is carefully considered for ideal positioning and function to optimize your drive. 

READ ALSO: Sweet Silence: The Wonders Of A Luxuriously Quiet Drive

As expected from Lexus, the ride was silent and serene, so much so that I managed to indulge in a rare nap. Perhaps having done prior research on the safety features of the RX 500h helped as well, knowing that its all-speed Dynamic Radar Cruise Control maintains a safe distance between the vehicle ahead of us. On top of this, the RX features the Bladescan™ Adaptive High-Beam System. The brand explains that this is “an advanced headlight technology that intelligently broadens the range of illumination without hindering oncoming or preceding vehicles.”

Meticulous Master Craftsmanship

Furthermore, “passengers and drivers are treated to surroundings and technology built by Takumi master craftsmen, with an attention to detail that cannot be found elsewhere. As with a menu’s ingredients, the curation of materials rooted in Japanese heritage is essential.”

In addition, Lexus states, “For example, the charismatic styling elements like Sashiko Stitching on the smooth leather is a traditional Japanese technique that dates back to the olden times and is known for its strength. Washi trim inlays have the texture of Japanese sliding doors. Kiriko glass art ornamentation is also a Japanese craft that serves as the inspiration for the interior trim of top-of-the-line Lexus models. It is a deep level of curation like this, as evidenced by the choice of ingredients used in the crafted and artistic dishes and menus of Gonzalez, where Lexus and this renowned chef intersect.”

Anticipatory Hospitality At Its Finest

When asked what makes the RX a luxurious drive, Jade replied, “The all-new Lexus RX is the result of Lexus’s engineers anticipating the demands of this rapidly changing, environment-conscious, and forward-thinking world. This is omotenashi, or anticipatory hospitality, at its finest. The new look, upgraded features, and electrified powertrains will forge a new path to craft a more powerful, stylish, and sustainable Lexus RX.”

She adds that the RX 500h marks a breakthrough in hybrid electric technology, setting it apart from any hybrid model that has gone before. Moreover, Lexus has successfully shifted the focus from optimum efficiency to produce a model with a genuine performance edge, raising the RX’s appeal with customers who desire high-end electrified performance.

For those curious to know the experience of being behind the wheel, Jade revealed, “On the RX 500h F Sport, power is delivered to the wheels via by DIRECT4, an exclusive new Lexus drive force technology. This intelligent all-wheel drive system uses a separate electric motor and inverter to constantly balance the power and torque between the front and rear axles in any driving situation. It automatically and seamlessly adjusts the level of the drive force between the two axles—more quickly and precisely than any mechanical system could.”

Redefined Luxury

We arrived at Asador Alfonso, an impressive white concrete and glass structure inspired by Taal Volcano’s topography. Known as the “Lava Rock” the stunning architectural design mirrors the magnificent lines of the neighboring volcano.

Floor to ceiling picture windows offered vast and picturesque views, drawing us outdoors.

Floor to ceiling picture windows offered vast and picturesque views, drawing us outdoors. The fresh country air and cloudy skies were a most welcome respite from the busy city we just left behind.

Asador Alfonso

On driving the Lexus NX500 F Sport, Chef Chele shared, “What I loved the most, I was able to connect with the car with its latest technology.”

The celebrated chef added, “Lexus is one of the most beautiful car brands that I know, so it’s very exciting to be able to drive a Lexus and enjoy the new technology that they developed. It was a very relaxing and peaceful drive. Overall an unforgettable experience.”

After Chef Chele gave us a personalized guided tour of the four-storey Asador Alfonso, we came together for the most anticipated part of the day’s activities, the spectacular eight-course dinner. 

Sensorial Culinary Experience

The first course was the Espárrago, a white seasonal asparagus from Navarra with celeriac toffee purée and extra virgin olive oil, and a touch of caviar. The delicate flavors and subtle texture of the toffee opened up the palate, intensifying the appetite to long for more. 

White seasonal asparagus from Navarra with celeriac toffee purée and extra virgin olive oil
White seasonal asparagus from Navarra with celeriac toffee purée and extra virgin olive oil

The Pan y Mantequilla or sourdough bread with anchovy butter came next, a delectable prelude to the exquisitely flavorful Jamon de Wagyu, Asador Alfonso’s signature homemade cured A5 Japanese Wagyu Jamon.

Sourdough bread with anchovy butter and Asador Alfonso’s signature homemade cured A5 Japanese Wagyu Jamon

Not to be outdone was the Tosta de Boquerón dish, made of toasted bread with vinegar marinated boquerón topped with parsley and extra virgin olive oil, as well as Matrimonio or wood fired red peppers, boquerón, and Spanish anchovies.  A flat grilled Spanish red prawn or Carabinero, followed, which received accolades for its deliciously addictive smoky flavor.

Tosta de Boquerón and Carabinero

The Setas y Trufa was a wonderful symphony of flavors with sautéed mushrooms, egg yolk, and cured pork jaw, topped with shaved seasonal truffle.

Setas y Trufa
Setas y Trufa

But it was the Lechazo, a slow roasted and tender suckling lamb with its perfectly crisp skin that would steal the show. The chef encouraged guests to drizzle the lamb with a bit of sauce, explaining that the slow roasting process produces natural drippings that form a sauce which brings out the lamb’s flavor.

Slow roasted suckling lamb or Lechazo
Slow roasted suckling lamb or Lechazo

He also shared the tradition of eating the lamb with a refreshing green salad, onion, and sherry vinegar. In addition, he narrated how the potatoes were prepared, Castilian style. This was done by first frying in egg and flour before stewing in the slow roasted lamb drippings. 

Lechazo, Green Salad, and Stewed Potatoes

The family recipe Flan with its elegant silky texture and subtle hints of vanilla was a superb finale to the exceptional tasting menu.

Vanilla Flan
Vanilla Flan

READ ALSO: Asador Alfonso: Spanish Gastronomy In Tagaytay 

A Splendid Finish

Jade wrapped up the exceptional evening applauded by guests as she expressed, “We feel that with Lexus, with what Chele represents, all of the values that his brands represent and what we believe in–he’s a visionary, Lexus believes in visionaries–and we’d like to give all the best and all the luck to the opening of Asador Alfonso.” No doubt, the amazing drive and culinary experience are a beautiful harmony of architecture, food, and electrified vehicles that bring everything together for a Lexus experience like no other.  

Chef Chele Gonzalez at Asador Alfonso

According to Lexus, “Through the combination of master craftsmanship, visionary passion, attention to detail, and hospitality, Chef Chele delivers a complete sensorial culinary experience that inspires the Lexus electrified vision of redefined luxury and a future that feels electric.”

On what they loved most about this edition of Lexus Drive, Jade summed it up: “Lexus and the brand’s guests are always on the hunt for new flavors. We’re dedicated to crafting unforgettable experiences that inspire the strong emotional connections at the heart of true luxury and hospitality through culinary travel. We made our guests experience amazing through the Lexus electrified vehicles they drove to and from the venue and the food served by Chef Chele.”

Chef Chele conculded, “It was very engaging, given that for us to be able to reach Asador Alfonso, you need to go by car.  Taking the Lexus car felt like it was a natural connection between the two brands. Both brands perfectly displayed true craftsmanship and attention to detail which complimented my restaurant’s brand values and purpose.”

Asador Alfonso is open for lunch on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays at 11:30 A.M. as well as dinner at 5:00 P.M. For inquiries and reservations, please call 0917 150 7621 or email [email protected]. You can also follow them on Instagram @AsadorAlfonso. 

Photos courtesy of Lexus Philippines.

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