MEGA Ball 2024: Fashion And Food Take Center Stage

The MEGA Ball 2024 spotlights nine of the country’s finest chefs through a collaborative and innovative menu inspired by local favorites. 

While similarities between fashion and the cuisine are not immediately apparent, the two share a lot more in common than one would expect. For starters, you are what you eat and wear—at least to some extent. Both food and clothes have the ability to positively transform the lives of people. Food can nourish the body and provide unforgettable memories, while fashion can enhance the way one looks and feels about themselves. This is the central concept that lies at the heart of the MEGA Ball 2024.

L-R: Lee Watson, Walter Manzke, Chele Gonzalez, Stephan Duhesme, Josh Boutwood, Janine Recto, Ana Lorenzana de Ocampo, Peewee Reyes-Isidro, Ramon-Carlo Galicia, Miko Calo, Margarita Forés, Margie Manzke, and Joris Rycken

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The annual event—which takes place every Philippine Independence Day—has always strived to spotlight the contributions of exemplary individuals in the fields of art, fashion, and culture. As such, this year’s edition recognizes the talents of nine Pinoy Pride awardees who have displayed brilliance in the food and beverage industry through a multi-sensory event that merges culinary delights with the glamor of fashion. 

Excellence in the Field

It was none other than Wildflour president and CEO Ana Lorenzana de Ocampo,  who led the highly-anticipated event. The visionary restaurateur had selected the event’s nine honorees, not only bringing attention to their contributions in elevating the local dining scene, but also emphasizing the significance of supporting the country’s food producers. 

The nine honorees include renowned bar consultant Lee Watson, and chefs Walter Manzke, Chele Gonzalez, Margarita Forés, Miko Calo, Stephan Duhesme, Josh Boutwood, Joris Rycken, and James Beard awardee for Best Pastry Chef 2023, Margie Manzke.

The nine honorees for MEGA Ball 2024 (L-R): Lee Watson, Walter Manzke, Chele Gonzalez, Stephan Duhesme, Josh Boutwood, Miko Calo, Margarita Forés, Margie Manzke, and Joris Rycken

Showcasing their groundbreaking talent, each of the chefs created stunning dishes for the event, forming a collaborative menu that provided fresh twists to local ingredients and delicacies for guests to enjoy. 

William Grant & Sons also served up a variety of cocktails that take inspiration from Filipino breakfast, lunch, and dinner. These include the Coffee Old Fashioned [Monkey Shoulder Blended Malt Whisky, cold brew syrup, chocolate bitters, and burnt orange peel]; Green Apple Fizz [Glenfiddich 12 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky, green apple juice, fresh lime juice, saline solution, and tonic water]; and Sparkling Cucumber [Hendrick’s Gin, lemon, elderflower syrup, and champagne]. 

A Dining Experience to Remember 


The Terno [a traditional dress typically worn by Filipino women] aperitif by Lee Watson kicked off the impressive MEGA Ball 2024 menu with a mix of Arc Black Bamboo Gin, clarified lime solution, pandan syrup, and avocado and white balsamic EVOO, featuring a garnish of siling labuyo [red chili] caviar and calamansi [a type of Philippine lime] caviar. It is just one of the many sophisticated concoctions from the mind of Watson, who has spent his career as a bar consultant for some of the country’s finest resorts and restaurants.

Bread and Butter

Chef Walter Manzke of Wildflour created the Pandan at Tinapay [Pandan and Bread] dish to whet the appetite, with milk bread and an avocado pandan butter spread. The simple yet enticing dish was emblematic of the skills he developed in renowned kitchens across Europe, including Spain’s famous El Bulli. 

First Course

Chef Walter Manzke collaborated with Chef Chele Gonzalez for the menu’s first course, Pintos.

Made up of coconut, corn and banana panna cotta, Kaluga caviar, and blue swimmer crab and aligue [the crab’s fat], the dish exemplified Gonzalez’s knack for utilizing local ingredients to create exciting flavor combinations—something guests will always notice in his popular restaurants like Gallery by Chele, Enye, and Asador Alfonso.

Second Course

Two of the country’s most-lauded women chefs, Margarita Forés and Miko Calo, collaborated on the second course Ulang at Tinigib [ulang being a type of freshwater prawn and tinigib being Visayan white corn].

As the name suggests, the dish was composed of Bulacan River Prawn, beppino castelmagno Tinigib polenta, sauce matelote, and Philippine fish maw. Guests can expect no less from Forés (a master of Italian cuisine and the 2016 awardee of Asia’s Best Female Chef) and Calo (who began her career in the kitchens of the legendary French chef Joel Robuchon). 

Chefs Margarita Forés and Miko Calo

Third Course

The third course, Adobong Itik sa Gata [duck adobo in coconut milk], was chefs Josh Boutwood and Stephan Duhesme’s innovative spin on the beloved adobo dish [a meat dish usually marinated in garlic, vinegar, soy sauce, and bay leaves].

The course was made up of roasted dry-aged duck with wild honey glaze, fermented root vegetable paste, and duck fat cauliflower puree. It’s the same brilliant creativity one will find in the kitchens of Boutwood (who heads Helm, Ember, Savage, and The Test Kitchen) and Duhesme (the culinary extraordinaire behind Metiz, one of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants in 2023). 

Palate Cleanser 

Guests also enjoyed a refreshing palate cleanser between the courses, courtesy of Chef Joris Rycken, who has been leading the Shangri-La Group’s dining and hospitality to new heights for years with his culinary expertise. Sorbetes na Bayabas at Calamansi [Guava and Calamansi Sorbet] made for a cool treat with the sweetness and tartness of bayabas [guava] and calamansi. 

Fourth Course

Rycken’s Kalderetang Buntot ng Baka [Ox Tail Kaldereta] ended the line-up of main courses with a bang through an indulgent dish of tender braised beef oxtail with rich savory sauce, as well as garnishes of bell pepper and sitaw [string beans] in the style of the country’s beloved meat stew, kaldereta


Given how many Filipinos possess a love for all things sweet, no tasting experience is complete without a stellar dessert from Chef Margie Manzke, a finalist of the James Beard Awards [among the culinary world’s equivalents to the Oscars] for six consecutive years and the 2023 winner of its Outstanding Pastry Chef category. Her spectacular treat for the MEGA Ball 2024 was Mangga at Tsokolate [Mango and Chocolate], a delightful dish of toasted brown rice, white chocolate cremeux, and mango. 


Guests capped off their hearty gustatory experience with yet another tasty creation from Lee Watson: the Barong [a traditional long-sleeved shirt typically worn by Filipino men] digestif. The beverage was made up of Crows Nest Agrikultura White Rum, dried mango-infused Blanc Vermouth, Proudly Promdi Pedronan Tapuey Wine, and Suze Bittersweet Liqueur, with a garnish of Auro white chocolate that tied everything together. 

The entire MEGA Ball 2024 menu offered more than sumptuous delicacies for guests to sink their teeth into. It also served as a testament to the magic that its honorees create in their kitchens and beyond, which much like fashion, has the ability to make every person’s life a more beautiful one. 

Photos courtesy of MEGA.

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