A Whimsical Dinner Extravaganza Like No Other
A one-of-a-kind gala of phantasmagoria hosted by Hermès
Anticipation mounted on the Hermès-themed dinner, ‘”Let’s play.” The gala was a much sought-after event, an evening of the unexpected—glorious and grandiose, fun and exciting. Setting the standard for perfection and design, the incomparable Hermès country manager Mario Katigbak truly outdid himself with this recent dinner extravaganza. Mario couldn’t contain himself when I asked for a little peek on what his eye-catching style would be this time around. He said, “Ok, it’s a secret but I’ll tell you. For cocktails, since I found these so tiny and creative, the hors d’oeuvres are mahjong tiles made of white chocolate-covered salmon, casino tokens of Spanish anchovy bavarois, and dominoes of dark chocolate-covered foie gras.”
When the waiter offered me champagne, he asked for my favorite color and with a dropper, changed the color of my champagne. Food, décor, and artistic feats went hand in hand, achieving perfect harmony, setting the pace at the maison for a whimsical, youthful, and inviting 2018. Hermès Paris and the Stores Specialists Inc., headed by its president Anton Huang, celebrated the theme of the year, “Let’s Play,” at Solaire Resort and Casino grand ballroom. Solaire director of communications Joy Wassmer and Hermès marketing and PR manager Angelina Legaspi, along with Mario, welcomed Hermès’ valued clients and partners to a sit-down dinner. For this dinner, Hermès spent four times the amount it usually does for their events.
A fully orchestrated production beyond expectation, the dinner was a most unique dining experience conceptualized by Belgian designer Charles Kaisin, notorious for his surrealist dinners involving dozens of costume changes, fancy props, and accoutrements. Charles’ staff had to train Solaire’s team in his choreographed way of serving. Mario boasted that it was more special than kobe—the Omi wagyu from Japan and truffles from Italy. The dinner in itself was the program, with the guests relishing the surprise that came with each course. With a formidable lineup of 120 guests in two long tables, I was fortunate to have sat beside Solaire Resort and Casino president and chief operating officer Tom Arasi and senior vice president Rajesh Jhingon. Tom was in high spirits as he expressed his enthusiasm over the dinner at the cavernous ballroom, which was the perfect venue for such a production. Each course was ceremoniously presented by waiters in different costumes and presented in an unexpected manner where the guests enjoyed the new experience of playing games, mixing colors, and toying with the fanciful ideas.
Our Philippe Starck ghost chairs had our names printed in the back. The tablecloth had a chessboard design with actual chess pieces as tablescape. A parade of 60 waiters dressed as chess pieces served a plate of Hokkaido scallops with potatoes and caviar and after the gong sounded, they immediately disappeared. Emcee Philippe Levieux asked to unzip the tablecloth and voilà, there was a white mat with a series of numbered dots on it. A toy car with a tray of colored markers rolled down the long table.
The main course was served by 30 waiters in black with bowler hats with neon signs on top. Plates of colorful Hermès paper carousels were on rotating chargers and with the ding of the gong, the waiters pulled them off and revealed cubes of sous-vide Japanese wagyu beef, rock lobster tempura, porcini parcel, asparagus, and Italian truffles.
For the dessert, Levieux requested us to untie the black ribbons and off flew the balloons which carried the Rubik’s cubes. Over 35 chefs headed by Michael Dinges curated this dinner of edible art. The crowd emitted squeals of delight with the blast of confetti which climaxed another amazing Hermès happening.
The Hermès boutique is located in Greenbelt 3 Ayala Center, Makati.
- Mario Katigbak, the author and AA Patawaran
- Anton Huang, president of SSI Group of Companies, with Anna Sobrepena and Nikki Huang.
- Mia Borromeo, Lizzie Razon, Irene Francisco and Frannie Jacinto
- Matio Katigbak and Thomas Arasi, Solaire Resort CEO and President
- Rupert Jacinto, Mellie Ablaza, Louie Ablaza and Helen Ong.
- Catherine Huang and David Endriga
- Czarina Syquia, Ann Puno, Manolyne Taylor and Jun Jun Ablaza
- Isabel Coyuito and Krizia de Zuzuarregi
- Babette Benoit, Mario Katigbak and Thelma San Juan
- Connie Haw, Agile Zamora and Cecile Asprec
- Mel Meer, Nympha Valencia, Maritess Tantoco Enriquez and Renato Enriquez.
- Chesca Lao and Maria Bernardino
- Kathy Huang and Michael Huang.
- Joy Wassmer and Alex de Leon
- Mel Loh, Laurence Loh and Julie Tamayo
- Hayden Kho and Vicki Belo Kho
- Love Marie Escudero
- Nikki Huang and Kathy Huang
- Nenita Tan and Stephanie Tan
- The stark imposing set up at the Hermes Gala dinner at the Solaire
- The release of confetti
- The coordinated orchestration of the appetizer
- Foie Gras appetizer
- The appetizer deck of cards
- Balloons were released when the desert box was untied.
- Neon lights carried by waiters for the main course