Chef Jessie Whips Up Food For The Soul, Too

5-YEAR MILESTONE Chef Jessie and her kitchen team get a blessing from Fr. Louie Punzalan, SVD at Holy Trinity Chapel of Chef Jessie’s Place, which celebrated its fifth anniversary on Dec. 8 —Margaux Salcedo

Chef Jessie Rockwell has many patrons, but did you know that she also has her own building called Chef Jessie’s Place in Makati?

This is a five-level building complete with a chapel on the fourth floor, an al fresco deck on the fifth floor, an events space on the third floor that can accommodate 150 guests, two private dining spaces on the second floor for parties of 20 to 40 pax, and a cafe and patisserie on the ground floor.

While Chef’s Jessie’s Place had opened in 2018, operations were suspended during the pandemic. Nevertheless, the space became their commissary for all of their takeout and private dining operations.

Last Friday, Dec. 8, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, Chef Jessie’s Place turned five years old!

Of course, the Pope’s chef—as she was nicknamed after being chosen to cater for Pope Francis during his Apostolic Visit in 2015—celebrated with a mass presided by Fr. Louie Punzalan, SVD at her very own Holy Trinity Chapel. It was blessed in 2018 by His Eminence Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, who was Archbishop of Manila at the time.

I asked Chef Jessie why she had chosen to have a chapel in her building. “It is my way of thanking God,” she replied. “I want this place to feel the presence of God.”

Indeed, Chef Jessie does not only fill her guests’ stomachs but also feeds their souls.

At Chef Jessie Rockwell, when you open the menu, it reads, “God created food for our good and His glory. It should be enjoyed.”

You can enjoy this food now at Chef Jessie’s Coffee Shop (located on the ground floor of Chef Jessie’s Place), which has items that are unique and more laid-back from the Rockwell menu.

The menu includes classic Pinoy soups such as bulalo, halaan, suam na mais with shrimps and spinach, and sinigang na ulo ng salmon. They also have classic Pinoy dishes, such as lechon kawali served with laing, pork chops, pork barbecue (with chestnut), chicken adobo (with kesong puti), adobong pusit and bangus or grilled milkfish.

Of course, Chef Jessie’s high-brow clientele will be pleased to learn that she also serves ribeye steak, filet mignon and her world-renowned Chilean sea bass.

I have hosted a few events at Chef Jessie’s Place, including my birthday lunch for 12 pax when it first opened, my mom’s 70th birthday for 80 pax, among other events. What I love most, aside from the reliably delicious food, is that there is a chapel for a more poignant and meaningful mass with family and friends, and that sometimes you practically have the whole building to yourself!

Also, as she has catered for almost all great occasions—from Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation to FIBA (International Basketball Federation) to the inaugurations of Presidents (plural as she has catered at the inauguration of several of them), to the installation of cardinals (again, plural as she has catered at the installation of several cardinals as well as bishops!), to becoming the personal chef of Pope Francis during his Apostolic Visit and more—Chef Jessie knows how to be creative and adjust to the client’s needs and wishes. During my last visit to her, I saw her creating a Barbie-inspired menu! For FIBA, she created ‘healthy’ snacks. At a dinner hosted by Ernie and Lourdes Fajardo, she created an “Around the World” menu. And the list goes on!

Chef Jessie’s Coffee Shop on Pililia Cor. Obrero and Tanay Sts. in Makati is now open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. They also have her famous pandesal sandwiches and cakes here, available to go. And don’t miss out on the Pasta a la Jessie!