Meet the chef and owner of Tourne restaurant and try her recipes in your own home.
Try Chef Sandralyn's creations, here: Pinoy-style Ratatouille
Sandralyn Hataway has cooked in kitchens around the world. Born and raised in the Philippines, she grew up helping her mother do the marketing, becoming familiar with all kinds of fresh produce along the way. Hataway's mother operated a karinderya in Mandaluyong City and the young Sandralyn helped in the small business. Summers were spent in their home province, Nueva Ecija, to visit relatives and witness all kinds of harvesting. While she was in college, she worked, but she wasn't cooking yet. "I wanted to work in the kitchen, but the restaurant owner told me I was for the front of the house," recalls the chef.
It was in Spain, working for a catering company, where she finally got to make food. "That company gave me a really good break in the kitchen,” she says. That wasn't all that the company made possible. From Spain, she traveled to Africa. "They had a project in West Africa. We would feed 4,000 people at a time for lunch, people of different nationalities. I met my husband there. We got married and I got pregnant. We moved to the US, but I got bored so I figured I would just go to culinary school and get a formal education in cooking." At Le Cordon Bleu in Dallas, Texas, Hataway had a few favorite classes. "I love history so I really enjoyed studying American regional cuisines. I loved meat fabrication too—I don't want to be a butcher but I like understanding it. I also enjoyed the wine classes, how they focus on the palate.” On top of her schoolwork, Hataway was also apprenticing at Wolfgang Puck Catering.
Last year, Hataway came home and opened the restaurant she had so clearly envisioned while in culinary school. Tourné opened its doors in June 2011, offering a biweekly menu cycle. Why a new menu every two weeks? To showcase the best and freshest ingredients, thereby serving the tastiest dishes. Hataway explains: "Of course, generally, our produce is available in the market all year round. Pero kung tag-araw, mas masarap ang kamatis, mas matamis, mas maraming binibigay sa iyong flavor. We make our ketchup fresh from scratch here at Tourné. Pag maulan, mas maasim, so you have to adjust the recipe. For me, it's about letting the flavors shine." This ingredient-driven approach gives Tourné its identity and makes it a restaurant to visit again and again.
Hataway is also a member and advocate of the Slow Food movement, which began in Italy in 1986 and has since grown worldwide. In the US, Alice Waters is a leading figure of the movement. (Her words on using the best and tastiest ingredients, in fact, grace the corner wall by Tourné's open kitchen, appearing as a playful, colorful mural.)
In the Philippines, the movement has been around since the 1990s according to Hataway. The hallmarks of Slow Food include preparing and cooking food from scratch; using local and fresh ingredients that are grown in sustainable ways; and preserving culinary heritage. Hataway puts it this way: "It's also about preservation of agriculture. If you don’t use kamias and you always buy a pack of something instant to make your soup sour, then people will forget about kamias."
With her passion for Slow Food, it was inevitable that Hataway would have an open kitchen in her restaurant. It wasn't just a design move. "In the morning, there's nothing here. We prepare everything from scratch. We go to the market. You can see that we don't have a microwave. We don't have a giant freezer." Aside from enjoying a freshly prepared meal, diners at Tourné can enjoy watching the chef move about the kitchen, so completely at home in the space.