Her foray in the farm-to-fork format of Grace Park at One Rockwell has brought Margarita Fores into the spotlight once again. Most may be familiar with how Grace Park came about, and more importantly the kind of comfort food they can expect served to them, most of which boasts of locally grown ingredients sourced from organic farmers and suppliers that Margarita has maintained an open and supportive relationship with. This welcome evolution in the world of local cuisine has also impacted not only the supplier, but also those like us, on the demand end of the scale.
“There’s a whole new change in the restaurant industry. We have become so much more inclusive. Twenty five years ago, people were more possessive about their sources, now they’re more sharing and open,” Margarita enthuses. In fact, she credits fellow chef and restaurateur Colin Mackay (of Sala, Sala Bistro, and People’s Palace), for introducing her to Jejo Jimenez of Malipayon Farms who, she says, “brings us the most beautiful red wine tomatoes.” She adds, “He would also bring us microgreens… and every time I travel I give him seeds, and now he’s even harvesting all kinds of kale and yellow French beans, and he’s happy to bring them to you.”
As Margarita talks about the other farmers she works with, such as Fresh Start Organics, Mt. Kitanlad Farms, Kaibigan Farms to name a few (all of her suppliers are listed at the back of the Grace Park menu), you can denote an overall enthusiasm for having been essential in the formation of this symbiosis. It is important to note that while Margarita never seems to run out of energy— one only need follow her on Instagram to see how she leaps from one event or cause to another—she also happens to be a two-time cancer survivor. “Like the third logo I use for Grace Park (a cloud with rays) this symbolizes heaven to me. It is the opportunity that God has given me to come full circle with my work. Maybe my health challenges made me more conscious of making sure that when you serve food there needs to be a real awareness and strong advocacy that what you are serving either has healing qualities or is grown with protecting the environment in mind.”
Full article by Katrina Holigores, originally published in Food Magazine. Photograph by Shaira Luna.