Solaire executive chef Jonas Juchli creates an afternoon tea menu inspired by Jo Malone scents

Jo Malone opens its 17th boutique in the Philippines at Solaire Resort on Dec. 11.

Solaire executive chef Jonas Juchli had the enviable assignment at the launch of Jo Malone London’s new boutique last week. He and his culinary team were tasked to use the brand’s scents to inspire an afternoon tea menu.

You can imagine the inventiveness that went into it—and the fun! For one, Jo Malone has 187 scents in its perfume base that range from woodsy to citrus, flowery to fruity, opening up so many possibilities for creation. Plus, Jo Malone is such a beloved, familiar brand all over the world that the chef had an audience eager to see and taste what he had created. And they were not disappointed.  

Solaire’s garden cafe Oasis was spruced up with a giant Christmas tree and gingerbread houses and décor in line with the boutique’s holiday opening on Dec. 11 at The Shoppes at Solaire. This is Jo Malone’s 17th boutique in the Philippines since it first opened in 2015 under the Estee Lauder Group of Companies.  

Scent and taste together are probably the two senses that evoke so many emotions and memories that float to the surface when we least expect it, and chef Jonas’ savories and tea sandwiches did just that.

Chocolate-covered goose liver pate lollipops with bits of pear inspired by Jo Malone‘s English Pear and Freesia, the brand’s bestselling fragrance. Photos by Tanya Lara
Tiny ice cream cones flavored with beetroot and filled it with goat cream cheese, inspired by Nectarine Blossom & Honey

“Obviously, talking about senses and food, I can go on for hours and hours but I’m not going to take that time away from you,” the chef quipped. He highlighted instead three canapés that were being passed around before we all sat down for tea and sandwiches.

The first is Jo Malone English Pear and Freesia which, according to Estee Lauder PH country manager Sharyn Wong, is the bestselling scent in the Philippines and the world. It smells like just-ripe pears with white freesia, amber, patchouli and woods. For this, chef Jonas fashioned tiny ice cream cones flavored with beetroot and filled with goat cream cheese.

For Nectarine Blossom & Honey—whose base notes include peach, cassis and acacia honey—his creation was complex in flavor and revolved around indulgent Christmas treats. He made a lollipop filled with goose liver paté and, to stay in the family of stone fruits, he added apricot puree inside the lollipop and dipped it in dark chocolate. The chocolate cover crunching into the softness and rich taste of the paté at every bite was luscious!       

The Gingerbread Biscuit scent was very straightforward and one that the chef enjoyed most doing.  “As you know, combining flavors and scents comes with some challenges, but the easiest one is the Ginger Biscuit,” he said, adding that the scent brought him back to his home, Switzerland, “on a cold winter day and drinking mulled wine.”

Savories and desserts took inspiration from Jo Malone fragrances, such as Fig and Lotus, Sage and Sea Salt, and Basil and Lime.

Immediately, we could imagine ourselves sitting on the porch of a snow-covered chalet, surrounded by a white landscape of pine and fir trees at Christmas, and a glass of warm wine between our hands.

When we actually did sit down for tea, there was more food inspired by our favorite Jo Malone scents. For the Sage and Sea Salt cologne, the chef did Scotch quail egg with black truffle and kataifi nest. Gingerbread Biscuit was turned savory this time: a really tasty and incredibly delicate barramudi ceviche with candied ginger and pea.

The Fig and Lotus scent became a pumpernickel crumble with charred fig wrestling with the saltiness of parma ham. The Lime and Basil scent, my favorite for a long stretch of time (I used to hand-carry candles from abroad when the brand wasn’t yet available here), was turned into a mandarin, lime and basil crisp. And the Wood Sage and Sea Salt was turned into a not-too-sweet ball of smoked milk, chocolate and salted caramel.

To honor Jo Malone’s London roots—and in fact it is one of the UK’s best known global brands—chef Jonah also made roast beef and horseradish, and cheese and chutney finger sandwiches.

The success of the London brand in the Philippines is due in no small measure to its retail partners: Suyen (owned by Ben Chan and family) and SSI (owned by the Tantoco family of Rustan’s), have both built beautiful Jo Malone boutiques in Metro Manila, Cebu and Davao. (The boutique in Solaire is owned by the Suyen Group.)

Estee Lauder Philippines country manager Sharyn Wong (right) and Jo Malone brand general manager Camille Oloan

According to Sharyn Wong, during the pandemic lockdowns when people were doing everything they could to make their homes as comfortable as possible, Jo Malone did especially well. “It helped relieve their stress and it was a part of people’s self-care. Also, when you had friends telling you, ‘Oh, I’m so depressed I can’t travel,’ people gave Jo Malone as gifts. Filipinos are such caring people toward their friends and family, we had a lot of customers gifting Jo Malone during the pandemic.”

Thankfully, we can now visit the physical stores—because there’s nothing quite like waking into a store and your senses suddenly bring back memories of people, places and moments in your life.

Jo Malone opens at The Shoppes at Solaire on December 11.

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