Miko Calo on timing and taking her time
Chef Miko Calo’s first restaurant, Metronome, is one of the year’s most anticipated openings. But getting there required a key ingredient: patience.
Food has always inspired Miko Calo. As a chef, she has the pleasure of sharing her life and work experience. The flavors she grew up with, the ingredients from home, the remarkable dishes she had tasted—they’re infused in the menu and dishes of her first restaurant, Metronome.
“The world tells you that you’re ready even when you think you’re not,” she says. So even with budding ideas while training under Joel Robuchon in 2014, Calo puts in the work and goes through the whole ordeal of waiting for the right time to establish her restaurant.
At one point of putting together Metronome, Calo became impatient because the restaurant had to happen—it just had to. But even then, she knew that it’s not just about creating a menu. There’s a backbone to the business and it had to take time.
Metronome’s bar is adorned with black marble countertops and gold racksCreatively, taking her time meant writing down her ideas and having numerous notebooks to review. There were things she had to put on the back burner as soon as she realized they didn't mesh together. Because she wanted to make everything purposeful, she took to detail—from having white plates to assessing seat comfort and breaking down portions of the menu.
Perfect timing led Calo to people who wanted the same things she did, who trusted and supported her vision, and who wanted to execute her ideas. On her experience with her business partners Elbert Cuenca, Alain Borgers, and RJ Galang, she says, “[They] made it feel more grounded. And more real. It gave me an affirmation that my vision can work because there are people who are experiencing the business, who actually believe in it, and they’re like, go ahead.” Left: Theres a clear Art Deco inspiration behind Metronome’s interiors. Right: Haricot vert salad is an untraditional salad with green beansShe recalls a funny story from when they first opened Metronome to paying customers, friends, and family. This was in the beginning stages of the restaurant and they had a full house when the lights went out because of a power outage in the building.
The generator didn’t work and Calo couldn’t send food down. Borgers started talking to guests to say that they might only be able to serve cold dishes. The rest of the team had to use their phones as flashlights and hold them up as Calo plated dishes. Cuenca came into the kitchen, saying he couldn’t figure out why the generator wasn't working. He wasn’t panicking though, because he said these things happen and they will always happen but they will always work out.
Cuenca then left with Patrick Ambo, Metronome’s sous chef, to fix the generator. The lights went back on, nobody left, and they went through the night like nothing even happened. The lamb looks almost woodsy, with the lamb saddle resembling a tree trunkSince then, Calo has become more patient. She has learned to adjust to people’s temperaments because while she wants to be tough on her team, she also needs to be fair. She’s glad to have people in the kitchen with her who are receptive and interested in learning how she does things. They know the basics, the little things that go with classic French technique—cooking terms, handling a knife, doing sabayon or bechamel the right way—but knowing this doesn’t always make up an ideal team. The broth is poured into the halibut dish when servedFor Calo, she expects her staff not just to have a passion for cooking but to also see it as a career, to come in because they want to learn, to train because they want to improve, and to move up not because they just need a job.
“There has to be compassion for your staff, for the people you’re working with, for the people working for your vision.” Words by MJ Estabillo. Photography by Pat Mateo and Argyl Leones.