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How a pastry chef created an island-themed spread with an edible Virgin Mary grotto-inspired centerpiece

How a pastry chef created an island-themed spread with an edible Virgin Mary grotto-inspired centerpiece

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  • Bettina Tañedo’s latest work for woman-owned studio Jos Mundo is a religious and delicious experience replete with Filipino sweets and flavors. And yes, you can eat all of them—save for the rocks and the moss
bettina tañedo jos mundo edible spread filipino food

Pastry chef Bettina Tañedo is one of the most exciting talents working in the local food and beverage industry right now. She’s responsible for some of the desserts that guests at one of Asia’s 50 best restaurants this year, Toyo Eatery, can’t stop talking about days after their meal: the leche flan ice cream sprinkled with asin tibuok and a Choco Mallows-inspired dessert made with roselle.

She’s also the mind behind the edible centerpiece at the lifestyle brand Jos Mundo’s two-day summer showroom event “After Hours” earlier this April. The island-themed spread featured bite-sized portions of beloved Filipino merienda inipit in extra virgin olive oil and brown butter flavor, sapin-sapin with peanut, and ube and cheese ensaymada-maritozzi hybrid, alongside intricately woven malunggay, sesame, and charcoal crackers paired with braids and ropes of anchovy butter.

Bettina setting up the edible installation at Jos Apartment

The pièce de résistance is a sculptural pale blue and grey meringue piece inspired by the ubiquitous Virgin Mary grottos scattered around the streets of Manila and a subtle nod to Jos Mundo’s upcoming shoe Grotto.

[READ: How a once-defunct Marikina shoe brand is making a comeback, one archival shoe at a time]

Tañedo’s creations were cradled in a moss and rock installation by interdisciplinary designer JC Manalo called “Likas.” “We tried to capture what felt like a midnight summer, an introduction of darker hues to the season. I thought of treating the gathering area as a “rocky path” with stones and forms clad with moss on the table, and a makeshift small stone formation with the grotto perched atop of it on the corner,” Manalo told

JC’s moss and rock arrangements

With the scene set, Tañedo took care of the small bites that would line the table next to the moss and rocks. “We decided that the pica-pica style of serving food would be fitting for a look at the showroom or taking breaks from dancing to Judd Figuerres’ set,” she said referring to the event’s programming, which included a party attended by friends of the brand.

In this interview, Tañedo talks about her ties with Jos Mundo’s world-building ethos, the research that went into translating a religious structure into an edible piece, and why she’s excited to do more food installations centered around Filipino hospitality.

Hi Bettina! That was a beautiful spread you made for Jos Mundo. How did that project begin?

This project was something [Jos Mundo creative director] Karen Bolilia and I envisioned since early 2022. After I collected images and wrote notes relating to my experience in Manila for Jos Mundo’s story series “Coming To Our Senses,” Karen wished to host me and my creations at the newly launched Jos Apartment. 

It was a yes from me right away, especially after feeling at home in the tropics in their physical space and taking a peek at their summer collection, where I initially based the concept of my work on. 

What was your ideation process like taking off from JC Manalo’s rock and moss installation to choosing which colors, flavors, and textures should go with the collection? One inspiration is the grotto, which is also the name of the new footwear design, too. Can you talk about also your research into that visual?

For the food, I took inspiration from the shapes, feelings, and materials Jos Mundo has been visually expressing through their past and present collections. JC’s rock and moss installation supported the idea we wanted to work with, which was “staying cool in the summer.” From there, we worked with tones like cooling blues, purple, mossy green, and faded yellow. 

That same shade of blue reminded me of the Virgin Mary grottos scattered around the streets of Manila and beyond. They’re usually designed to engage with existing walls or gardens they’re built within. The shape of the grotto provides shade to the sculpture inside and a nestled place of contemplation for people viewing it from outside. Mary is also celebrated in May, the last month of “summer” in the Philippines. It just made sense from all these thoughts to make the sculptural meringue grotto the centerpiece of the table. 

Also interesting is you highlighting Filipino sweets like inipit, sapin-sapin, and ensaymada. What do you love most about these particular things and why did you think it was an apt addition to the spread?

These are merienda staples usually served when hosting friends and family at home. They’re food choices that have been present on the table in a Filipino home or even attending Filipino parties growing up in America. 

I can imagine people being so cautious around the edible pieces asking you or the Jos team if they can indeed eat them. Is the setup refillable? And at what point were people comfortable with just picking pieces off the spread? 

When they’d have people over at the apartment, they would invite them to eat whatever they’d like from the table or even sit around it. It was all edible and ready for replenishment—aside from the accompanying servingware, rock and moss installation, and banana leaves, of course. 

What was the most fun piece to make in that edible centerpiece? The hardest to make?

The most fun pieces to make were the structural crackers. Each cracker was one of a kind in terms of its design and shape. They were either woven or very intricately scored strips of malunggay, activated charcoal, and sesame cracker dough. To pair, some “necklaces” and strips of braided, roped, and beaded anchovy butter. 

The hardest yet also fun to make was probably the meringue grotto. It was tons of fun playing with meringue, piping random textural shapes, and praying that they come out intact after spending hours in the oven and being brought all the way to the Jos Apartment’s table. 

Do you see yourself creating more edible installations in the future? What other themes, Filipino flavors, and executions, are you interested in exploring?

I see endless opportunities in the Philippines for more genuine experiences built around food in the home or while hosting others. There is an abundance of ideas I’ll continue to explore in the realm of whimsical food. I would definitely build a world on the table with JC and for Jos Mundo again as it was a pleasure working with their amazing team of women.

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