Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Mesmerized by Van Gogh is Bipolar

by Shawi Cortez

It's 3am, and I just laid down to sleep. Spent the last hour googling about Jetro Rafael, the man behind Van Gogh is Bipolar (VGIB)--an unconventional restaurant serving mood-altering healing food.

The night before, my friend KC and I dined at Jetro's home-turned-restaurant, and we just can't get over the experience. Something about spending a few hours there left a lasting impact that we were moved to unleash our own inner creativity.

It was a Sunday. We planned on getting a light evening meal, and help ourselves to some mood tea.

VGIB has a seating area in the garden, hammocks, and a door frame lined with unpaired shoes. On a table, are frames of affirmations.

As we prepared to go in, we took our shoes off and left it on the floor. Others have opted to park theirs inside a "fridge".

We were greeted by a lady. With a low, soothing voice, she asked "How can I help you today?"

KC and I just smiled.

She had to repeat it for the second time, "How can I help you today?"

I stammered, "Uh, we'd like to dine in here please."

Room filled with flags and travel mementos

We were shown our seats on the Red Wall. Later, she came back with the order forms which we had to fill, and explained the main courses: vegetarian, pescatarian, and meat. We chose lamb. It was a set menu. For P777, the mains came in with a bowl of soup, drinks and dessert.

Courtney Love's Potion (refreshing lemongrass drink)
and Virginia Woolf's Tears (soup)

Everything is self-service here. The lady, let's call her the consigliere, handed us a black book which we were to read. The rituals and the instructions are there.

pot of mood tea and the book of rituals

Jetro Rafael's mood altering healing diet
makes you happy and calm.

. Help yourself to some mood tea.

Do you want to be calm? Do you need an upper?
Or just happy chill?

Serve yourself and get a teapot you fancy.

. Place your order in the kitchen window.. Get your food there.

For dessert, we had the sinful
 Mel Gibson's Darkest Sin

. Put back the soiled dishes there.. Take a hat to wear.

What hat are you wearing today?

. Healing ritual for the body : sip coconut oil from the test tubes

It's surprisingly delectable.
coconut oil + raw honey 

. Healing ritual for the body : alkalize by drinking water + baking soda from a flask

. Healing ritual for the soul : release your darkest secrets

Write them in the dark room

. Healing ritual for the soul : express your love on the Red Wall

left my mark

. and Honor Thy Most Beloved One…

Even paying your bill is self-service. Put the money in a large jar. If you have change, take it from the wrought iron. Need coins? Take it from the garbage bin.

This is where you drop your payment.
No cashier needed. Just honesty system.

The room is in fact designed for you to move around and not to stay in your seat. It is divided into sections-- Red Wall, Heal Yourself shots, Mood Tea, Dark Room et cetera.

We finished our meal, and performed the self-healing rituals. KC and I lingered just a bit longer than the other diners. We took time to read the poems neatly framed on one of the counters. We discovered that he printed out some of his backpack travel photos to turn into postcards. Of which, proceeds went to support the education of less-fortunate children.

So here is a guy, who turned his curse into a gift, who is not ashamed of his identity, and never stopped creating--runs a restaurant, paints, takes photos, and gives back to the community. Who wouldn't be drawn to that raw honesty and purity of heart?

Written on the wall, is the phrase : "You've only got one life to live. Please make sure to live it well."

This resonated with me.

He's living the life I dream of. And nothing stopped him. Not his disorder.

As the consigliere was doing her rounds, asking diners about the food, she paused at our table and asked how we heard about Van Gogh is Bipolar.

"Friends," we replied.

To which, she said, "What took you so long?"

We were left speechless.

I mulled over the question. I did not have an excuse nor an answer.

I believe our timing was perfect.

Yes, we lingered. But we left with a desire to chase after our dreams.

with the man himself, Chef Jetro Vin Rafael

Inner Courtyard
154 Maginhawa St
Sikatuna Village, QC


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