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Delicious, healthy and fast intersect at Pay-Less Market Deli

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Delicious, healthy and fast intersect at Pay-Less Market Deli

FRESH POKE: The Poke Bar at the Pay-less Market Deli is in high production, offering nearly a dozen varieties of freshly made poke. The Spicy Tuna Poke is made with seared tuna and is sold for $12 per pound. This poke packs a real kick of spice. Norman M. Taruc/The Guam Daily Post

The Market Fresh Deli at Pay-Less Supermarket in Maite, open now for a month, is delighting customers with a vast array of hot and cold choices.

“It’s been a huge success,” said the store’s manager Alyssa Leon Guerrero.

At the center of that success is executive chef Dennis Salenga, a name many may know from the local culinary scene. 

Delicious, healthy and fast intersect at Pay-Less Market Deli

BEHIND THE BAR: Award-winning chef Dennis Salenga, center, has launched the ambitious Market Deli at the new Pay-Less Supermarket in Maite. Part of the kitchen team delivering the food includes, from left: Juliana Miranda, line cook; Jamie Nepomucino, line cook; Shazel Tagle, line cook; Boddy Boy Ramirez, line cook; Melchor Peralta, demi chef; Salenga, executive chef; Aundre Calceta, line cook; Harry Osana, demi chef; Jimmy Tuano, demi chef; Richelle Padigos, pastry chef; Ferido Evaristo, assistant to the head baker. Norman M. Taruc/The Guam Daily Post

Salenga isn't a stranger to the pressure of serving quality food to thousands in one day. He has decades of experience in fine dining – Salenga has worked side-by-side with world famous chefs. And he is a star in his own right as winner of Chef of the Year at the Excellence in Culinary Arts and Restaurants Award in 2018.

Salenga has taken his keen eye for quality and flair for cuisine and made the Market Fresh Deli a place where delicious and healthy meet fast and easy.

Walking the line at the deli, Salenga gestured to the steaming Hot-Food to Go (one choice for $7, two for $8.75, and three for $10.50).

Delicious, healthy and fast intersect at Pay-Less Market Deli

CRUNCHY FRIED DELICIOUS: The Signature Crispy Chicken is a staple of the one, two or three choice plates. A one choice is sold for $7, the two choice is $8.75 and the three choice goes for $10.50. Norman M. Taruc/The Guam Daily Post

Delicious, healthy and fast intersect at Pay-Less Market Deli

21 DISHES: The Market Deli Signature Meatloaf with gravy is one of an array of 21 dishes that the deli offers every day. Norman M. Taruc/The Guam Daily Post

“You have to have a lot spread,” he said, noting the variety of foods. Everyday favorites like meatloaf and fried chicken, mashed potatoes, gravy and stir-fried vegetable are some of the choices on the revolving menu. But Salenga has made sure to add local dishes like kadu and tinaktak to rotation, and even tofu dishes for the plant-based eaters.

Melting pot

Variety is really the name of the game at Market Fresh Deli – a cue Salenga has taken from the “melting pot” of cultures that make up the population of Guam.

“Let’s make what the customer wants,” said Salenga, smiling with a flash of dimples. 

Delicious, healthy and fast intersect at Pay-Less Market Deli

BAKING THE GOODS: Market Deli Head Baker Lorenzo Diaz holds a French baguette that sells for $4.50. The herb version is $5. Norman M. Taruc/The Guam Daily Post 

And there's a lot to want. Down the counter from the steaming hot plates that serve a quick breakfast, lunch or early dinner, is a shelf filled with different breads in loafs, twists and baguettes; and another shelf filled with cookies of chocolate, velvet, oatmeal and other varieties. Then at the corner is the shelf that displays an assortment of freshly made cakes and pies.

Delicious, healthy and fast intersect at Pay-Less Market Deli

HONEY MAKES IT BETTER: Pastry Chef Richelle Padigos presents a tray of the cinnamon rolls with warm rum honey ($1 ea.). 

Delicious, healthy and fast intersect at Pay-Less Market Deli

BACON SAVORY DONUTS: Six types of donuts, like these White Glazed Bacon donuts, are sold for $6 per half dozen, $11.50 per dozen or $1.25 apiece. Norman M. Taruc/The Guam Daily Post

Salenga has a crew of pastry chefs creating these mouth-watering delicacies – many of which were particularly popular during Thanksgiving. 

He runs a kitchen that takes up a large corner of the 45,660-square-foot Pay-Less store in Maite easily capable of catering a dinner for 1,000 people. He walks though his domain, efficiently checking on dishes as they go through various stages of preparation. He barely breaks a sweat – always projecting a cool exterior that belies the frenetic pace he keeps.

Elemental level 

Making what the customer wants takes a lot of hard work, and a bit of intuition.

“You have to make sure each element, each detail of the recipe is perfect. Sometimes I have read their minds,” he said with a laugh.

Delicious, healthy and fast intersect at Pay-Less Market Deli

SALMON: In the Salmon Poketini Style ($14 per pound), the fish is cubed smaller than usual. Norman M. Taruc/The Guam Daily Post

Delicious, healthy and fast intersect at Pay-Less Market Deli

SNOW CRAB: The luxurious Soy Chimichurri Snow Crab Poke sells for $9 per pound. Norman M. Taruc/The Guam Daily Post

Past the hot dishes lies the poke bar boasting a bright and colorful variety of crab, octopus, marlin, salmon and original tuna poke.

“You have to make a recipe, so they fall in love. It’s all about the balance of the elements. It’s all about mixing it up,” Salenga said. “We want to make sure they keep coming back because of the quality.”

Delicious, healthy and fast intersect at Pay-Less Market Deli

SANDWICH ANYONE: The Pastrami Dynamite ($9.99) is topped with Swiss cheese and creamy horseradish. Norman M. Taruc/The Guam Daily Post

Further down the line imported high-grade meats like pastrami, corn beef, roast turkey and honey ham and Swiss, American, and provolone cheeses are on the ready to be made into the sandwich of your choice atop a slice of freshly baked bread.

Nestled in the corner of the chain's biggest store definitely has its advantages said Salenga. Fresh meats produce and hundreds of ingredients are at the tip of his fingers.

“They are on the spot. You don’t a have to wait for a vendor,” Salenga said.

Let's make more

Leon Guerrero said eventually they hope to bring a Market Fresh Deli the likes of the one in Maite to all Pay-Less locations

“We would like this to be the model,” she said.

In the meantime, give yourself a break from cooking and doing dishes, visit the deli for breakfast, lunch or dinner. You won’t be disappointed.

Delicious, healthy and fast intersect at Pay-Less Market Deli

YUMMY: The Since Poke Tuna sells for $12 per pound. Norman M. Taruc/The Guam Daily Post

“If you want something to eat just come here to the Market Fresh Deli at Pay-Less Maite and it’s good to go,” Salenga said.

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