Filipino chefs dish out crispy corned beef for Aquino, delegationBy Doris C. Dumlao, Michael Lim Ubac
Philippine Daily Inquirer
DAVOS—Even as far as Davos in Switzerland, President Benigno Aquino III apparently could not do without his favorite food—crispy corned beef. That was for breakfast. For lunch, what else but adobo?
Which means the President isn’t missing Filipino cuisine during his working visit to this wintry European skiing hub for his World Economic Forum (WEF) debut.
Apart from a select Cabinet entourage, Mr. Aquino also took along with him two Filipino chefs. It was the first time he brought chefs with him on an overseas trip.
Since Mr. Aquino and members of his Cabinet were staying in unstaffed Swiss chalets, bringing the President’s own kitchen staff was deemed more economical, Communications Secretary Ricky Carandang said in an interview.
The two chefs Mr. Aquino has with him are Jove De Guzman and AJ Cortez and they are cooking for the Malacañang delegation, according to Carandang.
“We are not staying in hotels but in rented houses so there’s no room service,” said Carandang. “It’s actually cheaper than eating out.”
As soon as the President arrived in Davos on Thursday morning, the Palace chefs prepared a Filipino breakfast that included corned beef—which Mr. Aquino pointed out in a previous interview with the Inquirer was his favorite food (along with sinangag or fried rice).
“The President is eating the same food as his Cabinet and his staff. We all had adobo for lunch,” Cabinet Secretary Rene Almendras said in a text message forwarded to presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda, who remained in Manila.
Some Palace officials said, however, the decision to bring Filipino chefs to Davos actually had nothing to do with the President’s food preferences.
It was more economical to bring a Filipino chef “because we are not staying in hotels,” Almendras said in his text message. “We are renting houses, sharing rooms [with] very spartan facilities.”
Almendras is one of the seven Cabinet members accompanying the President to the annual forum of the world’s political and business titans.
“It was cheaper to bring a chef than to eat out or get a chef here,” said Almendras.
In a phone interview, Lacierda said that since Mr. Aquino belatedly confirmed his attendance at the forum, it was too late for the Palace office in charge of foreign travels to book a hotel for him and his entourage.
He said resort houses were being rented out to foreigners during the ski season.
“The cook cooks for the Cabinet and their senior staff,” Lacierda said, adding the decision to bring Filipino cooks was “a cost-saving measure.”
“It would be cheaper so we rented private houses, not hotels,” he said.
In Davos, organizers say it’s difficult to find a hotel in January during the week of the summit. For this annual meeting, there are about 2,500 delegates.
Mr. Aquino, among the 50 heads of state taking part in the summit, stayed in a chalet close to the conference area in downtown Davos. Staying with the President in his chalet were senior support staff, the Presidential Security Group and Almendras.
3 chalets rented
All in all, three chalets were rented by the Palace to serve as the official residence of the delegation. The two chefs were tasked to prepare meals whenever the entourage had no outside lunch or dinner engagements.
Mr. Aquino is participating in the WEF annual meeting for the first time.
The Philippines’ 63 delegates include those from the private sector and civil society.
Other Cabinet members in the entourage are Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario, Trade Secretary Gregory Domingo, Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, Economic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan and Budget Secretary Florencio Abad.