Six Filipino celebrity chefs will be pitted against each other in the first ever Food Truck War, a kick-off event of the first Manila Food and Wine Festival (MFWF) to be held Feb. 22-25 at the SM Mall of Asia complex.
The friendly competition will showcase the culinary prowess and serving flair of celebrity chefs Robby Goco (Cyma, Charlie’s Grind, Grill and Achiote), Sau del Rosario (Food Garage and Villa Café), Bruce Lim (Asian Food Channel), Tristan Encarnacion (culinary endorser), Marvin Agustin (Sumo Sam chain) and Florabel Co-Yatco (Florabel chain of restaurants).
“This is the first cooking event of such kind,” says chef Melissa Sison, program director for the MFWF. “With this event, we’d like to showcase not only Filipino food but the talent of our own local chefs. I always say we have globally competitive chefs in the Philippines who can compete with our neighboring countries.”
The celebrity chefs will battle it out at the MOA open grounds on Feb. 22 starting at 5 p.m. The chefs will board their own color-coded trucks equipped with state-of-the-art kitchens.
Each competing chef has been assigned team colors—Goco, orange; Co, red; Del Rosario, purple; Agustin, blue; Encarnacion, black; and Lim, green.
Each master chef must come up with an appropriate food truck meal of choice that will be sold to event guests, foodies, or anyone willing to try their concoction. The chef who comes up with the most orders (online at www.mfwf.ph, or through onsite sales) will be declared the cook-off champion and will win prizes.
“The champion will also be determined by a series of challenges,” adds Sison. “Like, first to serve 250 meals, most online sales, most onsite sales and most meals served, etc.”
For his competing dish, Goco goes back to the roots of Pinoy festivities to serve his own rendition of the popular lechon.
“I will serve Porchetta, a traditional pork lechon roll from central Italy,” says Goco.
It is pork belly seasoned with garlic, rosemary, fennel, and other herbs stuffed with pork loin, then rolled and roasted to a crisp.
“I will be serving mine in a traditional way—in a ciabatta-like roll, crisp outside, very soft and slightly sour inside. It’s topped with fresh wild arugula and onion marmalade. To make the experience better, I will be serving it with four sauces: aioli (garlic mayonnaise), salsa verde (herb sauce), ajvar (east Mediterranean eggplant and pimiento sauce), and the classic liver sauce,” says Goco.
These sauces, Goco adds, will give the porchetta a brand-new dimension. It will be served with roasted sea-salt potatoes on the side. “Truly a perfect street food for a great food truck experience,” he says.
Del Rosario, meanwhile, is serving yet another crowd favorite: super-sized dim sum, this time paired with fried rice seasoned with truffle oil.
“I will serve jumbo dumplings like siomai, hakaw and gyoza, served with truffled yang chow, duck and pineapple, Angus beef fried rice… It’s actually simple and straightforward but with a modern twist.
“It’s going to be fun. In fact, as part of our truck gimmick, if you bring a live snake (since it’s the year of the snake), you get free dim sum,” says Del Rosario.
Encarnacion is going for all-Pinoy meals, playing around with traditional favorites. He’s dishing out Tuakang Ceviche, Adobong Puso ng Saging, Bagnet in Coco Shrimp Sauce, Halo Spring Roll with Dulce de Leche and Jalaya Sauce.
“I always like to promote Filipino cuisine in every way I can,” says Encarnacion. “I always prepare Pinoy dishes for my kababayan.”
Co-Yatco, on the other hand, is preparing a global delicacy called “Sausages of the World.”
“We need something very fast and quick to prepare,” says Co-Yatco. “Everyone loves sausages. Mine is a sausage with a twist. It has Japanese, Korean and Filipino touches.”
Instead of sauerkraut, Co-Yatco is using atchara to go with the sausages.
“Everyone I know, no matter the nationality, has a favorite sausage. The dish is easy to eat, would be great no matter what drink is paired, and with a variety of sauces I’m planning to serve, I’m sure that this will be a hit during the cook-off,” says Co-Yatco.
Agustin will impress the foodies with his sushi-making skills, while Lim will serve his own rendition of chicken wings.
MFWF is open to the public, but the cook-off tickets can also be purchased online (visit www.mfwf.ph).
The first MFWF, with the theme “Cooking Revolution 2013,” is organized by the Culinary Education Foundation (CEF) in partnership with the Department of Tourism. All proceeds from the MFWF 2013 will be forwarded to a scholarship fund of CEF which will help 500 poor but deserving students earn a degree in culinary education.
“Proceeds will also be used as seed money to change the lives of deserving Filipino youths to fulfill their culinary dreams,” says Annie Guerrero, president and founder of CEF, a nonprofit organization.
Apart from the cook-off, MFWF will also have other major activities, such as the Restaurant Wars, and the elegant gala dinner presented by the Asian Food Channel.
Participating in the Restaurant Wars are more than 70 restaurants and seven hotels. They will offer special MFWF deals such as 50-percent off for every food purchase. These deals are available through purchase of exclusive MFWF tickets at the event website, mfwf.ph.
The participating restaurants and hotels will also offer specially designed set meals for lunch and dinner at discounted prices. Some of the participating restaurants include Cravings, Casa Roces, Lombardi’s, C2, CCA Market Cafe, The Coffee Beanery, Sumo Sam chain, Florabel, Felix, Crisostomo, Elias, Italiannis, Fish & Co., Friday’s, Flapjacks, Krazy Garlic, Bulgogi Brothers, Ma Maison, Modern Shanghai, the Stockmarket Café, Village Tavern, Watami, etc. Hotel restaurants include Spiral of Sofitel, Café Ilang-ilang of Manila Hotel, Corniche Restaurant of Diamond Hotel, as well as the restaurants in Bayleaf, Luxent, Acacia and Traders Hotel.
To avail of the deals, visit mfwf.ph and buy your tickets online. Tickets will also be sold on the days of the event in all Megaworld malls.
“The most exciting part of the Restaurant Wars is that we are keeping tab on who gets to sell the most number of vouchers,” explains Sison. “The two establishments with the most number of sold vouchers will get to the join the Professional Chef Accelerated Program of Center for Culinary Arts-Manila.”
As a culminating activity, the MFWF will host an AFC Gala Dinner at the Makati Shangri-La on Feb. 25. It will highlight the Philippines as the next must-visit destination for food and hospitality.
E-mail the author at [email protected]