MADRID Fusion is coming to town. The international food conference, which originated in Spain, will hold a Philippine edition on April 24-26 at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City. The event is part of the Department of Tourism’s “Visit the Philippines 2015” campaign.
The three-day gathering includes an international gastronomy conference which will not only tackle trends, but also give chefs and culinary industry practitioners a chance to interact with top Spanish chefs.
A trade exhibition will highlight ingredients from the Philippines and Spain, how these define their respective cuisines, and how other countries can adapt them to add new dimensions to their cooking.
There will be food tasting and full meals featuring regional Filipino food. They will all be held inside SMX, though other activities will unfold outside the venue.
Tickets are at P20,000 per delegate; P18,000 for students. Group discounts are available before March 15.
Concerned about the pricey tickets, I was informed that it includes the entrance fee, a seat at the gastronomy conference, dining in the regional food festival at the venue and access to the trade exhibit for three days.
Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez Jr. said there will be only 1,500 seats to make the interaction more effective. He added that the event is for an international audience of food and beverage practitioners, as well as the foreign travel, tourism and food media.
The foreign participants will have the opportunity to experience Filipino food, which is the next big thing, according to trend reports. The spotlight will be on Filipino chefs who run many restaurants around the world.
It may be difficult to imagine the full scope of Madrid Fusion, but let me recount my own experience attending the event years ago.
Back then, Ferran Adria, proponent of molecular gastronomy, announced his retirement and the closing of his restaurant El Bulli, and opened the El Bulli Foundation.
Juan Mari Arzak and daughter Elena of the three-Michelin-star Arzak restaurant in San Sebastian, Spain, served seafood with video footage of the sea and crashing waves.
There was also a demonstration of a digital tablecloth menu that could receive orders, with computer games one could play while waiting for the food to arrive. One could even call for a taxi from the table.
A panel discussion tackled whether printed restaurant guides were still relevant in a world of food blogs. Representatives from Michelin Guide and the founders of Zagat and Makansutra joined the discussions.
There were also sessions for tasting traditional Spanish food from different restaurants in the city. Cocktails were hosted by chefs from Asturias, and dinner was prepared by leading Spanish chefs at the Casino Madrid.
The conference itself was mind-blowing. But there were other events outside that gave delegates no letup—tapas tours, wine and olive oil tasting, cooking demos, jamon and café culture adventures.
There are plans for similar full schedules in Madrid Fusion Manila.
For the whole of April, there will be food festivals throughout the country under the program “Flavors of the Philippines,” both at SM malls and in restaurants.
Included in regional tours are Albay, Pampanga and Davao. There will be cook-offs by culinary students, a food-truck festival at Bonifacio High Street and a harvest festival in an organic farm in Laguna. The trade exhibit will be open to the public on the third day.
Seven Spanish chefs, all with Michelin stars, one multiawarded Spanish pastry chef, and two prominent Asian chefs will join 10 chefs from Manila, both Spanish and Filipino, at the gastronomy conference. For their names and credentials, visit www.madridfusionmanila.com.