Last week’s successful staging of Madrid Fusión Manila definitely benefited the country in more ways than one. Not only did it promote the Philippines as a legit food hub and local cuisine worth discovering, it also showcased the talent of Filipino chefs.
That refers not only to Amy Besa, Romy Dorotan, Tatung Sarthou and Miko Aspiras who spoke on the big stage, but also over 30 local chefs who proved their mettle during the April 7-9 event at the SMX Convention Center. They served tasting portions of delicious dishes born out of their creative minds.
Like last year, the Regional Lunches segment was very much anticipated and talked about. Spearheaded by the Department of Agriculture, it was a wonderful display of curated food done by the private sector.
“We wanted to participate in the regional lunches because we wanted to highlight our local ingredients,” said Undersecretary Berna Romulo-Puyat.
“Through Madrid Fusion Manila, we got to highlight and educate the public about our local cuisine, the availability of various agriculture products and ingredients, and how they may be used in various food preparations. This is also a way of paying homage to our farmers and encouraging them to continue producing high-quality food for consumers,” she added.
The first day, curated by Nina Puyat and this writer, introduced guests to the five flavor profiles of Filipino cuisine— maalat (salty), matamis (sweet), maasim (sour), mapait (bitter) and malinamnam (flavorful).
Chefs Him Uy de Baron, Jam Melchor, Kristine Lotilla, Nikki Misa, Giney Villar, Neil Ramos, Jessie Sincioco, Tibong Jardeleza, Patrick and Pia Roa and Mikko Reyes showcased ingredients such as batwan, taba ng talangka, Capiz oysters, calamansi, bagoong, ampalaya, Palawan and Pangasinan honey, muscovado sugar, and tablea, in dishes containing these wonderful flavor combinations and aesthetics.
Kalel Chan, corporate chef of the Raintree Group, used the simple salted duck egg in a multilayered creation of salted egg tofu, salted egg cream with Palawan honey, carabao’s milk and calamansi, and salted egg polvoron with crispy rice and arosep.
Following the second-day theme of almusal (breakfast) guided by JJ Yulo, chefs Jayme Natividad, Miguel Vecin, Seya Ortega, Denise Celdran, Ramon Antonio, Jeremy and Jen Slagle, Karla Mendoza, Rob Pengson, Francis Lim, Ed Bugia, Nico Millanes, Don Colmenares and Chona Ayson produced a memorable fare that reinforced tapa, pansit molo, dinuguan, tsokolate and ensaymada as all-time favorites.
The third and final day had the guests enjoying street food, presented by chefs Denny Antonino, Nicco Santos, Adrian Cuenca, Carlos Garcia, Robert Bolaños, Victor Magsaysay, Justin Golangco and Gabriel Bustos.
Curated by Alicia Sy, the spread included familiar items such as balut, lugaw, turon, binatog, kwek-kwek, sisig, mais con yelo, suman and sapin-sapin. But, as in the previous days, they were interpreted with flair and fancy.
“We were humbled to see people coming back to our booth for seconds, thirds and even fourths,” said Jessica Gallegos and Kiko Dy of The Butchery, which makes organic sau-sages.
They served bite-size chicken inasal longganisa and mini-sisig taco topped with fried quail eggs.
Asia’s best female chef
Margarita Forés was given her own booth for all three days to celebrate her win as Asia’s Best Female Chef on Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2016 list.
Guests liked her use of local products on the following dishes: Macaron Sandwich with Smoked Kesong Puti Mousse; Candied Kamias and Pata Negros (Panlasa); Coffee and Guava-Roasted Negros Organic Lamb with Cured Egg Yolk on Adlai Cracker (Almusal); and Cerveza Negra Ice Cream with Calamansi Mostarda and Chicken Liver Pate on Sourdough Pandesal (Street Food).
Making sure that the celebrated event had smooth kitchen operations and service were chefs Josh Boutwood, Noel dela Rama, Bel Castro and students from Enderun College.
Madrid Fusión Manila 2016 and the well-executed Regional Lunches made its mark in the local and international gastronomic scenes.