Local dishes like sinigang, adobo and sinuglao will soon find their way on the taste buds of European tongues as two Filipino chefs are set to showcase local dishes in this year’s Le Tavole Accademiche (Academic Tables) in Pollenzo, Italy.
This October, Le Tavole Accademiche of the Università degli Studi di Scienze Gastronomiche (UNISG) in Italy opens its kitchen to the culinary expertise of Chef Jam Melchor, as he prepares to serve savory Filipino dishes that will open up the palates of foreigners to our local flavors and feed their knowledge about Filipino food culture.
Chef Jam will be assisted by Chef Johan Movido, a top graduate of the Center for Culinary Arts (CCA) Manila, who now heads the Innovations division of one of the biggest companies in the Philippines.
UNISG, founded in 2004 by Slow Food in cooperation with the Italian regions of Piedomont and Emilia-Romagna, has focused on the study of gastronomy. Le Tavole Accademiche embraces this focus through food that combines education, haut cuisine and local produce.
Every year, 25 international top chefs are invited to prepare creative recipes that reflect the school’s principles of good, clean and fair food using local, seasonal ingredients. For the first time, a Filipino chef will present the local cuisine and gastronomy as Chef Jam and Chef Johan visit UNISG on the third week of October.
“I want this trip to be a platform for Filipino food to be recognized, especially in that (Italian) university where they value gastronomy,” Chef Jam shares. “My goal is to inspire more Filipinos, the youth especially, to discover more about our cuisine like where it comes from and what is it all about.”
During his visit, Chef Jam together with Chef Johan, will be serving classic and regional dishes that will hopefully fire up more conversations about Filipino food as the UNISG students and alumni feast on the Filipino fare. Although both chefs hail from Pampanga, their menu will feature different provinces through their Sinigang na Bayabas, Adobong Batangan, Binulo na Tinawon and Sinuglao.
While the Sinigang na Bayabas, soured with the local guava, highlights his Kapampangan roots and is a personal favorite, Chef Jam acknowledges that sinigang, just like a number of Filipino dishes, has different interpretations. He travels to Batangas for his Adobong Batangan, pork belly braised in vinegar, garlic, and annatto. “Batangan is the old name for Batangas, where the dish originated.”
Binulo na Tinawon pays homage to the traditional way Filipinos cook their rice using bamboo. This version will highlight the heirloom rice tinawon, grown in the Banaue Rice Terraces.
“I want people to know more about our interesting food culture, its diversity and abundance,” Chef Jam adds.
Chef Jam crafts his menu around local ingredients such as pili from Albay, adlai from Bukidnon and mango from Guimaras and Zambales. In fact, pili will be an integral component of his dessert plates, which features Mango Pili Sansrival and Pili-Crusted Turon.
He will also be bringing several Filipino Ark of Taste ingredients, which he will have the chance to present to UNISG and use in his menu.
UNISG hones the minds of future gastronomists about the global food culture through academic discussions and practical experiences that allow them to discover and taste more of what lies beyond their shores. Through the endeavors of chefs like Jam Melchor and Chef Johan, we can be assured that conversations and dialogues about Filipino food and Philippine ingredients will continue with the next generation of gastronomes.