Chefs JP Anglo, Patrick Go and Nicco Santos have been tapped to headline Madrid Fusion Manila 2018, slated April 19-21, according to the Department of Tourism.
What was your reaction to this big break?
Santos: I’ve been cooking this food for 11 years and I can’t help but look back and think of everything I’ve gone through. It was a very grateful and humbling moment for me.
Go: It’s a big opportunity for me to represent the country, showcase my cooking philosophy, and highlight Filipino ingredients to the international market. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be sharing the stage with chefs I look up to.
What are you most excited about?
Go: I’m very much excited about presenting our food philosophy and sharing ideas with other great chefs in the conference.
Anglo: First of all, I’m looking forward to learning from them (the chefs). Second, I can’t wait to cook and feed them good Filipino food.
Santos: I’m excited to connect with everyone again. My mentors, my family abroad, everyone who has taken the time to teach me. I’m also excited about the people I’ll be working with, for, and during the presentation. I’m looking forward to the creative blocks and breakthroughs and, last but not the least, learning from all the amazing chefs who will be speaking throughout the event.
How do you plan to interpret the theme, “Innovating Traditions”?
Go: For me, it’s always about the story behind the dish, rather than the cooking technique. My presentation will be focusing on a common ingredient that is very close to my heart. We will be highlighting the issues in the industry, and how chefs can contribute to it going forward.
Santos: Throughout my culinary career, one thing that has always been constant is change, but I’d always have home in mind. It’s amazing to have been given the opportunity to open and run a restaurant like what we have in the Philippines, in a place that I didn’t really like back then, only realizing now that I love it. I’ve always thought that moving abroad will present better opportunities, only to find out that it has always been coming back home. It’s pretty much still the same place, but only now that I see it differently. There are a lot of similar flavors and techniques that we have with our neighboring countries that I’ve discovered only recently. So, now, I cook to make our world a little bit smaller and I’d like to share that possibility with everyone at Madrid Fusion.
Anglo: “Innovating Traditions” is not just about cooking techniques. It’s also about using our underutilized produce and coming up with creative ways on how to use them. For example, ube, or purple yam, is an ingredient we used to just boil and incorporate in pastry recipes. But it’s such a flexible ingredient that you can use it in many savory dishes as well.
Also, our souring agents. Before, it was just used for soups. Now you see people making them into ice cream flavors.
I think another way we can innovate tradition is by changing how we normally serve Filipino food. We’ve always been used to Filipino food being served directly from the pot to the serving dish, which is commonly a family style of serving. This is how we’ve always seen Filipino food, but now we play around with the aesthetics, too. We’ve learned to be more creative and contemporary.
What do you want guests to feel or learn from your presentation?
Anglo: I want them to feel excited about Filipino food, to feel confident and proud that our cuisine can stand up to global cuisines. I want them to believe that we are just scratching the surface here and that there are more local ingredients that we haven’t fully utilized and we are still learning every day. I want my Filipino audience to feel empowered and proud of our cuisine.
Go: My goal is to enlighten the guests on how and why we, as chefs, and the restaurants, push these traditional ingredients forward through innovative dishes. And also, I want people to be aware about the issues surrounding the industry.
Santos: If there’s one thing I want to leave everyone with, it’s the feeling of being alive and grateful for family. —CONTRIBUTED
For more information about Madrid Fusion Manila 2018, visit www.madridfusionmanila.com.