The culinary scene in 2018 saw a lot of food festivals, food and wine pairing, degustations, book launches, food halls, restaurant openings (local and international franchise), healthy food options, takeout promos, online food concierge and young promising chefs, to name a few.
Though the supposed biggest event, the fourth edition of Madrid Fusion Manila planned for the latter part of the year, was eventually scrapped, it was still a busy year for the most part.
Here are some of the highlights of the year, including the chefs who proved their worth in the gastronomic arena:
Jordy Navarra. His famed Toyo Eatery (Chino Roces Avenue, Makati City), which bagged an Asia’s 50 Best One To Watch Award for 2018, continues to draw big, hungry crowds to his doorstep. Owner-chef Navarra amazes his patrons with his exceptional cooking prowess, taking inspiration from locally available ingredients and recipes and elevating them to the level of culinary excellence with passion and a progressive approach.
It’s also the first time a Pinoy chef was honored by Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants for his Filipino food.
Josh Boutwood. There’s no stopping him from delivering hearty, rustic dishes prepared the good old-fashioned way: cooking in wood and charcoal. He decided to go back to basics when he opened Savage restaurant in BGC, which is all about grilling that adds a smoky essence to every dish.
Bruce Ricketts. People continuously flock to La Chinesca (BF Parañaque and The Grid, Rockwell) to savor his selection of Mexican dishes like ceviche, beef taco and lamb taco, and Mecha Uma (BGC, Taguig) for his innovative Japanese-style dishes like tuna with foie gras mousse and prawns cooked in sake.
Kam’s Roast. The Michelin-star restaurant from Hong Kong finally opened at SM Mega Fashion Hall to satisfy Filipinos’ roasted meat cravings. Thanks to Rikki Dee’s FooDee Global Concepts, the same group that brought in international brands like Tim Ho Wan, Todd English, FOO’D, Tsuta Ramen and Hawker Chan. Kam’s main attractions are roast duck, crispy pork and char siu, as well as soy chicken and suckling pig.
Ube mania. We still can’t say goodbye to this purple favorite. It has steadily climbed to the level of world-class cuisine, and everywhere you go, Filipinos continue to enjoy its rich taste, be it in the form of ensaymada, ice cream, bread or filling.
Food/grocery delivery apps. Convenience remains the trend—hence, food delivery apps that are the ultimate in ease. Honestbee, for instance, simplifies life for people too busy to cook or do their own groceries. On the Honestbee app, people place their orders for quick meals from their favorite restaurants. They can also list their grocery items, and these are delivered to their doorstep the next day. People can shop on online “marts,” by the way, for medicines, dog food and a host of other products. There’s also Foodpanda, and food delivery components of transport companies, like Grab Food and LalaFood.
The Grid. The newest hangout at Rockwell’s Power Plant Mall offers fine food and good vibes. The food hub is the brainchild of Charles Paw, founder and CEO of Tasteless Group, the company that pioneered Hole in the Wall at Century City Mall. Imagine a variety of dishes, from ramen and tapas to pasta, burgers and cheese, under one roof with a cozy, classy ambience.
Food books. Noted chef Myke “Tatung” Sarthou has released his latest book, “Dishkarte sa Kusina,” a 230-page comprehensive kitchen guide that features essential kitchen hacks, recipes and lessons for modern Filipino households. Published by ABS-CBN Publishing, the book also presents kitchen basics that everyone must know for storing, preparing and cooking food in various ways.
Sarthou previously authored the award-winning book “Philippine Cookery From Heart to Platter,” which earned the top prize in the World Gourmand Awards for best book by a celebrity chef outside Europe (Yantai, China, May 2017).
In “Republic of Taste: The Untold Stories of Cavite Cuisine,” food writer and book designer Ige Ramos painstakingly documents the province of Cavite, its history, people, cuisine and geography. Ramos, a Caviteño and passionate promoter of Cavite, also gives the readers a peek into how people live and eat in his province, as well as their unique dishes and recipes.