Flavors of the Philippines Festival aims to make country a culinary destination
Two major food events, as well as numerous culinary and food-related affairs and activities all over the Philippines, will make the early part of summer a flavorful occasion as the Department of Tourism (DoT) and Tourism Promotions Board (TPB) organize the second Flavors of the Philippines Festival, which lasts from March to April, as part of its Visit the Philippines Again 2016 campaign.
The festival features culinary tours, food trucks, bar crawls, concerts, agricultural fairs, weekend gourmet markets and bazaars and many others in different malls, restaurants and other venues across the archipelago.
Flavors of the Philippines “will take us to every corner of the archipelago for gustatory discoveries — for treasures handed down from generation to generation, for fusion dishes that encapsulate the identity of the Filipino,” described DoT Undersecretary Benito Bengzon Jr. at the fourth edition of the annual Festival de la Paella Gigante, held at the Greenbelt Park in Makati City, on March 12, which served as a kickoff of the food festival.
Bengzon also said Flavors is “the delightful run-up to the grand gastronomical event in Asia,” which is envisioned to position the Philippines as a “center of food and gastronomy in Asia.”
“When eating out or taking vacations, let us make a conscious effort to try different cuisines, to be brave to try the unusual, and to work up those senses,” he suggested, while encouraging people to patronize festival activities.
A giant paella to whet the appetite
Organized by the DoT, Spain Tourism Board and the Sociedad Española de Beneficencia, with support from the Ayala Malls, the Festival de la Paella Gigante was a fitting prelude to the festival. The highlight of the event was the on-the-spot preparation of a paella Valenciana 10 feet in diameter. Renowned chefs led by Spanish chef Mikel Arriet, J Gamboa, Fernando Aracama, Carlo Miguel, Gilbert Pangilinan, James Antolin, Jerome Valencia, Sito Senn and Juan Carlo de Terry made it all happen.
Cooked the traditional way over charcoal and firewood in a paellera from Instituto Cervantes, the paella used 100 kilos of rice, 13 liters of olive oil and 265 kilos of chicken, chorizo, shrimp, prawns, squid and mussels. It was good for about a thousand people and sold at P200 per plate. The money raised was for the benefit of Sociedad Española de Beneficencia and its programs.
Pablo Garcia Morera, president of Sociedad Española de Beneficencia, said the Paella Gigante has become a huge event for their institution. “Just by being here and just by eating the paella, you are making a huge difference,” he said, citing the event’s “giant purpose of providing shelter, healthcare and assistance to the elderly.”
On the other hand, Ayala Malls general manager Mia Domingo spoke fondly of hosting Paella Gigante in Greenbelt for two years, referring to the charitable event as something that “has become close to our hearts” as it touches the lives of people in need.
The event also featured flamenco performances by Emma Estrada and the Grupo Nuevo Flamenco and music by Nyko Maca.
Madrid Fusion Manila 2016:
East meets West
The main event of the Flavors of the Philippines Festival is the second run of Madrid Fusion Manila (MFM) from April 7 to 9 at the SMX Convention Centre, with the theme “The Manila Galleon: East meets West.”
Madrid Fusion is Spain’s famous culinary event, celebrated annually in Madrid since 2003. The Madrid Fusion Manila is the first and only Asian edition.
DoT Secretary Ramon Jimenez Jr. described the first edition as a “truly delicious success to experience over and over, as it proved to be an emotional reunion between close friends who have not shared a meal in a very long time. MFM 2015’s opening day was a realization that it was not just your ordinary food festival, but a gastronomical milestone for the Philippines.”
He added that the Philippines’ hosting of Madrid Fusion Manila this 2016 is a great honor. This time, it will once again gather celebrated chefs from both hemispheres of the world. Representing the West will be Joan Roca, Dani Garcia, Jordi Butron, Angel Leon, Richard Camarena (Spain); Michael Voltaggio (USA); Enrique Olivera and Jorge Vallejo (Mexico); and Virgilio Martinez (Peru). The East will have Yoshiro Narisawa (Japan), David Thompson (Thailand), Nurdin Topham (Hong Kong), Kevin Cherkas (Indonesia) and Jungsik Yim (Korea). The Philippines will be represented by Romy Dorotan and Amy Besa, Myke Sarthou, Michael Aspiras, Leah Cohen and Paul Qui.
“It is with utmost pleasure that we welcome these top hats, young and old, all with bragging rights and awards to their names. As we witness the explosion of culinary geniuses on stage, the priceless lessons can only but inspire our local talents to create ripples and be conscious of Filipino core values of hospitality, ingenuity and industry as foundations in building uniquely Filipino food experiences,” said Jimenez.
“Once again, our local industry needs to seize this opportunity to showcase the best products at the trade exhibit. But more than just a gastronomic event, our net gain from MFM should lead to world awareness of the Philippines not only as a food haven, but also as a viable source of culinary talents and premium food brands. As the Manila Galleon created trade opportunities between Manila and Acapulco, MFM should likewise be used as a touch point to spur investment, trade and business linkages with the rest of the world,” he added.
MFM will include the International Gastronomy Congress where East and West will be in conversation about traditional techniques, ingredients and many others. Another component is the trade exhibition, which will feature food and beverage companies, gourmet products, ingredients and new technologies and services in the food industry, to be participated in by professionals, enthusiasts and consumers.
Also, there will be Regional Lunches, curated by other local chefs, to showcase native dishes using produce and ingredients that are representative of the three island groups.
Many events are lined up for the whole of April.
Yesterday, March 31, the Metropolitan Museum of the Philippines opened a tapas exhibition, showcasing a selection of Spanish designs dedicated to the world of food. “Tapas: Spanish Design for Food” runs from April 1 to June 16, presenting how the history of food relates with the world of art, photography and movies will be presented. This will be complemented by cooking lessons on Spanish-inspired pasta dishes on April 5 at the Alta in Ascott Bonifacio Global City in Taguig City.
For the whole month of April, people can participate in market tours in old Manila through the Smokey Tours, where one can walk through the market area of Old Manila to get a taste of Filipino culture and see different kinds of merchandise. The tour includes the Chinatown to see how Filipino cuisine is deeply fused with Chinese cuisine and traditions.
There will also be weekend and night markets at the Araneta Center in Cubao, BF in Parañaque City, SM Southmall in Las Piñas and Eton Centris in Quezon City.
A one-day culinary heritage tour of Cavite, Malolos, Pampanga, Malabon, Antipolo-Angono and Laguna-Quezon will be organized through Food Holidays to see how cuisines and cooking traditions of these places are shaped by history, customs and indigenous resources.
The Soccsksargen Region (South Cotabato, Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani and General Santos City) in Mindanao will be in the spotlight at the Treasures of SOX: A Food, Travel and Trade Expo from April 11 to 14 at the Glorietta Activity Center in Makati City. One of the highlights will be the SOX Food and Fashion with Project Runway Season 4 winner Jared Servano as director. It will showcase fashion materials by indigenous ethnic groups of the region. Additionally, there will be the 30 Flavors of Soccksargen on April 2 at SM City General Santos, a culinary demo using local products such as tuna, Sultan Kudarat’s pineapple and corn, and Sarangani and South Cotabato’s seafood. There will also be food tours for the whole month of April such as the Gensan Tuna Food Tour, Blaan Traditional Food Tour, Lake Sebu Culinary Experience, T’boli Food Adventure and Halal Goodness.
In the Central Luzon region, there will be a cooking of a giant bringhe, the famous Pampangan rice dish, at SM City Pampanga; the Pampanga Food and Heritage Tour from April 1 to 30 where the famous cuisine of the Pampangans, regarded as the best in the country, will be explored in a cultural and gastronomic food trip; Exotic Dishes Challenge’ is slated for April 3, a competition geared towards highlighting exotic dishes of Pampanga, at SM City San Fernando; Sweet Tooth Bulakenyo showcasing culinary students and young chefs who will prepare 30 uniquely Bulakenyo desserts, on April 9, at the SM City Marilao Event Center; and Chefs Manila featuring Emelita Galang and chef Sau del Rosario, renowned Pampangan culinary icons, at SM City Clark.
The Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon) region will mount the launch of “Food for the Generals,” featuring the Razor Chefs, Food Holidays Culinary Culture, the dishes of Calabarzon and Eat Your History, on April 6 at the Aguinaldo Shrine in Cavite.
The Western Visayas region will feature “Flavors of Western Visayas,” showcasing Spanish-influenced Visayan cuisine by chef Rafael Jardeleza with 2016 Asia’s Best Chef Gaita Fores of Negros and guest chef Angelo Comsti, at the Casa Real of the Iloilo Provincial Capitol on April 2. There will also be a mango festival and the 60th Aklan Day celebrations.
In Central Visayas, a culinary demo called Epicurius will feature chef Raki of Café Laguna in collaboration with Teresin Mendezona at SM City Cebu on April 7; while the Zamboanga Peninsula will have Savore, a food exhibit, skills competition for hotel and restaurant management institutions on April 18 at Centro Latino in Zamboanga City.
Northern Mindanao will mount Binaki ug Kape Festival, a showcase of one of Cagayan de Oro’s iconic delicacies, the binaki ug kape, a mixture of grated young corn with milk, wrapped in corn husk and steamed, complimented by locally grown coffee at the SM City Cagayan de Oro on April 21.
The Davao Region has Food Trip and Davao Heritage Tour, a cultural and gastronomical tour in three parts — the walking tour at San Pedro Street, Bankerohan Experience, and the Restaurant Incentivized Lunch — from March 25 to May 31. There will also be a Davao pub crawl hopping in Davao’s best pubs; and the Flavors of Davao, a showcase of flavors of Davao highlighting local ingredients through live culinary art demonstrations by Davao’s top gastronomic experts, at SM City Lanang (April 3, 9 and 10) and SM City Davao (April 10).
For the whole month of April, the whole country will be steeped in flavors, delighting not only in the sustenance that foods bring but also in their culture and history.
For the full calendar of events, visit www.madridfusionmanila.com.