THE world is getting smaller and smaller through globalization. Economies of different regions from east to west are integrating cultures and businesses so that people can easily share and experience one dynamic world.
Recognizing the need to expand the appreciation of Latin American culture in South East Asia, the Chilean Embassy started off with the “Flavors of Chile” food festival in Bangkok, Thailand on November 14 and 15, to which The Manila Times was invited as the only Philippine media outlet.
The event belatedly celebrated the signing of the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the two nations in October, and at the same time sought to promote authentic Chilean food products required by the Thai food and beverage industry.
With 80 million tourists visiting the Thailand each year, it was no surprise that the Chilean government chose Bangkok to establish their presence among the Association of South East Asian Nations (Asean) Markets.
“We started Flavors of Chile four years ago in our main office in Santiago [Chile’s capital]. Since then, we have organized about six events per year in the most important capitals in the world—New York, Paris, Seoul, Tokyo, Shanghai and Beijing. For this year we organized two events in Asia—one was in Hong Kong [November 11 and 12] and now here in Bangkok,” said Jaime Rivera, Trade Commissioner and Coordinator of the Asean Markets.
Through the efforts of ProChile, the Trade Commission under the country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, their government ably shows the Asean market that Chile is a goldmine of food products. They produce, among others, handcrafted extra-virgin olive and avocado oils, herb-infused vinegars, preserved fruits and jams, farmstead cheeses, specialty wines, as well as an abundant supply of dried fruits, prunes, and almost all types of nuts that is in demand across Asia.
“Bangkok as a hub, is a very important city, and very complimentary with our economy in Chile. There are about 54 million people here with an average income of around $5,000, so we recognize the importance of Thailand in the Asean integration,” she continued.
A festive, flavorful night
The two-day Flavors of Chile gathered Chilean exporters and Asean importers together to explore possible trading partnerships in the agriculture sector. In a room-full of flavors, eager business executives and officials sampled an endless array of delicious Chilean produce, while enjoying Bangkok’s famed hospitality.
On the evening of November 14, ProChile hosted a special dinner to formally present the best of Chilean food paired with world-famous Chilean wines through a four-course dinner by Chef Matias Palomo at The Mandarin Oriental Hotel.
The Chilean chef successfully transported his Asian guests to his country’s bountiful agricultural valleys at the foot of the imposing Andes Mountain Range.
The first course was an instant surprise. It was salmon tartar, sea scallops and abalone with lemon zest, avocado puree and sunflower seeds. Paired with Gran Reserva Sauvignon Blanc 2012 from the Viña Quintay winery in Chile, the colors of the dish echoed the vibrant culture of Chile—one that is fun, welcoming and unique.
The second course was the famed Chilean Sea Bass cooked with curanto rock (stuffed potato with curanto), mussels and parsley powder, and served with Max Reserva Carmenere 2011 from Viña Errazuriz. This dish was met with curiosity, what with a round black rock sitting at the center of the plate. To everyone’s surprise, the rock was actually soft and exquisite in taste.
The third dish featured pork ribs wrapped in Swiss chard with quinoa, pebre sauce and charquican puree, paired with the exquisite Montes Alpha Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 from Viña Montes.
For a sweet ending, a delicious dessert of wine meringue with fried almonds and walnuts, olive oil mousse and borgoña (or infused wine with berries) delighted the guests, who were left without a doubt that Chilean cuisine will have a very bright future in the Asean region.
For the Filipino food connoisseur
In the Philippines, there is a significant growth in the food and beverage industry with the diversity of cuisines offered in hotels and restaurants around the country. Not only the food enthusiast can attest to this, but also businessmen who are looking to supply the growing demand of the local market.
“The Philippine domestic market is a growing market considering that the choice and preferred taste has changed among Filipinos—it has become varied, to say the least,” said Roberto Amores, president and chief executive officer of Hi-Las Marketing Co. and chairman of the agriculture sector of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
According to him, the Filipino palate has truly evolved, and there is a need to bring in more food varieties to achieve a global outlook in terms of food and agriculture.
“Filipinos are now discriminating, and they want several choices. As the income bracket improves, so does the consumption. Also, it is worth noting that since the influx of tourists has grown in the last several years, the needs of hotels and F&B have increase as well, so that we now require additional sources of raw materials,” Amores added.
For sure, the Philippines will look to Chile as a partner in agriculture, what with the country’s abundant produce and growing presence in the region. And certainly too, they will also find many flavors to love from the Philippines, just as they did in Thailand.