An association of Cavite-based chefs, restauranteurs, food historians, entrepreneurs, cooks and academicians, whose members call themselves the “Culinary Generals,” is trying to preserve the region’s history by reviving interest on regional heirloom recipes and table traditions, which are fast disappearing from everyday life.
“The Culinary Generals came about as a result of Calabarzon’s participation in last year’s Madrid Fusion,” declared Culinary General chef Christopher Carangian.
“The Department of Tourism (DOT) Region IV-A Office gathered the best practitioners from the region’s food industry for participation at the Calabarzon booth at the 2015 Madrid Fusion and it was there that we decided to form a group that would keep alive the region’s heirloom dishes that have disappeared from everyday life, promote regional culinary talents, as well as native local products and produce,” explained chef Carangian during the 2016 edition of Madrid Fusion Manila.
Another Culinary General, leadership guru Cornel Bongco, said ,“that in the meetings of the Culinary Generals, we rediscovered new ideas by revisiting the old way of life, even leadership principles, trade secrets, and business ethics that are still useful today.”
He cited as example the old ritual called Tagayan, where guests and hosts take turns to propose a toast in poetry form. This drinking ritual, which started in the Quezon province, displays the hospitable nature and civilized way of life of the southern Tagalog region.
DOT Region IV-A Director Rebecca Labit said that, “as a cradle of history, the Calabarzon region proudly nurtured some of the country’s heirloom cuisine and it is crucial to safeguard this intangible heritage. This is a difficult task and we are very grateful to the Culinay Generals for devoting themselves to this undertaking.”
One of the ways that the Culinary Generals try to keep the almost forgotten culinary tradition of Cavite relevant and interesting once more is done through the annual Kalye Kulinarya, a three-day local gastronomy congress that features a food bazaar, trade expo and business seminar and helps promote local traditional producers and small proprietors, particularly backyard businesses.
Another project in the offing is a coffee table book on heirloom recipes and cuisine linked to the region’s history.
Membership into the association of Culinary Generals is by invitation only. Those interested will have to submit their credentials and members will assess whether the applicant meets the group’s standards for history and heritage cuisine.