For others, an international recognition gives them leeway to pause for a moment and ease up a little bit. After all, they’ve worked so hard to be affirmed by award-giving bodies that a break is certainly due. This is not so, however, for Asia’s Best Female Chef Margarita Fores.
The 2016 awardee is in fact busier than ever—she is spearheading the upcoming Madrid Fusion in Manila, which will have its third edition in April, while staying on top of her restaurant ventures, Cibo, Grace Park and Lusso.
As if her plate is not full enough, Fores is also rebooting her hosting chops as she launches a brand new cooking and travel show for CNN Philippines titled Harvest with Margarita Fores.
Premiering on February 18, Harvest will take Fores to different parts of the country and introduce her to each destination’s prized harvests and well-kept native recipes.
“I think the colonial mentality didn’t make us so proud of our food. I mean if you think back, like when you entertain foreigners, where do you take them? You take them out to have paella and lechon, right? You don’t take them to your house where you cook the best Pinoy food,” Fores remarked.
Hoping to correct that mentality, Fores and her team has chosen to explore the culinary-rich provinces of Bicol, General Santos City and Davao, and is on her way to go up north for her four-part series.
In each episode, Fores talks to a resource person, and learns how the locals harvest their produce and incorporate them in their kitchens. Before the end of the show the noted chef finally comes up with her own dishes inspired by her experience.
“What’s nice about this show is that the dishes are not pre-planned. Whatever I cook on site is only thought of once I get there, go to the market, and see the ingredients. I learn from the resource person for the episode every time. It’s really on fly and I am forced to push my creative juices to do something unique,” Fores revealed.
While creating dishes impromptu is like second skin to Fores, hosting is fairly new territory for this culinary whiz.
“I still need a little bit of practice. We’ve only done a few episodes so I am looking forward to being more at home with the camera following me around,” Fores shared with a laugh.
“But I think what you see on the screen is pretty much how I am—very spontaneous. A lot of those shots were real,” she added.
And real she was indeed in Harvest’s teaser where she tries her hand at the gata dishes of the Bicolanos with glee.
Recalled Fores, “I learned how they are harvested from coconut trees, grated from their shells and finally pressed to produce coconut milk.”
She even cooked her take on gata in a kitchen setup far from her fully equipped environment.
“It was raining when were shooting that and we cooked using the firewood. So I had dripping over my eyes and the makeup seemed to have gone away. But those elements only made the show more real,” the chef added.
In ending, Fores reiterated how she hopes through her new show, Filipinos will come to love and take pride in their local dishes even more.
“I believe the minute we start to love our own food, the world will love our food back. Thankfully, nowadays, we are so proud of our sinigang, our kinilaw and it took us falling in love with our own cuisine and our own produce all over again. Hopefully we can add more dishes to that list,” Fores enthused.
Harvest with Margarita Fores airs Saturdays on CNN Philippines beginning February 18 at 7 p.m.