IT was a whirlwind of a weekend at Madrid Fusion Manila.
For three days at lunch, curators, chefs and foodies converged at the meeting rooms 7 and 8 of SMX—otherwise known as the ASP lounge—to partake of the country’s best food and drinks. There, spreads of food represented the three major island groups.
Samples like ice cream, coffee and chocolates, liquor and liqueur (yes there is a difference) from our very own fruits, as well as rum from sugarcane and desserts old and new were both innovative and classic. There was also the rediscovery of ingredients like adlai, our most popular grain. Traditional favorites like kinilaw and lechon were not forgotten.
The weekend also gave me a chance to see the people behind the brands: the innovators behind the new concepts like Theo and Philo chocolates, Raquel Choa for Ralfe Gourmets, Rex and Jenny Puentespina of Malagos Chocolates, and Olive Puentespina for our spread of Malagos’ local cheeses.
I saw the chefs who you only see on Instagram: JP Anglo, Tippy Tambunting, Fernando Aracama, Enting Labaton, and many more. The foodies you see on social media; the food editors; and of course, Agriculture Undersecretary Berna Romulo-Puyat who I commend for having put up this all-inclusive show of Pinoy’s best.
As if reading a storybook, I met the seasoned stalwarts: Glenda Barretto of Via Mare fame serving the thousands who attended the congress; and Charita Puentespina of Malagos farm, coyly staying at the sidelines holding a bag of bread for the guests to sample cheeses from her daughter Olive’s new creations.
Meanwhile, JJ Yulo announced the next dishes coming out of the kitchen, you see curators Alicia Colby-Sy and Angelo Comsti walking to and fro, making sure the set ups and the food were ready for all the only 200 guests invited to the lunch event every day.
The most relaxed of all was Executive Chef Noel dela Rama, who found time to entertain us and tell us what was the dish “not to be missed” of the day. I definitely enjoyed his recommendations: the lamb from Negros, the kinilaw of Enting, Pepita’s lechon , the beef kitayama and my new discoveries: Cacao de Liquor of Olivia Limpe-Aw and the Fog City Creamery ice cream of Edi Dy.
Just like me, the foreign media loved every dish, every presentation, as evidenced by my friends Chris Dwyer, Debbie Rogers and Alexander Gregori going back for seconds. Nicky Matti going back for yet another kinilaw and tuna sashimi with Uni.
All this just shows that we have a booming culinary industry. If you’re not quick, these innovators will leave you behind—young and adventurous but also recognize old ingredients that deserve mention, and most of all, use.
We proved this at the Slow Food where we entertained many questions about the souring ingredients like tabon-tabon, sua, batuan, which can be found only in the south of Mindanao and in Negros respectively, and the heirloom rice from Kalinga and Ifugao. The chefs breathed new life into these forgotten varieties which are now part of the Ark of Taste (www.arkoftaste.org), being preserved for the next generations. I can imagine seeing heirloom rice and adlai in many menus from here on.
My best take away: locavorism is on the rise and the food served on all three occasions is proof we can promote local ingredients, which will benefit all our farmers. No tinge of imported sea bass or salmon yet we were still enthralled and entertained by the local creations of established chefs and even young entrepreneurs.
Yes, slow food, we have a chance here. Eating good, clean and fair food. And local, of course.
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Chit Juan is the Founder and President of ECHOstore Sustainable Lifestyle located in Serendra , Podium, Centris, Davao City, Makati and Cebu .She is the President of Women’s Business Council of the Philippines and the Philippine Coffee Board Inc. She often speaks to corporates, academe and entrepreneurs about her advocacies: Social Enterprise, Women Empowerment and Coffee. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or find her on Twitter@Chitjuan , Instagram: CHITJUAN or Linked In: Pacita Juan.