TWO major culinary events—13th Hotel, Restaurant Tourism (HRT) Weekend and the 10th National Food Showdown (NFS)—successfully took place at the CAP-John Hay Trade and Cultural Center in Baguio City over the weekend Typhoon Lawin barged into Northen Luzon.
Hosted by the Hotel and Restaurant Association of Baguio (HRAB) from October 19 to 21, the HRT Weekend also featured the only nationwide cook-off in the country, where over 2,000 professionals, mentors and students showcased their skill and creativity in the kitchen.
At the opening ceremony, Department of Tourism Undersecretary Kat de Castro and Presidential Communications Office Assistant Secretary Ana Marie Banaag lauded HRAB for featuring local agricultural products in their competitions, as well as their efforts in promoting the hotel and restaurant and tourism sector.
“We are exceedingly glad that we have the support of the hotel and restaurant sector in the tourism department’s efforts to attract tourists, local and international,” De Castro said.
Banaag for her part zeroed in on the well-chosen NFS theme “Bringing farm to the table,” citing that it is aligned with President Duterte’s 10-point socio economic agenda, especially the promotion of rural and value chain development that is geared toward increasing agricultural and rural enterprise productivity as well as rural tourism.
Banaag said, “We salute your efforts to bring the country’s local agricultural produce into the world’s culinary spotlight through your various competitions for professionals and students nationwide.”
Baguio City Mayor Mauricio Domogan and HRAB officials headed by chaiman emeritus lawyer Moises Cating and its president, Baguio Country Club general manager Anthony De Leon, joined the ribbon-cutting ceremony that signaled the opening of the event.
De Leon said that the HRT Weekend’s “Agree to Agri: Putting our Best Food Forward” theme was a clear manifestation that the industry in the region has already leveled-up and is prepared to face the challenges of the fastest growing industry in the country today.
“As our country undertakes transition in our economic, social and political landscape under the new administration, our industry is likewise challenged to continuously pursue raising our standards, change the norm and leave our comfort zones, innovate new ways to enhance the tourist and guest experience, while making tourism development sustainable and inclusive, albeit globally competitive,” De Leon said in his speech.
Meanwhile, the National Food Showdown with the theme “Bringing the Farm to the Table,” which has always been held in Manila, proved to be just as successful in the summer capital.
“This is the first time that NFS was held outside Manila and we’re very honored that it was held here in Baguio,” said De Leon who also explained that the showdown NFS will now travel to different regions in the country to showcase the culinary talents in the provinces.
For this edition, Luzon’s representative, the Magsaysay Center for Hospitality and Culinary Arts [comprised of Prince Jeffrey Tan, Jaime Banez Jr. and Carla Felize Cruz coached by Joan Pineda and Michael Navarro]won the grand prize for “Chef Wars,” one of the major competitions in the NFS.
Visayas sent a Cebu contingent from Shangri-La Mactan comprised of Christopher James Solamillo, Analyn Bantucas, and Betty Jane Facturan coached by Adolfo Lopez. Mindanao, on the other hand, had Cagayan de Oro-based Monster Kitchen Academy in competition, comprised of Vahjna Mae Babia and Honasan Macapaar coached by Cathy Dado.
Other highlights of the culinary tournament included: Kitchen Category (Soup Kitchen, Fruit and Vegetable Carving, Amuse Bouche, and Pasta and Sauce, while the Bar Division showcased Flairtending, Cocktail Mixing, and Mocktail Mixing. The Desserts Bracket featured Petits Fours, Pralines, Cupcakes, French Pastries, and Cakes, as the Hospitality Group showed off skills in Entrepreneurship, Travel and Tours, Events Planning, Housekeeping, Bellmen, Floral and Bouquet Design, Centerpiece Design, and Ice Carving.