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Duterte’s fave foods and other culinary finds of 2017

/ 05:15 AM December 31, 2017

Greatest milestone in the food industry this 2017: Miele’s Dialog Oven

And just like that, another year has gone by. As we bid another year farewell, allow me to look back on some of its highlights.

Greatest invention of 2017: Miele Dialog Oven

The biggest milestone in the international food industry this year must be the creation of an oven that will change cooking phenomenally around the world in the next few years. Miele has come up with a way to cook food evenly from the core with just the click of a finger. No more having to worry about cooking fish that is burnt outside but still raw inside, or bread that becomes soggy outside yet remains cold inside. This oven can even heat cake without melting its icing.

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I got to attend the world launch of the Miele Dialog Oven in Berlin last August and witnessed myself how a chef was able to cook a piece of raw fish perfectly as if he was cooking using a microwave oven. What made it even more incredible was that the fish was inside a block of ice. While a microwave would melt the ice without cooking the fish well, the Dialog Oven, through patented M Chef technology, was able to perfectly cook the fish without melting the ice. It is so smart it can detect which parts of the item are to be cooked and how much energy must be used for each part so that the entire food is cooked evenly, perfectly. It’s like magic!

Greatest gathering of chefs: World’s 50 Best Anniversary

In June, I was lucky to have attended the 15th anniversary of the World’s 50 Best Restaurant Awards (the only Filipino in attendance). This was held in Barcelona and featured a spectacular fiesta hosted by Ferran Adria, the incomparable chef of the legendary El Bulli, which had been named World’s Best Restaurant a record five times—in 2002, 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009—until it closed in 2011. Adria gathered Spain’s most respected chefs and food outlets, including Tickets Bar by Albert Adria and ice cream sensation Rocambolesc by Jordi Roca and Alejadra Rivas, to showcase Spain’s best to renowned culinary luminaries around the globe. Jose Andres (who flew in from the US) and Virgilio Central (who came from Peru) were among the incredible personalities in attendance.

But the highlight of the celebration was the World’s 50 Best Talks with chefs whose restaurants have been declared No. 1: Ferran Adria, Rene Redzepi of Noma, Massimo Bottura of Osteria Francescana, Joan Roca of El Celler de Can Roca, and Will Guidara (restaurateur) and Daniel Humm of Eleven Madison Park. It looked like the Jedi Council of the Food World. They highlighted the importance of valuing the earth as the ultimate food source and of going back to basics.

The World’s 50 Best Talks with the world’s No. 1 chefs – Ferran Adria, Rene Redzepi, Joan Roca, Massimo Bottura, Will Guidara (restaurateur) and Daniel Humm —Photos by Margaux Salcedo

Greatest regional festival: Pampanga Food Festival

The year did not end without the Philippine President himself showing his foodie side. President Duterte attended the Pampanga Food Festival led by “Culinarya Pampanga,” a newly formed group of Kapampangan chefs and restaurateurs, last Dec. 7 in Clark. Instagram was flooded with pictures of Pampango chefs with PDuts. Chef Sau del Rosario said the President told him that pako (fiddlehead fern) was his favorite, and that there were also a lot of pako in Davao. Poch Jorolan of Everybody’s Cafe revealed that the President likes morcon.

Great cause: “Sustainable Food, Sustainable Future” Benefit Dinner

Last September, Aurelio “Gigi” Montinola, chair of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), hosted a benefit dinner with the theme, “Sustainable Food, Sustainable Future.” Four veteran Philippine-based chefs partnered with four rising stars (The Test Kitchen’s Josh Boutwood, Black Sheep’s Patrick Go, Hey Handsome’s Nico Santos and dessert trendsetter Miko Aspiras—remember these names, their stars will shine even brighter this 2018) to create a first class, Shangri-La-worthy menu using sustainable produce.

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More than the chefs, though, the stars of the night were the ingredients: Crabs from Guimaras, tuna from Mindoro Occidental … all sourced from communities supported by WWF.

Montinola challenged everyone: “If we can convince you to modify your lifestyle to actively live sustainably, then individually and collectively, we will be helping preserve our planet for the next generation.”

Great read: Anahaw Books

Kitchen Bookstore’s Rajiv Daswani expanded his empire this year. Kitchen Bookstore is an online bookstore focused on food-related books.

Daswani has also created an online Filipiniana bookstore called Anahaw Books. It will be launched in February 2018, with no less than Gwenn Galvez, formerly of National Bookstore and Anvil, as managing director. It’s definitely something to look forward to this 2018.

Greatest talk on Philippine food: Tatung Talks Philippine Salts and Mindanaoan Cuisine at Madrid Fusion

The year 2017 began with a bang when a humble Cebuano chef was selected to speak at Madrid Fusion (in Spain). Chef Myke Tatung Sarthou, the resident chef of ABS-CBN’s morning show Umagang Kay Ganda and owner/chef of Agos Restaurant in Mall of Asia became the first Filipino to speak at the Madrid Fusion auditorium, giving an enlightening talk on Philippine salts and Mindanaoan cuisine. Together with the Philippine delegation led by the Department of Tourism’s indefatigable Verna Buensuceso, I was witness to how Tatung wowed the crowd of international culinary experts and showcased culinary items from the Philippines a lot of us didn’t even know about.

In March, the celebrity chef wowed audiences again as he showed his refined culinary skills, kicking off Madrid Fusion Manila’s Dining with the Stars as the featured chef of “Mission: Manila,” a project to promote Philippine chefs and cuisine, held at Raffles Makati. He presented Mindanaoan cuisine in a fine dining setting, putting the spotlight on a rich yet overlooked region of the Philippines. Mindanaoan food started trending in Manila after this.

In May, I was honored to have hosted a food forum organized by Tetta Tirona called “Power of Pen,” which highlighted Mindanaoan cuisine, giving the platform to speakers from the Mindanao region: Dr. Macario Tiu, four-time Palanca awardee, professor at Ateneo de Davao and author of “Davao Cuisine: Recipes of the Ten Tribes of Davao City”; Mindanaoan chef Datu Shariff Pendatun III, winner of a Doreen Fernandez essay writing contest for his piece on the cuisine of Muslim Mindanao; and Edgie Politico, a lexicographer and author of the first ever Philippine food dictionary, “Philippine Food, Cooking and Dining Dictionary”. With old-timers Amy Besa, Myrna Segismundo, Micky Fenix, among others, we had a lengthy and in-depth discussion on what defines Filipino cuisine (the conclusion: Don’t even try, let each region’s freak flag fly).

Great competition: Philippine Pastry Alliance at Mondial du Pain

In October, the Pastry Alliance of the Philippines (PAP) competed in the 6th Mondial du Pain in Nantes, France. It was a bread bake-off. The Philippines placed 12th among 18 countries, a major accomplishment considering this was the first time that the Philippines qualified. “We beat Germany!” James Antolin, PAP vice president revealed.

The team was comprised of Ana Lois Lerias (baker), Kris Edison Tan (apprentice) and Dan Basilio (coach).

The competition is held every two years and I have no doubt we will be in the top three by 2019.

Great miracle: 100 Years of Fatima

On a personal note, I was blessed to have visited Fatima with my mom and sister on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the appearance of Our Lady to the children Lucia, Francisco and Jacinta. I was also able to taste the cooking of Tia Alice, who is still alive, at her eponymous, Michelin-approved (Bib Gourmand) family-style restaurant, across the parish in Aljustrel where Lucia, Francisco and Jacinta were baptized. If you make the pilgrimage to Fatima, do visit this restaurant.

With all these memories, from the bottom of my heart, thank you, Lord, for all the blessings of 2017.

May our 2018 be even more blessed, filled with loads of delicious food and countless delightful moments! Happy New Year!

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