Filipino chefs shine at Madrid Fusion
Chef Myke Tatung Sarthou last week became the first Filipino to speak in the auditorium of Madrid Fusion, one of the world’s largest and most respected gastronomic congresses.
Last year, Basque Chef Chele Gonzalez spoke about his Philippine culinary journey, introduced by his good friend Chef Andoni Aduriz of Mugaritz, internationally renowned for his culinary creativity.
The year before that, Chefs Myrna Segismundo and Margarita Fores became the first Filipinos to give a talk at Madrid Fusion at the trade area of the event.
Tatung, after being introduced by F&B Report Editor in Chief Angelo Comsti, began his presentation with a documentary on Philippine salts.
The chef expressed his advocacy for using local salts as well as his frustration on having to import salts into a salt-producing country.
“We have one of the largest shorelines in the world with 7,107 islands but we import salt,” he lamented.
His documentary showed a 500-hectare salt farm in Pangasinan and his discussion with a salt engineer. His talk touched on how salt is used in Philippine cooking: In preserving fish, as bagoong, and as buro.
“One thing very important to the Filipino palate is salty food in the form of sea salt and salt as an agent of fermentation,” Tatung explained,” We create dishes, condiments that use salt and (apply fermentation) to make products like the patis or fish salt, bagoong or fish paste, and buro … a fermented rice paste very popular in the Philippines.”
After touching on salts, he replayed a video from the talk he gave at Madrid Fusion Manila 2016 on Mindanao cuisine.
He emphasized that distinct culinary practices in the south of the Philippines had been around even before the arrival of the Spaniards.
He then cooked a fusion of two Mindanaoan dishes: The Palapa of the Maranao and the Tihi Tihi of the Tausug.
Palapa, he explained, is a traditional Maranao delicacy used as a condiment using toasted coconut, chili, lemongrass, sakurab (Muslim Mindanao scallion) and ginger.
The most interesting cooking process for the palapa is the burning of the coconut shell until it becomes coconut shell charcoal. “But it doesn’t taste bitter,” Tatung noted. “It tastes very much like toasted coconut.”
Tihi Tihi, on the other hand, is a Tausug dish of coconut-turmeric rice stuffed in sea urchin shells.
For his demo, Tatung rolled out a variety of seafood including crab meat, sea urchin, and sea bass in the palapa and placed on top of the tihi tihi. The very curious Madrid Fusion audience was impressed.
“Indigenous cooking defines subcultures in Philippine cooking history,” Tatung concluded.
Tatung really brought his A game and gave a presentation on the level of the world’s best at the Madrid Fusion conference.
He also did two dinners in Madrid: A solo number last Monday at El Club Allard, formerly a private club, now a 2 Michelin starred restaurant; and a four hands dinner with Mario Sandoval last Thursday at the Hotel Orfila, a former palace, where Myrna Segismundo was the featured chef in 2015.
For Tatung, this experience proved that Philippine has so much to offer the world. “With Madrid Fusion, foreign chefs and media are taking Philippine cuisine more seriously. … Imagine Michelin-starred chefs asking me for recipes or to teach them techniques they have never seen before,” Tatung said.
Indeed we do. And in focusing the spotlight on Mindanao, Tatung has also made us realize that we have so much to discover within our country ourselves.
After Chef Tatung’s talk, Tourism Department Director Verna Buensuceso took over the podium to invite the international audience to come to the Philippines for Madrid Fusion Manila 2017.
A cocktail reception was held Tuesday evening to launch Madrid Fusion Manila, attended by Spain’s most esteemed chefs including Elena Arzak, Andoni Aduriz, Asturianos owner Alberto Fernandez and Venezuelan Chef Maria Fernanda di Giacobbe.
Madrid Fusion Manila 2017 will be held from April 6 to 8. Visit madridfusionmanila.com for updates and details.