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Buhay Carinderia vice Madrid Fusion Manila?

Buhay Carinderia redefined by (from left) Cesar Montano, Linda Legaspi and Erwan Heussaff.

The project that actor Cesar Montano, now the head of the Tourism and Promotions Board (TPB), believes will best highlight and promote Filipino food was launched last Wednesday, April 11, with Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo leading the media ceremony.

“Buhay Carinderia … Redefined” is actually the brainchild of Erlinda Legaspi of Marylindbert International. Carinderia, of course, is the ubiquitous eatery offering affordable Filipino meals.


Legaspi has been operating the project since 2011. The Carinderia Fiesta, as it was called then, gathered over 200 eatery operators at the World Trade Center for a two-day festival and forum. To inspire carinderia owners and operators, they were also given tips by Via Mare on presentation techniques. Beauty and fashion expert Rene Salud also gave tips on grooming, personal cleanliness and presentation skills. There was also a cooking contest in nine food categories and an exhibit about the history and evolution of carinderias.

Bigger and better


This time, with the support of the Department of Tourism (DOT) and the TPB, the project will be on a much grander scale.

There will be five legs before the grand culmination of the event at the latter part of the year.

The first stop will be Vigan in June. Legaspi’s team will curate and showcase carinderias and cooks from 15 provinces of Region 1, Region 2 and the Cordillera Administrative Region, gathering them at the Vigan Convention Center on June 28 and 29.

Next stop will be Central Luzon to showcase the best of Aurora, Bataan, Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Pampanga, Tarlac and Zambales. Carinderia owners and home cooks will be gathered at the Laus Events Center in July.

In August, the carinderia owners and operators of the Bicol Region will be in Naga; in September, the best of the Visayas will gather in SMX Cebu; and in October, a grand showcase of the cuisines of the 11 tribes of Mindanao will be presented at SM Lanang Premier in Davao City.

Finally, a grand convention will be held in November or December in Manila. No specific dates or venue have been announced yet.

Carinderia for millennials


Legaspi is also reaching out to the next generation.

Her team hired Erwan Heussaff, vlogger extraordinaire with a passion for cooking Filipino food, to be the content creator of all the events.

This created a bit of humor in the Twitterverse last Wednesday, with #CarinderiaNiWanda trending. Some like @kadgonzaga predicted menus like “laing made with lardons and prawns wrapped in kale leaves and simmered in organic coconut cream.” Another netizen @econcepcion “predicted” there will be “roasted free range frog legs over Mt. Pinatubo coals charred to perfection” and @lawatsarah joked there will be “freshly baked pan de sal with a generous pate de foie gras filling served with a hot cup of Kopi Luwak.”

The jokes flowed because Heussaff is known to interpret Filipino food using healthier, sometimes more expensive, alternative ingredients. His online following, though, is exceptional.

I think it was a great move tapping him as he will undoubtedly be able to share the best of each region to his millions of followers, not only locally but internationally.

Legaspi’s team will also name Philippine Tourism Millennial Ambassadors. They will choose ambassadors from each region—the young who can speak eloquently and passionately about their region’s produce and products.

They have also tied up with the Department of Education so that culinary students and enthusiasts in the various regions can be mentored by experts from established restaurants in Manila who will be flown in for the event to train select students.

Not Madrid Fusion

On a controversial side note, Legaspi distanced Buhay Carinderia from Madrid Fusion and said the project shall not be a replacement for Madrid Fusion Manila.

Earlier, when Madrid Fusion Manila had been decided to be deferred to 2019, Buhay Carinderia would have been the flagship project for culinary tourism to fill the void. Now that Madrid Fusion Manila is set to push through in September, both projects would proceed independently.

“Buhay Carinderia is my own show that I own and trademarked,” Legaspi says. “Humingi lang ako ng tulong (I just asked for assistance from TPB) to link me to the regions and food tourism. Kinatok ko si Cesar maski hindi ko kilala. Nagpa-appointment ako (I asked for an appointment with Cesar Montano even if I did not know him),” she shares. Thankfully, they liked it so DOT and TPB are now co-presentors of the event.

Culinary tourism

I think the concept is great. I hope they are able to execute it as envisioned and with the involvement of personalities who will truly be able to promote Filipino food and ingredients across the nation and around the world.

I also suggested to Legaspi during my interview to approach Agriculture Undersecretary Berna Romulo Puyat who has been a great advocate of promoting unique Filipino ingredients like adlai, Filipino culinary historian Felice Sta Maria, and the chefs of Le Toque Blanche who have diligently and quietly mentoring aspiring chefs around the country. It would be wonderful if we could all come together to promote the food we so love.

I am personally looking forward to learning about the distinct flavors that our regions have to offer, especially the dishes of the 11 tribes of Mindanao (that would be exciting), watching it all on Erwan’s Youtube channel which I admit has great content, and hopefully getting a taste of all these dishes in November/December when they bring all these carinderia specialties to Manila. That would be one great fiesta!

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TAGS: Buhay Carinderia, Cesar Montano, Madrid Fusion Manila, Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo
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