Madrid Fusion Manila (MFM) 2017, which highlighted Filipino culinary diversity with participation of top-caliber chefs, was prominently covered by global news media including Korea Joongang Daily, one of the Korea’s leading English language dailies. This year’s MFM kicked off on April 6 at the SMX Convention Center in Manila.
During the two day of the world’s premier culinary event,, the Department of Tourism (DOT), Tourism Promotions Board (TPB) PHL, Foro de Debate, and Arum made sure these chefs get a glimpse of the cultural diversity in the country on their limited engagement with Filipinos.
A smorgasbord of gastronomic goodness representing Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao cuisines welcomed these chefs to Manila, mostly first-time visitors in the country.
The gustatory offerings during the Flavors of the Philippines varied each day, from time-cherished heirloom rice dishes, to the more daring nose-to-tail cuisines, and the mighty corn.
When asked what she thinks these Michelin chefs would bring home from their brief stint at MFM, Tourism Secretary Wanda Corazon Tulfo-Teo believed they would be hard-pressed to even remember all the Filipino food they have tasted here.
“There is no single dish which can encapsulate our being Filipino. Diversity makes our cuisine unique in the world,” she went to say, debunking old notions that our food is wanting of identity.
Tony Yoo, the first Michelin chef in Korea, echoed Teo’s observation. He finds Filipino cuisines unique with the dozens of regional cuisines the Philippines has.
In an interview at the sidelines of his presentation at the International Gastronomy Congress, the pioneer of New Korean cuisine emphasized that diversity of Filipino food can propel it to become known worldwide.
“Today, food is in a crossroad where everything is now a fusion of so many influences, flavors, ingredients, culture, and techniques,” he said when asked if Filipino food can make it as big as Korean cuisine.
Former MFM featured Filipino chef Claude Tayag claims that it is already happening.
“Two, three years ago celebrity chef Andrew Zimmern pronounced Filipino food as the next big thing. And it is the best thing now,” he was quoted as saying at a forum held in the trade fair Fusion Manila.
The Bale Dutung owner believes that the beauty of Filipino dishes like adobo, sinigang is their variety. “No two adobo or siningang are the same. Diversity is an asset in itself, Tayag explained, pointing out to the best of each region is what makes up the culinary quilt.
Teo agrees, “Filipino food is so unique that compared to other foreign dishes that are prepared exactly the way they are, ours does not impose one, single way of presentation or taste. Filipino food is as hospitable as our people, so welcoming to foreign palates and tastes.”
She said this same hospitality is what endears us to the rest of the world. “Our readiness to please at all costs. And our food is but an eloquent testament to that.”
MFM 2017 have seen over 10,000 trade fair guests visiting 224 booths featuring 105 exhibitors, 10 of which were first timers. This is a little over 20 percent higher from last year’s 8,616 foot traffic.
More than 1,600 delegates joined the juicy conversations with 19 celebrated Filipino and Michelin star culinary masters from here and abroad, to talk about green, sustainable gastronomy practice that values its natural sources and local heritage.
This year’s MFM also drew together 35 local sellers of culinary tourism destinations, farms, and culinary travel sites or properties along with their 13 Metro Manila-based tour operators on a business-to-business (B2) sessions at the Culinary Tourism Travel Exchange with 25 international travel agents and buyers from Australia, China, Japan, Korea, Middle East and the US.
The B2B, conceptualized by Tourism Secretary Wanda Tulfo-Teo herself, is a response to the increasing attention on the Philippines as a center of food and gastronomy and intends to aggressively promote culinary tours to the country. (DM)
In a Manila-datelined story, Korea Joongang Daily featured Manila food festival in a full page coverage with an interview story with Korean chef Tony Yoo of Dooreyoo who demonstrated a modern interpretation of seolyamyeokjeok, a Korean barbecue dish using a traditional technique of grilling using charcoal fire and snow, at this year’s Madrid Fusion Manila on April 8.
The daily said:” It has not been easy to define Philippine cuisine. The country itself was colonized by Spain for centuries, and then by the United States, followed by the Japanese. This unique history led to a mixture of diverse cultures, which can be seen in the food culture of the Philippines. Coupled with acting as the crossroads of cultural exchange between Asia, the Americas and Europe, it has been difficult for even Filipinos themselves to understand what exactly their cuisine is.”
The national dish of the Philippines, known as lechon (roast pig), originated from Spain. Sinigang, or Filipino sour soup is said to have originated from the Malaysian dish known as singgang. The Filipino lumpia (egg rolls) and pancit (fried noodles) are heavily influenced by Chinese cuisine, it said.
“We Filipinos have been saying, ‘Why is it that Filipino food never gets out there? Thai cuisine is so well known all over the world, so is Japanese, Korean, and of course Chinese. But what happened to us?,’” said Margarita Fores, a Filipino chef who was awarded Asia’s best female chef in 2016. “I think it’s largely because of our colonial mentality…… So when people ask what Filipino cuisine is, it was really hard to put it in a box.”
According to Chef Margarita Fores, it was only recently that the Filipinos realized that “precisely the fact that we are a mixture of all these cultures is what makes us unique.”
“So the minute we stopped questioning ourselves, everyone became united and decided that it was time to push the cuisine forward.”
The Philippines has indeed been pushing forward with introducing its cuisine through the Madrid Fusion Manila (MFM), which three years ago became the Asian spinoff of Madrid Fusion, one of the largest international gastronomy conventions.
Just like Madrid Fusion held annually in the Spanish capital, the three-day event featured presentations by some of the world’s best chefs, cooking demonstrations, food tastings and trade exhibitions.
According to Fores, who helped Madrid Fusion to come to Manila, it was in fact Korea that inspired her to talk to the government, which ended up becoming the first Asian country to host the Spanish gastronomy congress outside of Spain.
“When I went to Madrid Fusion about eight years ago when Korea was the featured country, I was amazed at how your government was so engaged in bringing your cuisine forward,” she said. “During the event, Koreans came up with this kimchi truck with pictures of kimchi plastered all over it and drove all around Madrid. They also installed this big tasting counter for kimchi in the center of the venue, showcasing about 20 different varieties of kimchi in your traditional jars. They prepared this little giveaway [prize] for the participating delegates but [did not hand it over] unless they had tried all 20 varieties of kimchi.”
After witnessing how “effectively the Korean government and the private sector collaborate together to promote Korean food to the world,” Fores went straight to see then-Secretary of Tourism Ramon Jimenez, and suggested that the Philippines should be featured at Madrid Fusion. But Jimenez went a step further and brought the event to Manila.
Under the theme “Towards a Sustainable Gastronomic Planet,” MFM 2017 invited more than 20 chefs from across the globe including Jordi Roca and Alejandra Rivas Gomez of El Celler De Can Roca, Rodrigo De La Calle of El Invernadero and Kiko Moya of L’Escaleta from Spain; Julien Royer of Odette from Singapore; Gert de Mangeleer of Hertog Jan from Belgium; Josh Boutwood of The Test Kitchen and Jordy Navarra of Toyo Eatery from the Philippines; and Tony Yoo of Dooreyoo from Korea.