MANILA - While distance may separate us, we are all truly united – especially in Southeast Asia – when it comes to our love and passion for good food. Across the border, we see a shared history and influences woven into our dishes, creating cuisines that are similar and yet still very distinct.
From Brunei to Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, Vietnam, Myanmar, and, of course, the Philippines, our unique culinary heritage speak of similar histories. In this sense chefs are also historians, helping to narrate our cultural stories through amazing dishes and cuisines.
At the recent ASEAN Food Festival, held at Ayala Malls Vertis North, one of the newest, modern developments found in the bustling metro of Quezon City, local celebrity chefs took part in an exciting undertaking, celebrating Southeast Asian cuisine and our historical/ culinary ties with our ASEAN neighbors. The festival coincided with the 50th Anniversary of the ASEAN, and was the culminating activity of the “Flavors of the Philippines” Campaign.
At the four-day festival, held in partnership with the Department of Tourism and the Tourism Promotions Board, the country’s renowned celebrity chefs including Chef Gene Gonzalez, Chef Myke Tatung Sarthou, Chef Rob Pengson, Chef Claude Tayag, Chef Vincent Veluz, Chef Vincent Garcia, Chef Lowell Tolentino, and Chef Joel Francia showcased their delft palate and treated guests to the whole spectrum of Southeast Asian cuisine.
Chef Gonzalez offered a refreshing bite with Som Tam Lao(green papaya salad) with Sticky Rice, Hangley Curry with Blue Rice and Mohinga. The different spices and textures intermingled to create a truly enticing mouthful from Myanmar and Laos. Wowing the crowd with his hot, piping appetizers - Samosas, Laksa, Chicken Pianggang with kiuning rice, and popiah- was Chef Tatung Sarthou representing Malaysian and Singaporean Cuisine. Berjaya Hotel and the Authentic House of Curry also gave due pride to their Motherland, impressing gourmands with their showcase of Malaysian delights.
Celebrity Chef Rob Pengson tried his hand in fusion dishes from Cambodia and Brunei with lechon kawali soft tacos, tofu and crispy dulong sambal soft tacos, and other delicious delicacies that had guests wanting more.
Not foreign to the Filipino palate, Pad Thai and Green Curry (Thailand), Vegetarian Banh Mi and spring rolls (Vietnam) and Chicken Satay (Indonesia) by Wild Ginger satiated our cravings for full, rich flavors.
Of course, not to be outdone, Filipino cuisine also found the spotlight at the foodie fair. Seda Vertis North created the all-Filipino dish – Chicken Adobo, while other chefs presented their own delicious interpretations of regional delicacies. Chef Gene Gonzalez for Sulipan Cuisine, Chef Claude Tayagof Bale Dutung and Chef Vincent Garcia of Rainforest Kichene (Pampanga), Chef Vincent Veluz of Buddy’s PancitLucban (Quezon Province); and Chef Lowell Tolentino for EDL Farms (From Region III)
In addition to the masterful dishes by renowned chefs, guests were wooed by the homey, familiar flavors of regional favorites such as empanadas by Gloria Caluya of Rio Grande de Laoag (Region I), signature dishes and condiments from Costales Nature Farms, Siglo, Big Ben’s, Teofely’s and Antipolo (Region IVA), Curacha crabs in Alavar sauce from Alavar Seafood Restaurant (Region IX), assorted pasalubong products from MIMAROPA (Region IVB) and an array of exciting grilled street food, kakanin and deep-fried delights such as bagnet and lechon.
For the curious cooks, Seda Vertis North hosted cooking demos, welcoming aspiring chefs and homemakers to create their own “bestsellers” such as Tiramisu, Panna Cotta and other yummy desserts. And since the last day coincided with Mother’s Day, Seda Vertis North delighted all mommies with their own Mother’s Day treat!
Of course, what is a food festival without the entertainment? As foodies and gourmands dined on great food, they were also treated to a series of evening concerts which brought together the country’s hottest musicians and indie artists onstage. Reese Lansangan, Franco, Paolo Santos, SUD and DJ Mick Martinez livened up the festivities with their cool rhythms and amazing performances. Smart also pitched in a night of music with MCA Music’s acoustic princess, Sabrina.
In Southeast Asia, good food is always accompanied by good times. And at Ayala Vertis North’s ASEAN Food Festival, we were given a whole lot of both.