The Manila Food and Wine festival gets more colorful

Julie Cabatit-Alegre (The Philippine Star) - November 6, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Who was it who said that a colorful plate is a healthy plate? Colorful fruits and vegetables are good for your health.

“Fill your plate with the colors of the rainbow,” is health and wellness guru Deepak Chopra’s advice. “What pleases the eye pleases the body.”

Color is the underlying theme of the Food Truck Competition in this year’s Manila Food and Wine Festival (MFWF). The Culinary Education Foundation (CEF), the social arm of the Cravings Group of Companies, in partnership with the Department of Tourism, organized the four-day event, which opens on Nov. 21.

With the “From Farm to Fork” concept, “we pay homage to the country’s abundant and fresh produce that make Filipino dishes not only more delicious but also healthy and sustainable,” says Anne Certeza Palmares of the Center for Culinary Arts (CCA) and MFWF director.

With some of the most recognizable names in the food industry, the participating chefs will compete in pairs, working on a preselected color theme that will dictate the ingredients they will use. The Purple Team, composed of chef Peter Ayson and Marvin Agustin, will use purple cabbage, eggplants and grapes, while Xandra Pauco and Rosebud Benitez-Velasco of the Orange Team will use oranges and carrots in their dishes. Nadine Tengco and Erin Banzon of the Red Team will use tomatoes and beets. 

Cheese will be featured in the dishes by Ian Padilla and Michel Cottabarren of the Yellow Team, while food blogger Erwan Heussaff and Brett Halfpap of the Black Team will serve the popular Black Burger. Tristan Encarnacion and Nino Laus of the Brown Team will use different meats as their main ingredient.

The Food Truck Competition will be held at the SM Mall of Asia Concert Grounds on Nov. 21. The panel of celebrity judges includes participants in last year’s food truck competition, namely, chefs Sau del Rosario, Robby Goco and Bruce Lim, who says judging his peers in friendly competition will not be an easy task.

Chef Robby, an advocate of the “farm to table” revolution, will be watching out for how the chefs use local produce and bring them up to his flavor standards. Chef Sau, who has spent years promoting organic and sustainable sources of ingredients, says, “We should support our small farmers.”  The food festival is one way of raising awareness for the cause.

“We have long been championing this cause,” says Annie Pascual-Guerrero, the hardworking and visionary founder of CCA and CEF. She takes special pride in the ISO certifications her Cravings Group has received for their commitment to environment-friendly practices such as organic gardening and proper waste management, the first in the country’s hospitality industry to be given such recognition.

Chef Sau, who joins CCA as kitchen director, will prepare a special four-course dinner at the Solaire Resort and Casino, together with Solaire culinary director, chef Wolfgang Fischer, for the Charity Gala Night on Nov. 24.  Proceeds from the gala dinner will fund CEF’s scholarship program for deserving but less fortunate individuals such as out-of-school youths, and give them a chance to get a culinary education for a promising career in the food industry.

Last year the first MFWF was able to fund 250 scholars from all over the country. They hope to support even more this year, with the target of graduating 500 by next year. A number of these graduates have already found jobs in the various restaurants of the Cravings Group.

MFWF has also partnered with leading establishments to offer diners exclusive deals through the MFWF Discount Card, which is good for the whole month of November. “This card gives diners first dibs on what’s new from their favorite ‘green’ restaurants,” Palmares noted. Participating restaurants include Corazon, Crisostomo, Elias, Felix, Madison Bistro, Casa Roces, Epicurious, The Blackboard by Chef Michel, Lucia Ristorante, Nomama, Chef Jessie Rockwell Club, Brasserie Girolle, Echo, The Wholesome Table, Todd English Food Hall, Black Pig, Green Pastures, Cyma, Mother’s Garden, and Rustique Kitchen.

For more information, contact Paula Seriritan at 623-6907, ppseriritan.cravingsgroup@gmail.com, or visit www.mfwf.ph.


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