Food and Leisure

2014 Manila Food and Wine Festival: A celebration of food for a cause

Alixandra Caole Vila - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - What do you get when you put together 12 of the country’s best chefs and food experts, give them a food truck for a kitchen and assign them ingredients limited to a particular color?

Just the most innovative menu, a thrilling competition, and another successful staging of the 2014 Manila Food and Wine Festival (MFWF): A Philippine International Food Fest.

And it was definitely a success as hundreds of foodies, spectators, gourmet enthusiasts, and simply anyone who loves a great meal lined-up for the exciting Food Truck Competition  at the SM Mall of Asia Grounds. The food truck competition was the kick-off activity of the food fest spearheaded by the Board of Directors of MFWF for the Culinary Education Foundation (CEF), the social arm of The Cravings Group.

In partnership with the Department of Tourism (DOT), the event became more than just a chance to try the dishes of popular names in the Philippine culinary scene. It was also made more exciting because it tested the skills and creativity of the chef-competitors.

This year’s theme, "From Farm to Fork," paid homage to the country’s abundant and fresh produce that make Filipino dishes not only more delicious, but sustainable and healthy as well.

Food Truck Competition

Spectators and visitors definitely had the time of their lives trying the delicious fares prepared by the competitors. Twelve chefs and food experts teamed up to form six teams which represented ingredients based on their team colors.

The pair of Marvin Agustin and Peter Ayson (Purple Team) whipped up some mouthwatering dishes using purple cabbage, eggplants and grapes. Chefs Xandra Pauco and Rosebud Benitez-Velasco (Orange Team) wowed audiences with their Sriracha Salmon Cake with Spicy Oven-roasted chickpeas.

Nadine Tengco and Erin Banzon (Red Team) impressed with their Lasana de Tortillas and Ensalada de Taco.  Chefs Ian Padilla and Michel Cottabarren (Yellow Team) creatively used cheese in their menu: Chicken-con-shitake and mac-chowder topped with grated malagos cheese.

Brett Halfpap and food blogger Erwan Heussaff (Black Team) made an impression with their T.E. Beef and Peking Co. Duck Sliders.  Chefs Tristan Encarnacion and Nino Laus (Brown Team) delighted the crowd with their scrumptious sandwiches filled with whole-roasted calf.

The powerhouse judges for the battle included participants of last year’s food truck challenge: Chefs Sau Del Rosario, Robby Goco, and Bruce Lim.

It became more than just a competition of talent, however, as each team had their own gimmicks just to get the crowd to line up for their food truck. The Black Team’s instant bar with Heussaf as bartender was a crowd drawer. The Yellow Team made use of a giant projector screen to show what was happening in the kitchen, while the girls of the Red Team looked sizzling hot in their salsa attires.

Winners for the evening

In the end, the following were able to get some special awards based on the cooks’ performances: The cute chefs of the Brown Team were noted for having the ‘Most Avid Fan Base.’ The Beautiful chefs of the Orange Team won the Grace Under Pressure Award for being cool throughout the competition.  The Flashiest Chef Team award went to the Yellow Team, while the Black Team were cited for the Most Innovative Dish. The Red Team also won the Most Online Team Sales Award and was the most successful for being the first to sell 400 meals.

The Purple Team, on the other hand, was loyal to the theme and got the Most Sustainable Dish Concept Award. This team was also announced as the Best Food Truck team during the gala night.
Festival with a cause

All proceeds during the Food Truck War will be used for the scholarship of 250 less-fortunate individuals via the CEF program. It is CEF's dream to provide 250 more scholars the chance to take up a culinary education for a promising career in the food industry. Last year, the successful 1st MFWF was able to support 250 scholars from all over the country.

Aside from the Food Truck competition, the festival also included special deals with participating restaurants, and a gala evening at Solaire Resort and Casino featuring dishes by Chef Sau del Rosario and Solaire Executive Sous Chef Mateo Ragonjan.











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