Taste of Australia
AUSSIE DIPLOMACY MATTERS - Steven J. Robinson (The Philippine Star) - April 25, 2019 - 12:00am

Diplomatic meetings are often serious events. We exchange greetings and quickly get down to the affairs of state. My experiences in Manila have been similar to the countless exchanges I’ve had the world over. Except for one major difference. My Philippine hosts often follow up opening pleasantries with another question: ‘Have you eaten?’

Hospitality and sharing food is a Filipino trait that is an inseparable part of the culture of doing business here. I’ve been delighted to be introduced to local flavours from provinces I’ve visited as well as the vast range of tastes available in Manila. Fresh buko juice with Agriculture Secretary Manny  Piñol, and sharing Maranao sweets like tiateg and dodol during my visit to Marawi have been some highlights.

That’s why it makes sense for Australia to share its own modern food culture as another way to deepen our ties with the Philippines. This month, to coincide with the Philippines’ celebration of its National Food Month, we are presenting ‘Taste of Australia,’ supporting great food made with fantastic fresh Australian produce.

Taste of Australia is part of our year-long Australia now cultural program across Southeast Asia. We are showcasing the vitality, diversity and innovative capability of our youth and connecting future leaders across the region. And what better way to do that than over some good food and wine?

Many readers know of Melbourne’s famous laneway cafes and Sydney’s fine dining restaurants, having fish and chips by the beach, or a BBQ in a park. Our food and coffee culture is a part of the Australian lifestyle. And the range of cuisines available in Australia reflects Australia’s cultural diversity. Taste of Australia is a celebration of that diversity.

We will share examples of modern Australian flavours with people who may not be aware of the range of food available. And for those familiar with Australian tastes, it will be a chance to learn new things or re-stock trusty favourites.

Taste of Australia is also an example of the benefits of openness. Australia’s modern food culture has been shaped by decades of migration and the exchange of people, ideas and culture.

Openness to the world is vital to economic growth. Thanks to trade, consumers in the Philippines can buy Australian beef and lamb, taste different fruits and vegetables, and drink our award-winning wine. And we benefit from being able to serve a fast-growing market.

More immediately though, Taste of Australia will bring to Manila the popular Australian chef, Adam Liaw. Following his famous win in 2010 on the TV cooking show MasterChef, Adam Liaw has gone on to be admired for his talents in the kitchen and his work elsewhere.

Adam uses quality ingredients, and cooks in an uncomplicated way to make delicious meals that can be enjoyed with family and friends. He also hosts a TV show ‘Destination Flavour,’ which you can see here on Metro Channel and the Asian Food Channel. 

On Saturday, I invite readers in Manila to come and meet Adam at Greenbelt 3 where he’ll talk about his cooking philosophy and Australia’s culinary landscape. You can get some inspiration from watching his cooking demonstration, can shop for Australian products and sample Australian produce in an outdoor market.

And you can also support young Filipino culinary talent in the first Taste of Australia cook-off Masters, to be judged by Adam, restauranteur chef Jessie Sincioco and chef JP Anglo, an alumnus of Sydney’s Le Cordon Bleu, and former judge in MasterChef Philippines.

Next time you are preparing your favourite food for your family and friends, I hope you will share with them a taste of Australia.

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(Steven J Robinson AO is the Australian Ambassador to the Philippines. Follow him on Twitter @AusAmbPH) 




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