Food diplomacy

THE PEPPER MILL - Pepper Teehankee - The Philippine Star
Food diplomacy
Asia’s Best Female Chef 2019 Garima Arora of Gaa (center) with Jerry and Lianne Tiu.

Cheryl Tiu founded Cross Cultures because she believes that, “food is one of the most accessible ways of exchanging cultures.” It has introduced Filipino cuisine overseas and has introduced cuisines from different countries to Filipinos.

Cross Cultures is also known for bringing the best chefs in the world to Manila, just like how it recently invited Asia’s Best Female 2019 Chef Garima Arora for a two-night takeover of Flame Restaurant at Discovery Primea in Makati City. The event was in partnership with Thai Airways and Moët Hennessy Philippines.

Chef Garima Arora, the first female Indian chef to get a Michelin star, is the executive chef and founder of one-Michelin starred restaurant Gaa in Bangkok. The restaurant was ranked 16 on Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants list, which is this year’s highest new entry.

Moët Hennessy Philippines marketing manager Trina Ching- Ramos and managing director Patrick Madendjian.

For two nights, Garima took over the kitchen of Flame Restaurant where she was joined by R&D chef Samantha Jumchai, chef Manav Khanna and coordinator Teerana Hiranyakorn.

For over two nights, around 100 guests enjoyed the 10-course menu including Gaa signatures like chicken liver and longgan on toast, which I enjoyed even if I don’t really like chicken liver; young corn served with corn butter; koji bread and ossetra caviar; and pork belly topped with coriander stems, red onions and tamarind. I loved how Garima used tamarind instead of pomegranate, which she normally uses at Gaa, in this dish. Also served was a duck doughnut and duck tongue, which I didn’t dare try.

The Gaa chefs created two special dishes just for Manila. The first one was Talangka, Khakra. This dish was composed of khakra (Indian flatbread) topped with talangka (Philippine crab fat) simmered in fresh coconut milk, red and green chili and ginger, with a salad of red onion, mint and kamias. (This dish was inspired by the team’s visit at the Farmer’s Market in Cubao with Asia’s Best Female Chef 2016 Margarita Fores. Gaita prepared for them kinilaw right in the middle of the market.)

Asia’s Best Female Chef 2016 Margarita Fores.

The Seaweed Bread, Soft Shell Crab was the chefs’ tribute to Manila. It was one of my favorite dishes that night, which was meant to be eaten like a taco. This fried soft shell crab was served on seaweed bread with mustard greens, cashew paste, custard apple, nata de coco and marigold flowers with a side of calamansi. 

All dishes were paired with Veuve Clicquot rosé and brut champagnes and Cloudy Bay wines (sauvignon blanc, chardonnay and pinot noir).

Garima certainly wowed the crowd and we all agreed she deserved the accolades she was given.

(From left) Discovery Primea GM David Pardo de Ayala and executive chef Luis Chikiamko, Gaa’s Manav Khanna, Garima Arora, Teerana Hiranyakorn and Samantha Jumchai with Cross Cultures founder Cheryl Tiu.

(For more information about Cross Cultures, visit @cross.cultures on Instagram and crossculturesbycheryltiu on Facebook or e-mail [email protected] Check out @discoveryprimea on Instagram or DiscoveryPrimeaMakati on Facebook.)

Showcasing the Philippines’ best

Tourism Secretary Berna Romulo Puyat (center) with PHILTOA president Oscar Cruz and Capiz Gov. Esteban Evan Contreras.

With its effort to boost local tourism, Tourism Promotions Board (TPB), the marketing arm of the Department of Tourism (DOT), brought together all 17 regions of the Philippines, including the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao, for the 30th Philippine Travel Mart held at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City.

Travelers were able to directly book and buy holiday packages with the best deals from hotels, airlines and tour operators. There were business-to-business sessions that allowed potential clients to meet with tour operators and resort owners during the event. The three-day “Sale ng Bayan” showcased popular tourist destinations and some of the finest regional delicacies.

(From left) DOT Region I’s Modesto Baloloy, Tourism Promotions Board (TPB) COO Marie Venus Tan, DOT Region I’s Martin Valera and TPB acting deputy COO Arnold Gonzales.

TPB’s booth showcased the country’s diverse culture. Also featured at the event were cultural performances, crafts from indigenous artisans, cooking demonstrations and a display of locally woven fabrics.

Following the theme, “Fostering Sustainable and Inclusive Tourism,” the event also promoted sustainable products and initiatives including agri-tourism products from Benguet and Capiz, handicrafts made by the Camiguingnon women, and Henry & Sons’ sustainable coffee, which aims to connect local coffee farmers to more buyers and provide educational assistance to their children.  

Tourism Undersecretary and spokesperson Benito Bengzon Jr. with Henry & Sons’ Marie Tony Dy.

(Follow me on Instagram @pepperteehankee.)







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