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Madrid Fusion Manila brings the future of food to the country

After months of preparation and hard work from  both the government and private sectors, the future of food is finally here in the country’s capital. Madrid Fusión Manila  opened its doors to an international delegation who eagerly awaited the discussions of some of the most renowned and revered names in the culinary world.

Madrid Fusión Manila’s first day was historic marked by talks and exhibitions that showcased Spain and the Philippines’ shared cultural heritage, as well as the passion for innovation of the two countries’ respective chefs. The three-day gastronomic congress was opened by Department of Tourism (DOT) Sec. Ramon Jimenez, Jr.

He said that Madrid Fusión Manila will confirm the Filipinos’ belief that “the best food and the most enjoyable experience is when food is shared with family and friends.”

Madrid Fusión President José Carlos Capel added that the Spanish delegation, most of which are awarded several Michelin stars, had a lot to learn from the Philippines. He also reminded everyone that the Philippines is part of Spain’s rich culinary treasure.

Capel added that the event was an opportunity for the two countries to learn from each other.

On the first day of the congress, most of the discussions centered on familial or regional roots, local ingredients, respect for tradition and passion for innovation.

The first speaker was el rey or the King of Spanish cuisine in Manila, Júan Carlos de Terry, who delivered a highly informative talk on Spain’s culinary roots. He also illustrated Spain’s influence on Philippine cuisine which was coursed through the New World. Assisted by chefs Heny Sison and Rommel Hinlo, de Terry executed a pinakbet making use of garum, an ancient ingredient brought by the Phoenicians to Spain which makes use of the innards of red meat tuna, which in turn is similar to the Pinoy bagoong.

One poignant point in de Terry’s talk was when he praised the late culinary Philippine icon, Nora Daza, to whom, he said, generations of Filipino chefs owe a great deal of gratitude due to her pioneering work.

Following de Terry was Quique Dacosta who talked about the many facets and uses of rice. In the first part of his talk, Dacosta presented three traditional ways of cooking rice: dry, creamy and soupy.

“Rice is the medium or bridge of flavors. There is so much more to rice though. Its by-products have a myriad of uses.” He ended his presentation with a delicate socarrat, topped with aioli, lemon juice, wild herbs and garlic flowers.

Chef Fernando Aracama shared his childhood experiences of growing up in the province savoring sour fruits such as green mangoes and kamias. Aracama prepared food that characterized his Negrense family roots: his Mamá’s burong mangga (pickled green mangoes), a kinilaw na talaba, candied santol and finally, a hearty KBL (Kadyos, Baboy, at Langka) with a broth soured with batuan.

The guests and the chef-presenters then feasted on the sumptuous lunch sponsored by the Department of Agriculture and curated by chef and food writer Angelo Comsti. The dishes presented was a representation of the various cuisines in Luzon, but with a modern twist. Some of these were kinilaw, laing, morcon, and leche flan enriched with pig’s blood.

After lunch, world-renowned chef Elena Arzak, daughter of Júan Mari Arzak, spoke on how her Basque ancestry never fails to appear in the innovative dishes she and her team create. Arzak thrilled the participants with showcases of molecular gastronomy and introduced them to cocina frondosa (leafy cuisine), which maximizes tree or vegetable leaves as either a medium of cooking or a major ingredient in the dishes. In an impassioned talk, Arzak spoke of her team’s relentless quest to creatively produce dishes that are sustainable, and that will lead people closer to nature.

Following Arzak was the lively Myrna Segismundo who shared the coconut tree’s numerous uses, and how the Spanish chefs can sustain livelihoods and enhance their own food if they bring home with them any of the by-products of the versatile tree. Among the dishes she presented was a deconstructed ginataang halo-halo.

Segismundo suggested that it is time that Philippine cuisine be marketed and introduced through the different flavour profiles of ingredients unique to the Philippines: matamis (sweet), maalat (salty), maasim (acidic), mapait (bitter) and malinamnam (umami).

Francis Paniego then presented a sensory talk on Spanish marinades and innovative ways of cooking the lowly offal such as hearts, ears, snouts, blood, tendons, brains and kidneys. Examples of the dishes included a tempura-inspired way of cooking lamb ears and pork skin prepared as ramen, spaghetti and callos. He also asserted the importance of tradition, his regional landscape and its produce to the cuisine he produces.

“Our kitchen is always inspired by our region. We update the old tradition of cooking offal through a rigorous process. Creating new dishes is like giving birth: there are birth pains.”

Finally, Mario Sandoval closed the evening with a mouth-watering presentation on the science of roasts. Sandoval demonstrated the precision by which he and his team prepare their famous cochinillo (roast suckling pig). He also reiterated that one thing non-negotiable is taste.

“We believe in the motto ‘In Taste We Trust’. We can deliver a well-constructed, aesthetically-pleasing dish but the taste should always be priority.”

All in all, Madrid Fusión Manila’s first day saw a gathering of passionate individuals who are committed to promote cuisines which are rooted in tradition and fuelled by an innovative spirit. From the congress, participants were able to learn that fusion happens when cultures compliment and interact with one another, and when individual men and women help each other innovate for more appetizing, sustainable and healthier cuisines.Opening on the same day was the trade exhibition with 165 booths, 30 of which are from Spain.  The Spanish pavilion featured seminars on wine, brandy, Jamon Iberico and cold cuts.  Meanwhile, seminars on Philippine heirloom rice and chocolates were the highlights of the Philippine pavilion.  The tunnels, a new experience in trade exhibitions, were busy with guests lining up to experience Philippine cheeses, jams, honey, nuts and grapes, Philippine liquors and cocktails paired with chorizo, among others.

For information on the chefs and the activities, please visit http://madridfusionmanila.com.

About Madrid Fusión Manila
In April 2015, as part of the “Visit the Philippines Year 2015” festivities, the eyes of the entire world will focus on Manila with the staging of Madrid Fusión Manila. This global event is envisioned to showcase an encounter between Spanish and Filipino chefs to celebrate 300 years of shared history.

Highlighting the Philippines as a culinary center of excellence in Asia, Madrid Fusión Manila presents a unique opportunity for chefs, food aficionados, and food-and beverage company professionals to come together, learn new things and share their talent, expertise, as well as products to the market.

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