Cooking Again! The 2013 Sabor Bisaya Food Expo and Culinary Competition

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Saturday, August 24, 2013


WHEN I saw Sandy Daza at The District last Thursday, I asked him if he was here for Sabor Bisaya. Of course, he was! Sure enough, at the Friday event at the Bacolod Pavilion, Mr. Daza was right there on the stage with Manny Torrejon and Chef Datu Pendatun judging at the Dessert Flambe Competition where the first contestants were mesmerizing the crowd with their perky Latin-inspired number.

Somewhere in the hall were familiar faces and many unfamiliar ones. Soon, one familiar handsome face came into view. It was The Man himself who put this together -- Jomi Gaston, whose brainchild is Sabor Bisaya. I extended to him a cheek and my profuse congratulations to which he said, “It (Sabor Bisaya) is getting bigger and better.” The pride in his voice was fully justified by the hordes of people coming in. The hall seemed to burst at the seams and the crush inside was unbelievable. This year, the following schools and establishment are competing: VMA Global College, LCC-B, Western Institute of Technology (Iloilo), NORSU-Dumaguete, John B. Lacson Colleges Foundation (Bacolod), Carlos Hilado Memorial State College (Talisay), Teamskills School of Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management (Dumaguete), Colegio San Agustin Bacolod, West Negros University, Southland College (Kabankalan), University of St. La Salle, Business Inn and La Planta Hotel, CASAP (Bacolod), University of San Agustin (Iloilo), Fellowship Baptist College (Kabankalan), University of Iloilo, Aklan State University, Advance Central College (Antique), Bacolod Academy for Culinary Arts, Northern Iloilo Polytechnic State College (Ajuy Campus), Virgelio’s Grill, Northern Iloilo Polytechnic State College (Concepcion Campus), St. Paul University (Iloilo), and Iloilo State College of Fisheries. Sabor Bisaya has attracted a bigger area in Western Visayas. No wonder Jomi was beaming.

For the reader’s information, Day One of Sabor Bisaya was a Tourism Summit at the L’Fisher Hotel. Day Two includes competitions (e.g. On-the-Spot Table Setting, Dessert Flambe, Supreme Fried Rice, and Nanam), a Feast of Negrense Flavors. Day Three will have the exciting Chef’s Wars, Flairtending and Bartending competitions. Our esteemed judges are big names in the culinary world: Myrna Segismundo, Sandy Daza, Manny Torrejon, Raul Ramos, Penk Ching, Marlon Casino, Tonyboy Escalante, Lita Urbina, and Datu Pendatun.

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Booths carry a variety of goods perfect for quenching one’s thirst, giving somebody a bright business idea, or helping a student with a culinary bent to decide which school to attend. Notable is Fresh Start’s piaya station where organic piaya is sold hot off the grill. Chin Chin Uy assures me that the organic label even extends to using virgin coconut oil instead of lard and that the fruit filling is the real thing. Ever heard of piaya with squash filling? How about passion fruit, or bugnay? If you want it sweet, there’s coco sugar- and muscovado-filled piaya. Just beside Fresh Start is Merci that seem to enjoy brisk sales from the non-resident participants who have friends and relatives back home awaiting their pasalubongs. This year, food booths are very few so if you go there with a hungry tummy you might end up cranky. Imagine this irony, going to a food event and not getting fed. The mall is just a couple of minutes anyway, so don’t fret.

Lots of gratitude go to the sponsors this year. The organizer of the event Hotel and Restaurant Association of Negros Occidental (HRANO) thanks the Commission on Higher Education, the Province of Negros Occidental, the City of Bacolod, Nestle Professional, Knorr, Unilever Food Solutions, Great Food Solutions (San Miguel Pure Foods), POS Gasul, SM Supermalls, and COHREP. Lots of gratitude also go to those who love good food and that’s practically everyone in Negros.

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on August 24, 2013.

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