VICTORIAS City celebrates its annual Kalamayan Festival from December 15 to 31 and one highlight of this big event is the VMC Cook-Off held at the Bacolod City public plaza.
This is one of the ways that the city’s grand dame, Victorias Milling Company, contributes to the festival. I always look forward to this affair mainly because this gives cooking enthusiasts the opportunity to explore other ways to prepare the products of Victorias Food Corporation (VFC).
If you want to come up with your own prize-winning dishes this Christmas, go to the VFC Bacolod kiosk at 16th Lacson Street and shop for proudly Negrense-made excellent quality chorizo, ham, tocino, bacon, canned luncheon meat, sardines, bangus, and Victorias sugar.
This year, the VMC Cook-Off is on December 16 (special acknowledgment to its sponsor Petron Gasul) and it features eight participating establishments in Victorias City, namely Joe's Coffee Alley, Midori Café, Tuy'z Pizza, Victoria's Cansi House, Titay's Snack Bar, Pizza Ruperto, Victo Grill, and Marjhun's Restaurant.
These restaurants passed the discerning palates and eyes of young and dynamic chefs Don Angelo Colmenares, Mari Stelle Estrella, and Livingstone Ang are vying for the top spot at the finals.
The Victorias Cook-Off contestants were also given an opportunity to update themselves on the more sophisticated food scene through a seminar entitled “F&B Trends and Blends, and Menu Innovation: From Concept to Launch” held last December 12 in 21 Restaurant, Bacolod City.
One of the two seminar lecturers was Adolf Aran Jr. of Dine Philippines who is also president and chief executive officer of his 14-year-old management firm, Courage Asia Management Consulting and a faculty member of the Entrepreneurs School of Asia. He was formerly the general manager of Super Sumo Sam Foods Inc., the former president of Food and Hospitality Events Specialist Inc. and a former faculty member of Enderun Colleges.
The other lecturer was Chef Jam Melchor of the Philippine Culinary Heritage Movement. Chef Jam has been a regular chef for “Unang Hirit” weekday mornings. He is a contributor and food stylist for Yummy Magazine. He established Healthy Eats Manila®, considered as the only organic and sustainable diet delivery service in the metro, that aims to provide nutritious calorie counted meals and easy weight management solutions to professionals including top celebrities.
At the finals, esteemed chefs Ige Ramos, Martin del Prado and Sharwin Tee will give their valued seal of approval.
Ige Ramos is an award-winning book designer, food writer and visual artist. He is the founding editor-in-chief of Rustan’s Supermarket Sans Rival Magalogue and has designed the most influential cookbooks in the country for the past 10 years. This proud Caviteño is coming with his own books “Republic of Taste” and “Alab ng Puso.”
Martin Del Prado is not only a chef at San Miguel Purefoods but has a diverse work experience that includes chef instructor for Center for Culinary Arts Manila, food service chef at San Miguel Purefoods Culinary Center, co-hosting “Cooking with the Stars” at GMA-7, assistant photographer and even flight steward at the Philippine Airlines.
Sharwin Tee was a chef and host of The Philippines’ Lifestyle Network’s first locally-produced cooking show, “Curiosity got the Chef,” an Outstanding Lifestyle Program nominee in the Golden Screen Awards for Television. He has demonstrated his cooking skills on “Umagang Kay Ganda,” “Modern Living TV,” “Unang Hirit,” “Salamat Dok” and various radio shows on DZMM Teleradyo.
Most recently, Sharwin was tapped by the Department of Tourism to cook and host a dinner for the Japanese journalists covering Madrid Fusion Manila 2015 and was awarded The Outstanding Professional award by the Best Choice Awards 2015.
Every year, the VMC Cook-Off just gets better and better. Cash prizes are P25,000 for the grand winner, P20,000 for the first runner-up, P15,000 for the second runner-up and P5,000 as consolation prizes.
Winners will be announced on Monday.