Sabor Bisaya underscores revolution for Filipino culinary identity

BACOLOD. Hotel and Restaurant Association of Negros Occidental president Roberto Magalona (center) with wife Cynthia and son Mark, who are also restaurateurs, at the opening of three-day Sabor Bisaya at SMX Convention Center in Bacolod City Thursday, August 22, 2019. (Photo by Erwin P. Nicavera)

THE just-opened Sabor Bisaya at SMX Convention Center in Bacolod City is highlighting a revolution on building a Filipino culinary identity, the top official of the Hotel and Restaurant Association of Negros Occidental (HRANO) said.

HRANO president Roberto Magalona, at the sidelines of the opening ceremony of the three-day Sabor Bisaya Thursday, August 22, said it is about time to develop the local culinary, the local cuisine.

Magalona said all these years Filipinos have not developed their own identity, and it seems that we need to ask for “approval” first from foreign counterparts like American, Spaniards and Japanese, among others.

“Actually, we have so much to offer,” he said, adding that “what we hope to do in the coming years is to really encourage the development of local food.”

Magalona stressed “we have to make the best because this is something that we can offer to the world.”

Sabor Bisaya, a food exposition and culinary competition held every two years, is part of HRANO’s measures to address pressing challenges in the culinary industry.

The event, which is in collaboration with the Council of Hotel and Restaurant Educators of the Philippines (COHREP) - Western Visayas, is one of the most highly-anticipated culinary events in the region.

This year’s edition is anchored on the concept of Philippine Culinary Revolution dubbed “KKK: Kataas-taasang Kagalang-galangan Kulinarya.”

The event has gathered 34 exhibitors from Negros Occidental, Cebu and Manila. They are major distributors and suppliers for food ingredients and equipment, and services.

Magalona said this is part of their measure to bridge industry suppliers to the local market especially small businesses who cannot afford to go to Manila or in other places in the country.

Aside from exhibitions, the activity also includes culinary competitions which started Thursday.

For this year, there will be 16 culinary events to be participated by students and professionals in Negros as well as those from Panay and Siquijor.

Magalona said one of the “most exciting” events is the Klasika Kulinarya, which will feature laswa and inasal cooking contest using local ingredients as well as dessert competition using mango and sago as main ingredients.

The National Food Showdown will also be held during the three-day event. Winning students will compete in the national level.

Magalona said these competitions will not only showcase the prowess of culinary students and professionals in the Visayas, but also the abundant unique ingredients of the region.

“It is now a battle of building our own identity. Instead of just complaining, we want to develop means especially in involving the young people in developing the local cuisine,” he said.

Moreover, HRANO also brought 11 experts, who are chefs, culinary educators and entrepreneurs, to conduct seminars and lectures for the students.

The association wanted to expose the students to varied experiences that can help in their development especially when they go into business in the future.

Magalona said “we have so much to give and I think that is one attraction of Bacolod City and Negros Occidental which we would like to develop.”

Even the street food, we want to develop that as it can be an attraction, he said.

“It has actually been an attraction but we want to sustain that,” Magalona said, adding that chefs outside the province have been affirming the high-level taste and culinary skills of Negrenses.


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