TOURISM stakeholders in Cebu lauded the country’s recent inclusion in the list of new Gastronomic-8 countries (G-8) in The Future of Food report.
They said the recognition can help boost foreign arrivals and step up the country’s tourism marketing efforts.
“The Philippines and Filipinos have always been proud of their cuisine. Food will and should always be part of a tourist’s experience and food has always been something we boast of,” said Rowena Montecillo, regional director of Department of Tourism (DOT) 7, in an interview yesterday.
Montecillo hopes the recognition inspires Cebu’s food and culinary experts to be more creative to make Cebu more popular as a destination not only because of its attractions, facilities and serices but also of its great food.
Hong Kong-based marketing and communications agency Catch On announced last Tuesday that it has included the Philippines as one of the New G-8 emerging markets of influence in world cuisine.
The Future of Food report noted that food is an important part of Philippine culture and that Filipinos take their culture of food seriously.
It mentioned that the cross-pollination of culinary influences in Philippine cuisine mirrors the country’s colorful historical influences and these influences are amplified and interpreted gastronomically for the world by a young breed of bold and tech-savvy Filipino chefs.
It also noted that as more Filipinos travel overseas, they bring with them their culture of food. Philippine ingredients and the country’s signature dishes like adobo, kinilaw, and sisig are slowly making their way into international kitchens.
“Overseas, the Philippines’ colorful influence can be found in restaurants like Jeepney and Pig & Khao in New York, or Filipino-born, Austin-based Paul Qui’s eponymous restaurant,” the report said.
“There’s a growing movement to preserve and document culinary artisanal traditions that have survived generations simply because they came out of family kitchens. We’re seeing more self-trained chefs launching restaurants, more men cooking at home, the continued move away from any notion of fine dining, the growing influence of street food, and the popularity of culinary tourism. This is the new culture of food,” it added.
Julie Najar, president of Hotel, Resort and Restaurant Association of Cebu, said the recognition is a welcome development as the DOT eyes the county as the food hub in Asia.
“The Philippines is finally getting recognition for its diversified flavors, not just for our local flavors and infused healthy recipes, but also on the international cuisine that can be found around the archipelago,” Najar said, adding that the world is starting to notice the country as affirmed by the holding of Madrid Fusion in Manila for two straight years now.
Aside from the Philippines, other countries included in the New G-8 are China, Iran, Israel, Korea, Mexico, Peru, and Vietnam.
The report said there is a new food order with an appetite for cuisine that defies conventional classification, and where dishes are “inflected” by mismatched ingredients or prepared in ways that question traditional techniques.
Moreover, it said that cross-border migrations and population melting-pots have produced a generation of “third culture chefs” that innovate their culinary traditions and are mixing ingredients and techniques in unimaginable ways.
DOT Secretary Ramon Jimenez Jr. welcomed the news, saying “the Philippines is now gaining more recognition as an emerging country, whose indigenous ingredients and culinary excellence are increasingly finding their way into world cuisine.
“Any recognition will always help boost our tourism since we can use it in marketing our destination,” said Cenelyn Manguilimotan, general manager of Cebu Parklane International Hotel.
According to Montecillo, the private sector in Central Visayas has always been creative and competitive when it comes to food. She said that even before the Madrid Fusion Manila, Cebu already held the regular event “Cebu Goes Culinary”, a platform for chefs and cooks to showcase innovative ways of cooking dishes, pastries and drinks.
During the Madrid Fusion event in Manila, Visayas participated as “One Visayas” (representing Eastern, Western and Central Visayas) and hosted the second day of the regional lunch.
Central Visayas, according to Montecillo, featured sinugbang baboy with atsara, fish kinilaw and tamales.
Meanwhile, during the World Street Food Jamboree, One Visayas was instructed to present one dish each and the organizers chose the kinupsang baboy or Crispy pork with atsara to represent Central Visayas and La Paz batchoy and tahong lumpia to represent the rest of the Visayas islands.
The four-day jamboree attracted 73,000 visitors. Among the countries represented are Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, India, USA, China and the Philippines.