THE food industry is filled with fanatics who brand themselves as foodies. Over time, foodies have not only hailed food as mere fuel for the body but have elevated eating to a way of life. With that, the food industry undergoes a constant re-invention to keep up with evolving consumers, primarily foodies who have become more demanding with what is served to them.

As a contribution to the evolution of the Cebuano food industry, Unilever Food Solutions held Chefmanship Academy 2016 in Cebu Grand Convention Center last May 17, the first of its kind seminar/workshop initiative in Southeast Asia. The event offered lectures on the latest food trends, modern food plating and food costing to various entrepreneurs and restaurant owners in Cebu who were in attendance. At the same time, food samples were made available to guests, offering well-made and carefully studied recipes that would be a good addition to any get-togethers or family meals. These food samples included laksa, miso teriyaki ramen, nachos with pulled bbq beef, ensaladang talong, roast beef, lychee mocktails and potato bread. All the guests were provided with all the recipes to these delectable culinary creations of Unilever.

“The fresh and exciting recipes are the results of months of research and development by the UFS culinary experts,” said Brando Santos, senior sous chef of Unilever Food Solutions (UFS).

Santos also delivered a lecture regarding the latest food trends and modern food plating, providing insights to various local entrepreneurs regarding social media which is one of the variables that has greatly changed the demands of consumers.

“For our diners, we have to be relevant. It’s important to do trends because the first thing that diners do before eating is not to pray but to use Instagram,” Santos said.

“When they enter the restaurant, the first question that comes into their mind is, ‘is the food Instagrammable?’ Second is, ‘is it Snapchattable?’ That’s the generation today.”

A lecture on food costing was delivered by Chef Joanne Limoanco-Gendrano, the executive chef of UFS making restaurant owners realize the importance of food costing. Proper food costing provides a more accurate cost scenario of the food items being sold so that profits are clear and losses are minimal. However, it is not easy and is sometimes not done the right way.

“It is easier said than done. It’s very hard to control because number one for establishments who have large menus, the bigger the inventory, the harder it is to control things and keep the cost down. Second, food is highly perishable. If no one eats in our restaurants, our production and ingredients will go to waste. So you have to be able to manage ingredients in such a way as to keep the spoilage very low. Third is, sometimes there are too many people involved in the process. Last, it is very difficult to assess losses; you can’t watch over your business 24 hours a day,” said Limoanco-Gendrano.

Indeed, as the event by UFS zeroed in on a point, the food industry needs to continually evolve and try to keep up with the varying trends and techniques to continue and sustain respective businesses.