A galaxy of gastronomic delights at the 8th Culinaire

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EXCESS was the name of the game when the accredited caterers of the SMX Convention Centers showed off their capabilities in the eighth year of Culinaire.

This year, 15 accredited caterers participated in the event: Albergus, Bizu, Conrad Manila, The Creamery Catering, Event Shaker Mobile Bar, Goldilocks, Hizon’s Catering, Josiah’s Catering, Juan Carlo The Caterer, Kitchen City, The LJC Catering Service, M Catering and Fine Foods, Manila Catering, TJIOE The Caterer, and Via Mare.

Bono Gelato and Tamayo’s Catering are also among the accredited caterers of SMX, but did not participate in this year’s event.

The caterers serve SMX Manila, SMX Aura, and SM Megamall Megatrade Hall.

“A Constellation of Culinary Wonders” was the evening’s theme, so astronomical-themed dishes were the stars of the evening.

Now, this reporter hopes that nobody expects a rundown of all the plates we had during Culinaire, which was held on Sept. 5 at the SMX Convention Center in Mall of Asia, Pasay City as most of the caterers were really out there to outdo themselves — a company served three courses each, or 45 dishes in total.

Though a few dishes did stand out: the smoked beef brisket with Chipotle adobo sauce, and the galaxy chocolate cake with caramel, served with a Belgian dark chocolate dome-shaped like a ringed planet, from Bizu; the Enoki Nebulas with fish tempura, and stuffed roast chicken with tomato capsicum glaze and corn rice from Via Mare.

We also enjoyed the champorado brûlée with dilis (dried anchovy) and “pearl” (a praline shaped and colored like a pearl) from The Creamery Catering, and the scallop with Pastis Prado Wine (served on a rock) and the Crown of Pork roast from Juan Carlo The Caterer.

Plus points to Juan Carlo too, for the interesting table setting–a table laden with roses, under a canopy of fairy lights — and at the center, a woman serving as a human candelabra, her face painted in gold.

It was evident that the judges also enjoyed the centerpiece as Juan Carlo won Best Centerpiece. The same caterer also took home the prizes for Best Appetizer, Best Set-Up, and the People’s Choice Award. Bizu, meanwhile, won Best Main Course for the aforementioned smoked beef brisket, and The Creamery Catering won for Best Dessert for their champorado (sweet chocolate rice porridge), as well as Star of the Night for the grilled miso-marinated sea bass on a soba (Japanese buckwheat noodle) salad, clams, cream sauce, and tapioca pearl.

Anton Diaz of the blog Our Awesome Planet, Dedet dela Fuente of Pepita’s Kitchen and chef JJ Yulo of the blog Pinoy Eats World were the judges for the contest.

“All our accredited caterers go through a yearly three-stage accreditation process that includes documentation, hygiene audit, and site or commissary visits, and review and approval together with our Food Hygienist and our Director of Banquets and Event Services,” said Agnes Pacis, the Vice-President of Sales and Marketing for SMX.

“We look into the company background, production capacity — a minimum of 3,000 persons — a proper commissary, kitchen, banquet equipment, and staffing, service standards, logistics, and food safety management system, which is a must,” she added.

The evening also became a platform to announce the latest properties for the SMX Convention Centers.

Walid Wafik, Vice-President-General Manager of SMX Convention Centers announced the opening of SMX Olongapo, due to open later this month at the fourth level of SM City Olongapo Central. It will have five function rooms and seven meeting rooms.

Mr. Wafik also announced forthcoming SMX Convention Centers: SMX Clark in 2020, SMX Sta. Rosa and Iloilo in 2021, and SMX Cebu in 2022. SMX Clark will be the second standalone property for SMX.

“SMX Convention Center’s market dominance will help bridge the gap between local and international events coming to the Philippines. Organizers will be able to bring their events to different regions in the country. The additional spaces we will be building will only help the economy with MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conventions, and Exhibitions) creating a multiplier effect on other industries, the highest being the transportation and manufacturing sectors. We will continue to build Convention Centers that can better cater to the needs of clients and by 2022, we will have 13 properties,” said Ms. Pacis, counting existing locations in Manila (three locations), Bacolod, Davao and Cebu (two locations). — Joseph L. Garcia