What is slow food? Obviously, it is the opposite of fast food. What is fast food? The synonyms for fast food from Google were the following: convenience food, ready meal, processed food, junk, etc. According to Chit Juan, president of the NextGen Organization of Women Corporate Directors (NOWCD), the slow food movement started in Italy in 1986, when Carlo Petrini was concerned with the introduction of the “fast service restos,” a better term for fast food. The Philippine group was formed in the early 90s, which included renowned Chef Beth Romualdez. In 2012, Chit Juan attended the Terra Madre Salone del Gusto event in Italy and was convinced to be active in the movement, which advocates good, clean and fair food. Soon thereafter, she formed the Slow Food Manila community, while others formed their own groups in Negros, Kalinga, Cavite, Pangasinan and other areas of the country.

Chit says that Slow Food helps preserve food heritage and food cultures all over the world as it has presence in more than 100 countries. It is a grassroots movement that includes artisans, farmers, and food producers, chefs and consumers. The focus of the movement is on biodiversity and the preservation of food cultures, best expressed in the Ark of Taste living catalogue, where about 95 of our native species are listed for the world to see. Some of these are kadyos, criollo cacao, yellow cattle, black native pig, familiar fruits like duhat, kamias, macopa, mabolo, etc. Chit says many more can be included as native to the Philippines. Italy has over a thousand, being the prime mover of the global movement.

NOWCD in collaboration with Slow Food Philippines had a wonderful food tasting event called “Savor Slow Moments with Slow Food” at Joel’s Place Proscenium, Rockwell on May 16. The NOWCD women were transported to a new world of contemporary “grocerant,” or a hybrid modern grocery, specialty store and restaurant. Joel’s Place, founded by Donnie Tantoco, warmly welcomed the “Alpha Ladies.” He narrated its history, concept, which opened in December 2023 and was named after his late brother Joel.

Joel’s Place was captivating, a feast for the senses with the vibrant colors of fresh flowers, fruits and vegetables complemented by the scent of fresh bread and other culinary delights. The NOWCD ladies were treated to a gastronomic sampling of food using Slow Food principles curated by Chef Beth. She has been with the Rustan’s Group and opened 32 outlets in Tagaytay Highlands. She spent time in Europe where consumers know where their food comes from — always with a story, with provenance. In the Philippines, consumers don’t know. “No kuwento, no kwenta.”

Chef Beth taught us how to taste vinegar with sugar cubes and sample different kinds of olive oil with apple slices. Starters pako and farro salad and main courses creamy risotto and pork skewers were paired with appropriate wine. She also introduced three types of artisanal salt produced with danger of being extinct: Tibuok salt, one of the world’s rarest salts from Bohol filtering sea water through ashes, Sugpo salt from the Pangasinan salt beds that become Sugpo ponds during rainy season, and Tultul salt, or solid cooked salt from Guimaras. My own family produces natural sea salt in Dasol, Pangasinan and just discovered that it is called Sugpo salt.

Chit says that everyone can contribute to the advocacy through something we do three times a day: eating! We can trace the source of food and be conscious to protect and promote local food, traditions, ingredients, products. It is also a way of honoring the farmers.

The NOWCD’s Slow Food event at Joel’s Place was an educational and fascinating experience. Special thanks to Donnie and Frances Yu, Chit and Chef Beth, as well as the NOWCD Events committee with director Sherisa “Baby” Nuesa (she’s “scared of kitchens”), chair Karen Batungbacal, with members Gianna Montinola, Raissa Hechanova, Teresa Javier.

Do you know where your food comes from? What do you serve during your board meetings? Your family meals? Let us all be slow food advocates — good, clean and fair!

The views expressed herein are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of his office as well as FINEX.


Flor G. Tarriela was former PNB chairman and now serves as board advisor. A former undersecretary of Finance, she is lead independent director of Nickel Asia Corp., director of LTG, Inc. and FINEX. A gardener and an environmentalist, she founded Flor’s Garden in Antipolo, now an events destination.