Arts & Leisure

Food: When East meets West

Posted on April 07, 2016

MADRID FUSION, the important Spanish culinary congress that serves as a launchpad for new cooking techniques, new trends, and a way for chefs, young and old, to learn from each other, rolls into town again. The culinary event will be held in the SMX Convention center this week.

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The theme of Madrid Fusion Manila 2016 will be “The Manila Galleon: East Meets West,” so many of the lectures which are the convention highlight, tackle the movement of ingredients and cooking techniques around the Spanish world, with speakers from the Philippines, Spain, Mexico and Peru, among others.

The first Madrid Fusion in Manila was held last year at the same venue. “Everything, the concept, would be the same as last year,” said Arnold Gonzales, Officer-in-Charge, Media Relations and Communications Division, Marketing Communications Department from the Tourism Promotions Board of the Philippines (TPB); while discussing how this year’s conference Madrid Fusion Manila would differ from last year’s during a press conference held in a restaurant in SM Mall of Asia. “Everything, the concept, would be the same as last year,” he said, noting however, there are more booths in the trade exposition this year, held alongside the lectures and lunches all throughout the event.

He also emphasized what Madrid Fusion is all about: “Madrid Fusion Manila is not a food fair, it’s not a food show. It’s really a ... culinary event... a master class, if you may say so.”

“Our objective was really to highlight the Philippines, to position the Philippines as the gastronomy capital, at least, here in Asia,” he said.

“Madrid Fusion Manila is a brand under Madrid Fusion. So why not... having a Madrid Fusion Manila in Singapore; Madrid Fusion Manila in, I don’t know, Kuala Lumpur, for example. But that’s a long shot,” he said.

“When you promote a destination, it is not just the spots per se. So you have to think of the overall experience of the tourists,” discussing how food tourism has become a priority.

He added as well: “I think it’s about time that our cuisine is known internationally... when you go overseas, there’s always Thai food, Chinese food. Why not Filipino food for the mainstream?”

With the coming elections, Madrid Fusion, as a project by the current administration’s Department of Tourism, might be discontinued by the next administration. “There’s going to be a change in administration, and we hope and pray that the next administration will continue... this project,” Mr. Gonzales said.

“It will only keep on improving,” he said, again discussing last year’s Madrid Fusion Manila, as compared to this year’s. “I have faith in confidence that it will just keep on improving. Of course, we always learn from our experiences; in fact, the implementation of this year’s Madrid Fusion was relatively a breeze for is, rather than last year.”

Nineteen chef presenters will be expected this year, with Joan Roca from Spain’s legendary El Cellar de Can Roca creating a lot of buzz. Among the other speakers are, from the Philippines, Michael Aspiras, Tatung Sarthou, Amy Besa and Romy Dorotan; from Spain, Oscar Calleja, Fernando Perez Arellano, Ricard Camarena, Jordi Butrón, and Dani García; from Mexico, Enrique Olvera and Jorge Vallejo; Kevin Cherkas (Indonesia), Leah Cohen (USA), Yoshihiro Narisawa (Japan), David Thompson (Thailand), Nurdin Topham (Hong Kong), Jungsik Yim (South Korea), and Virgilio Martínez (Peru).

The topics run the gamut, from “Dry Broths” to “Flavors that Sailed Across the Seas,” “Coriander or parsley? European and Asian influences in Mexico” to “New Mediterranean tradition; from plate to tapa/from tapa to plate.”

Aside from the talks, there will be a number of other events including beverage tastings and presentations on Spanish and Philippine delicacies.

There will be a number of seminars and “tunnels” at the trade expo section of the event. Seminars include: “The Power of the Soil Single Vineyar Terroir,” Brandy de Jerez, Spain’s No. 1 Spirit Drink,” “Cold Cuts: Everything in the Pig is Good,” “Sherry, World Famous Spanish Fortified Wines,” “Jamon Iberico Bellota. Simply Unique.”

Another part of the event is the Flavors of the Philippines Festival, a month-long cultural and gastronomic feast which is being held all around the country. There will be food festivals, “dinners with the Stars,” special Flavors of the Philippines restaurant menus, roving food trucks, bar crawls, gourmet markets and other gastronomy-related cultural activities.

One of this is Tapas: Spanish Design for Food, an exhibit which focuses on Spanish design influenced by, and created for, food, which is ongoing at the Metropolitan Museum of Manila until June 16.

Then there is the Ruta de Tapas, special tapas offered by select restaurants around the metro which are on offer until April 30. Participating restaurants are Barcino’s, Tapella, Terry’s, Vask, Cirkulo, ArroZeria Pablo, and The Black Pig. -- JLG

For details visit the Madrid Fusion Manila Web site at Madrid FusionManila will be held from April 7 to 9 at the SMX Convention Center, Pasay City.