Don Papa marries food and cocktails in a competition

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WHAT IS a dish without the drink, and vice versa? Without a dish, one approaches sin, and without drink, one courts a sort of insufficiency, and, well, choking. Homegrown Don Papa Rum encourages one to live life to the fullest with both food and drink in its Chef & Shaker competition.

The concept has been repeated in several countries across Europe, where Don Papa is popular: the Netherlands, France, and Italy. “We are happy to finally bring the Chef & Shaker competition home to the Philippines. As a brand proudly from a nation with a rich tradition in food, Don Papa Rum feels that the time is right to showcase some of our best kitchens and bars through this exciting epicurean adventure,” said Erica Larkins, Don Papa Rum Brand Manager.

The brief is simple: the chef makes a dish with the ingredients on hand during the competition — it will be held on April 8, venue to be announced) — and two bartenders on the chef’s team will vie to make a cocktail that will pair with the dish. The bartender with the better pairing is the winner, along with the winning chef.

The contestants have thus been divided into teams, each representing an animal which can be spotted on the Don Papa label. Team Tarsier will consist of chef RJ Ramos of Lampara, and Kiara Opeda of Limbo and Arnel Salungsawa of Rambla as bartenders. Team Hummingbird will include chef Tom Bascon of M Dining, Jann Anis of EDSA Shangri-La’s Lobby Lounge and Rene Montoya of Hacienda. Team Carabao will have Josh Boutwood, representing Savage, and Raoul Cornelio of Alegria and Eric Jacildo of Polilya. Team Slug will have chef Francis Lim of Tipple & Slaw and Jason Hussein-Ali of Grand Hyatt’s The Peak and Rodny Protacio of Discovery Primea’s 1824. Finally, Team Gecko is rounded up by Kiel Zaguirre of Locavore and Allius Abrazado of Grand Hyatt’s The Peak and Enzo Luna of Run Rabbit Run.

The contestants are competing for a trip to London, access to that city’s Cocktail Week, and pocket money of £1,000. The contest was launched during a party at Poblacion’s Lampara earlier this week.

“Food and mixology always seem to go together when it’s about Don Papa,” noted Monica Llamas-Garcia, Communications Director and co-founder of the brand. She notes that when they first came out with the product, the first to jump on it were the chefs. “It was really the food community that really started the support.”

Mr. Boutwood, one of the contestants, and also one of the city’s most famous chefs, can attest to that. Describing Don Papa’s potential as a pairing spirit, he said, “The spirit itself is phenomenally complex in terms of the level of balance and flavor.”

“At the end of the day, it’s the flavors,” said Ms. Garcia, pertaining to the marriage of dish and drink. — Joseph L. Garcia