Western Visayas has always offered myriad flavors that have left a lasting impact on those fortunate enough to try them. Dishes like chicken inasal, La Paz batchoy, pancit molo, and kadyos baboy langka (KBL) come to mind. Much of these unique Western Visayan staples are featured in the Flavors of Iloilo cookbook, authored by culture and cuisine champion Rafael Jardeleza Jr., more fondly referred to as Chef Tibong. Food heritage, after all, is an important factor in keeping cultural traditions alive and thriving through the years.
In keeping with the spirit of shedding light on Western Visayas’ traditional flavors, the Tabu-an Annual Western Visayas Ilonggo Heritage Cooking Competition and Food Fair, organized by Chef Tibong, comes back bigger than ever on its 10th year. Tabu-an, “meeting place” in English, is a cookout that has culinary teams from all over the region come together to help promote traditional cooking methods and make use of Iloilo’s local ingredients.
This year’s judges were a selection of notable chefs and food heritage icons, such as TV chef and Manila Bulletin columnist Sandy Daza, Simpol Kitchen host Mike Tatung, Food Writers Association of the Philippines president Michaela Fenix Macabenta, travel blogger Melo Villareal, corporate chef of the Raintree Restaurants group Kalel Chan, and Linamnam owner Don Baldosano.
Not even the rain could stop the passionate cooks during the spectacular event held at SM City Iloilo. As the day went by, the teams worked on creating three courses (appetizer, main course, and dessert) that would stand out from the rest. Each dish was judged for its taste, innovation, use of ingredients, creativity, and mise en place or food prep. Each course had its own respective winners before an overall champion was selected.
For the appetizer round, Team 10 nabbed the top prize with their Batchoy Kag Puto, a nice take on the batchoy dish making use of egg noodles, grilled liver katsuoboshi, chicharon, fried garlic, spring onions, black peppercorn, and ginamos oil. To balance the umami explosion, a side of puto was served.
Taking home the top prize for best main course and dessert, Team 7 wowed the crowd with their serving of Callos de Iloilo con Chorizo Español y Moricillas and Postre de Panay. Although callosis Spanish origin, it has since become a Filipino staple elevated by our local chefs through the centuries. For the dessert dish, Postre de Panay was a serving of Balasan cassava bibingka, Ilonggo butterscotch sorbetes, bugnay-poached mangoes, and casuy bandi from Antique.
Team 6 from Colegio del Sagrado Corazon de Jesus took home the top prize. Served up as the appetizer was the Linugaw nga Ugat sang Baka kag Prepilia nga may Tinapa, a warm serving of rice porridge with beef tendons, beef tripe, and smoked fish. For the main course, Bat-ang nga Pata sang Kanding sa Vino sang Bugnay kag Tablea Tsokolate, a sweet and savory serving of braised goat shank in bugnay wine and tablea chocolate. Their winning dessert was a sweet serving of Dinulce nga Ube Sorbetes, Pastel de Leche, and Quezo de Bola Pinipig (candied ice cream, milk cake, and tuile of quezo de bola and pinipig).
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