Joan Roca. Virgilio Martinez. Yoshiniro Narisawa. David Thompson. Lea Cohen. I’m not sure sure if the names ring a bell to you, but to Hard Core Foodies like me, they are Rockstars. And they are just a few of the numerous internationally renowned Chefs from around the world to fly into the Philippines to grace Madrid Fusion Manila 2016!
Madrid Fusion Manila’s theme for 2016 was “The Manila Galleon: East Meets West”, which coincided with the 450 Year Anniversary of the Galleon Trade that linked Asia with the Western World. I was fortunate enough to be invited to Madrid Fusion Manila’s Welcome Night, graciously hosted by SM Mall of Asia and SM By The Bay, giving the delegates a chance to hobnob with some of the most prominent chefs in the world!
The original Madrid Fusion is held in Spain every year, and is one of the most important Gastronomic Congresses in the world. Madrid Fusion Manila The Welcoming event was held at the North Fountain of SM By The Bay. I was apprehensive about it being an outdoor venue at first, because we are a tropical country after all, but all those fears were dispelled once I felt the gentle seaside breeze that has helped SM By The Bay become one of the hottest nightspots in the Metro.
Since this was the only Madrid Fusion Manila welcome dinner for the VIPS from around the world, The SM group really went all out in its mission to give its guests a taste of what Filipino hospitality is all about.
Apart from the elaborate stage set up, the plaza was lined up with well known food purveyors from the local scene who were more than happy to have their food loving guests sample some of their specialty dishes!
With the Chefs and other high profile personalities still at the event being held at SMX at SM Mall of Asia, this gave me an opportunity to check out the Food Exhibitors! Here are some of the dishes that caught my attention:
Lechon is at the heart of every Filipino Celebration, so it was only appropriate that our guests from around the world feast on our glorious Suckling Pig. With it’s crackling skin and moist, flavorful meat, it was Elar’s Lechon that ably represented our proud nationally treasured dish.
Though they are more known in the catering world, K By Cunanan showed that they can stand toe to toe with the big name restaurants when it comes to quality of food. The Honey Nut Shrimp was one of the most in demand items of the evening!
For me, it was the Ensaymada pudding that was mind blowingly delicious, which was drizzled in Salted egg Caramel, and topped with minced salted egg.
Whenever Vikings is part of an event, you can be rest assured that their award winning “Binusog Na Lechon” will be the crown jewel of their display. A Lechon Belly Roll is stuffed with flavorful adobo rice, fermenting the pork meat with its infusion of herbs and spices.
But the Vikings team also had some more tricks up their sleeve, including this stunning Angus Ribeye Stuffed with Ox Tongue, String Beans, Banana Buds, Bok Choy and crumbled peanuts.
Iconic restaurant Cafe Adriatico served up their signature Callos with French Bread, and it was a big hit with the delegates!
One of my favorite discoveries of the evening was Kai Catering. Their dishes really appealed to my palate: Case in point... The Grilled Bacon Cuapo. The Cuapao Bun is filled with a slab of grilled, Thick Cut Bacon and slathered with Garlic Aioli, a dash of mustard, and garnished with a bit of Arugula. I went back for more so many times, I was contemplating wearing disguises in my last few visits so it would be less embarrassing.
And how could I resist their Chicken Skin Yakitori? For those that were feeling guilty, there were also Chicken meat and Shitake Mushroom Yakitori options!
Another winner from Kai catering was the 10 Hour Roasted US Beef Belly Taco. Made with a Scallion Kimchi, Vinegared Red Onions, and sprinkled with grilled corn kernels. It was nothing short of magnificent.
Soon, the North Fountain plaza was filled with people, as the delegates from the main event, made their way to the Welcome Party. Even before the festivities began, the international delegates began dancing!
The Plaza was abuzz upon the arrival of Joan Roca, the Head Chef of the highly acclaimed El Celler de Can Roca, his Three Michelin Star restaurant. El Celler De Can Roca was named “Best Restaurant in The World” by Restaurant Magazine for the year 2015, so having Chef Joan here in the flesh was truly a great honor. Chef Joan was #SpottedAtSM, posing for photos with his adoring fans.
Also #SpottedAtSM were Popular Filipino Chefs, Edward Bugia (Pino, Left) and JJ Yulo (Pinoy Eats World, second from left) Miguel Vecin, (Bar Pinxtos, Far Right) and respected food and lifestyle writer Bea Acosta (Click The City), mingling with New York Based Fil-Am Chef, Leah Cohen (Pig and Khao) and her fiancee.
The delegates from around the world were captivated by the Pinay Beauties manning the Tanduay Rhum Booth.
I also bumped into one of my blogger idols, the Lovely Jin Perez of Jin Loves to Eat!
I couldn’t resist getting a photo myself with pretty Chef Leah Cohen!
The Highlight of the evening was when the Chefs from both the East and West were called on to the stage one by one for a ceremonial toast as a way of showing all the guests of Madrid Fusion that they are always welcome in our country.
The night was capped off by a spectacular fireworks show by the bay, that left the delegates spellbound!
Madrid Fusion Manila got off to a roaring start, and the Welcome Party Hosted by SM Mall of Asia and SM By The Bay was the perfect way to get the festivities started! Food is truly an amazing way for people from different cultures to bond and become closer together. Congratulations to the Department of Tourism, and everyone behind Madrid Fusion Manila, and the SM Group for making this event a smashing international success that we as Filipinos have every right to be proud of!