Irish Food Board’s East Meets West Culinary Competition Top 5 Winners Announced

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East Meets West Culinary Competition Top 5 Winners Announced
Image via Cook Magazine

WED | Irish Food Board’s East Meets West Culinary Competition Top 5 Winners Announced | The East Meets West Culinary Competition in the Philippines was launched by the Irish Food Board, Bord Bia in August 2020 as part of the European Pork and Beef promotional programme. With over 100 participants in the initial round, we witnessed an exciting final cook off yesterday between the top 5 finalists. Each finalist had to demonstrate their outstanding culinary creativity utilising Irish Pork and Beef in Filipino Fusion Cuisine. The top 5 candidates, who succeeded in making it to the final, cooked their recipes in a tightly contested competition and presented them to the chef judging panel at the Grand Hyatt Manila on October 27th. The finalists include:

  • Chefs category
    • Francis Dave Lacson Selorio (Executive Chef, Iloilo City): Pork in the Country: Baked Laing-Stuffed Pork Belly with Rambutan sauce and Adlai with Pansit-Pansitan 
    • Nathaniel Deocaris (Chef, Cainta, Rizal): Crispy Pork Belly Kare-Kare with homemade Peanut Crackers and Tomato & Shrimp Fondue 
  • Culinary students category
    • Marichu Jung from Apicius Culinary Arts – Parañaque: Classic Filipino Pot Roast Beef Ribs with Pureed Baby Carrots and Balsamic Caramelized Shallots 
    • Donie Bigcas (Student – Center for Culinary Arts Manila, Roxas City): Bisperas ng Pista (The Day before the Fiesta) Braised Pork Jowl Hamonado, Sweet Potato Puree, and Pineapple Atchara 
  • Home cook category 
    • Karl Kenneth Watson, a financial advisor from Caloocan City: Medium Rare Beef Striploin with Roasted Onions, Calamansi Gel, and Bistek sauce 

This prestigious East Meets West Culinary Competition proudly announces the successful WINNER: Donie Bigcas from Capiz, Roxas City, a culinary student from Center for Culinary Arts – Manila. His winning dish “BISPERAS NG PISTA” or “THE DAY BEFORE THE FIESTA” – Braised Pork Jowl Hamonado, Sweet Potato Puree and Pineapple Atchara beat more than 100 dishes sent by participants from diverse culinary backgrounds who joined from all over the country. Donie joined the competition to be able to share his ideas and the Filipino cuisine to an international audience. He said, “I made a dish called Bisperas ng Pista. It is based on a dish called Hamonado, mostly prepared or served during a special occasion like Christmas and fiesta. I made pineapple atchara (pickled pineapple) as one of the components because of the flavor, it is bright and colorful, which reminds me of banderitas (buntings) – a decor in fiesta. I used kamote (sweet potato) to promote our crop as it is a staple food in the Philippines.”

The 1st runner-up is Francis Dave Lacson Selorio, a chef from Iloilo City. He prepared Laing-stuffed Pork Belly with Adlai in Rambutan Sauce. He shared “This dish is inspired by my childhood experience. We used to grow one or two pigs in our backyard. Everyday, my grandfather would prepare ‘laon’ (taro leaves and stalk stew mixed with rice hull) to feed our pigs.” The 2nd runner-up is Nathaniel Deocaris, a chef from Cainta, Rizal, who prepared Crispy Pork Belly Kare-Kare with Homemade Peanut Crackers and Tomato & Shrimp Fondue. The 3rd runner-up, Marichu Jung from Cavite City created a dish called Classic Filipino Pot Roast Beef Ribs with Pureed Baby Carrots and Balsamic Caramelized Shallots. Marichu is a student of Apicius Culinary Arts – Parañaque. 4th runner up went to Karl Watson, a homecook and financial advisor from Caloocan City.

Our world-renowned chef judging panel: Chef Billy King, Executive Chef Owner of Le Chef Restaurant at The Manor Hotel Baguio; Chef Mark Hagan, Executive Chef of Grand Hyatt Manila – Bonifacio Global City; and Chef Philip John Golding, Founding Chairman of Disciples de Escoffier International Asia – Philippines carefully evaluated the winning recipes to ensure they have a clean presentation and a high quality world-class standard as would be served in a well-established restaurant. 

The winning recipes of the top 5 winners were judged for the final round according to the following criteria:

  • Taste and Texture – 50%
  • Correct professional cooking & preparation -25%
  • Mise en place – 10%
  • Presentation – 10%
  • Authenticity and originality of the recipe – 5%

Chef Billy King, the much-respected Irish chef and one of the highly-esteemed panel of judges, said “I believe the five winners showed the best potential to excel in the food business. Exposure with a professional can help them refine their cooking and guide them in their culinary journey.” 

Chef Mark Hagan, the Executive Chef of Grand Hyatt Manila, BGC, was impressed by the winner, Donie Bigcas and declared “He was able to link the heritage of the old Filipino dish. The story of fiesta or holiday and family gatherings, recreating something that his grandmother used to create.”

Chef Philip John Golding, indicated that the culinary competition brought out the best among the finalists, despite many limitations in resources, time and space. “I am lucky to judge the East Meets West Competition here in the Philippines. The standard was extremely high. I am very happy that the chefs and cooks were able to come and use Irish Pork and Beef in their recipes. It is fantastic for the Philippines to see world-class products coming into the kitchen. The dishes today were of a very high standard, very tasty, there were lots of great ideas using Filipino fusion and using good stories from different provinces. Congratulations to all the young chefs and foodies that competed.”

The Irish Food Board, Bord Bia, with its aim to raise awareness of the high quality and unique taste of Irish Pork and Beef was impressed with the high standard of Filipino fusion recipes and the candidates’ appreciation of Irish pork and beef. According to Marion Rogan, EU Pork & Beef Programme manager at Bord Bia “Considering we had to adapt to a covid environment we are extremely happy with the professionalism of the candidates’ entries and the enthusiasm they displayed in the competition.” 

All the five winners will enjoy an exciting culinary tour experience in Ireland, planned for 2021. This trip will give the winners a once-in-a-lifetime chance to visit Irish food producers and top restaurants in Ireland to get a first-hand feel for the excellent quality of the Irish produce. They are set to attend a cooking class with the legendary Irish Chef Billy King plus other prizes.

For more details of the European Pork and Beef Campaign in the Philippines, visit www.europeanporkbeef.com/ph.
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