“If I may play the devil’s advocate…why do we need their approval?” says chef Claude Tayag. Over recent years, Filipino cuisine has garnered much more global recognition—but how important is recognition, really?
At this year’s Asian Culinary Exchange (ACE), culinarians like chefs Tayag and Margarita Forés participated in deep-dive discussions about Filipino cuisine. “Instead of learning about the cuisine of our neighbouring countries”, ACE founder Angelo Comsti explains, “we take a deeper look at our own from the lens of the past, the present and the future.” The event also featured chefs championing Filipino food abroad and local chefs modernising Philippine cuisine, engaging them in thought-provoking debates.
Ultimately, three central themes emerged: recognition, preservation and (re-)discovery.
As one of the only chefs cooking Filipino cuisine in Paris, Erica Paredes considers Parisians’ unfamiliarity with Filipino food a double-edged sword. “I’m pretty lucky that I can introduce [Filipino cuisine] without them needing many expectations,” she says. However, Sydney-based food photographer Luisa Brimble opines that showcasing better-known dishes “like adobo, sisig and halo-halo” pushes a wealth of regional cuisines deeper into the shadows.
Conversely, local ambassadors acknowledge how far we’ve come. “If you talk about awareness before and awareness now, it’s night and day,” shares chef Jordy Navarra. Echoing these sentiments, Forés praises the advocacy of Philippine Department of Tourism Secretary Berna Romulo Puyat, the Madrid Fusion Manila congresses and the work of Filipino chefs overseas. But why seek recognition at all?
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