F&B World - - AS ONE -

The coun­try may be di­vided by pol­i­tics, but when it comes to food and hos­pi­tal­ity, we are def­i­nitely one. This is what I re­al­ize as I put an­other copy to rest. The sub­jects for this is­sue are agri­cul­ture and tourism—two in­dus­tries that marry well. But as I wrap things up at the F&B Re­port head­quar­ters, the un­der­ly­ing theme of ca­ma­raderie or­gan­i­cally emerges and presents it­self to me in an in­spir­ing way. It’s the com­mon thread in many of our sto­ries in this is­sue and, though not bla­tant and ob­vi­ous, the topics fea­tured in the next pages are prod­ucts of “work­ing as one.”

1. The re­cent stag­ing of the chefs’ congress Madrid Fusión Manila has once again united dif­fer­ent sec­tors—the gov­ern­ment, the pri­vate sec­tor, and the food in­dus­try—to pro­duce a suc­cess­ful event that duly shows what ca­ma­raderie and col­lec­tive ef­fort can re­sult in. Egos aside, the peo­ple re­spon­si­ble for mak­ing this third in­stall­ment pos­si­ble have proven that we can stand and work to­gether, show the world what we’re ca­pa­ble of, keep up with the rest of them not just with the theme (sus­tain­abil­ity) but also with the tal­ent. Check out the plated works of our colum­nists Josh Bout­wood (a cho­sen speaker this year) and Miko Aspi­ras (a cho­sen speaker last year) to see how much prom­ise and culi­nary cre­ativ­ity our chefs have.

2. The De­part­ment of Agri­cul­ture, rep­re­sented by Un­der­sec­re­tary Berna Ro­mulo-Puyat, has been very in­stru­men­tal in pump­ing new blood in the once ill-stricken veins con­nect­ing the farm­ers to the restau­ra­teurs and chefs. Her ap­proach is per­sonal. She gets down and dirty with the women farm­ers, bury­ing her feet in mud under the in­tense af­ter­noon heat if need be. Then she ti­dies up and hangs out with the chefs in their re­spec­tive shops to find out what they need and can make good use of. That’s how ef­fec­tive she is in ty­ing the two par­ties to­gether. And the fruits of her la­bor have not only ush­ered in a healthy flow of com­mu­ni­ca­tion and co­or­di­na­tion among them, but also earned the re­spect our farm­ers have long de­served and missed.

3. And speak­ing of re­spect for farm­ers, I have noth­ing but mad props for them. They are our rea­son for eat­ing, re­ally. And the en­ergy they bring to the plate is both in­fec­tious and in­spir­ing. Rock stars in their own right, lo­cal farm­ers are chal­leng­ing chefs to come up with dash­ing dishes by pre­sent­ing them with in­gre­di­ents (turn to our photo fea­ture to find out what they are) that get their cre­ative juices rolling. No longer the “shy guy,” farm­ers have be­come more ex­per­i­men­tal, vo­cal, and col­lab­o­ra­tive, fi­nally own­ing to their vi­tal role in the food chain. And that makes things a lot more stim­u­lat­ing for ev­ery­body.

There has never been a more ex­cit­ing time to eat in the coun­try than now. And I’m sure that’s some­thing we can all agree on.

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