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.