Philippine Daily Inquirer

Why are today’s chefs donning superhero capes?

Peggy Chan, Kirk Westaway, Mano Thevar, other industry leaders tackle burning issues at Asian Culinary Exchange

- By Angelo Comsti @Inq_lifestyle

These days, it’s not enough for chefs to come up with a dish that people will post on social media, or one that will bag them a Michelin star or keep diners coming back.

But those are the least of the chefs’ problems, since new responsibi­lities are stacked up on their plate. Apart from cooking, they are expected to invent, innovate, instruct, and inspire.

With the likes of 2019 Nobel Peace Prize nominee José Andrés stepping out of the kitchen into public service, is society demanding chefs to trade their aprons for superhero capes?

This is a question dogging the

global food and beverage industry. On Oct. 28, chefs and key food industry figures will gather in Makati to address the issue.

Food forum

As part of the Asian Culinary Exchange (ACE) 2019, which we organized and presented with Nespresso and Discovery Primea, the Singapore Tourism Board and Sommelier Selection, three highly regarded chefs from Asia will join a local panel to discuss the many roles of chefs.

Peggy Chan, who’s revolution­izing plant-based cuisine in Hong Kong at her restaurant Nectar, will be joined by Michelin-star chef Kirk Westaway of Jaan, and Mano

Thevar of the acclaimed Thevar.

They will talk about their experience­s, as well as the added responsibi­lity of making an impact on society.

Filipino chefs Margarita Forés (Grace Park, Cibo), Myke “Tatung” Sarthou (Talisay Garden Café), Tina Legarda (Bamba Bistro), and Denny Antonino (Papa Bear) will give inputs, alongside publicist Amor Maclang and restaurate­ur Nowie Potenciano.

One pervasive food trend or issue of recent years is not the exotic cuisine or how bugs and insects figure as main ingredient­s, but how restaurant­s are looking after the welfare of their employees.

Amid the global shortage of good quality chefs and the drive of the younger generation to create a healthy work environmen­t, many chefs and restaurate­urs are facing the challenge of staff sustainabi­lity and the need for positive change in the toxic workplace.

Western chefs have addressed the issue by jacking up their starting salaries or giving three days off a week. René Redzepi of Noma went as far as offering his longtime dishwasher a partnershi­p in his restaurant.

In the ACE 2019 Forum, we will find out what’s being done in establishm­ents all over Asia about this particular issue and the social responsibi­lity of chefs.

One-night takeover

Invited foreign chefs will take over, simultaneo­usly, three restaurant­s in Manila for one night.

On Oct. 29, Chan will run the kitchen at FOO’D by Davide Oldani in BGC, Taguig, and serve five courses celebratin­g local fruits and vegetables.

On the menu are purple corn taco with langka and fried gabi, lentil tart with aratiles, and dessert of rambutan, pickled ginger granita and dayap gelée.

Chan, a conscienti­ous consumer and vegetarian for almost 20 years, has been championin­g transforma­tive, rule-breaking, plant-based cuisine in Hong Kong, introducin­g diners to a flavorful world of seasonal food, and chefs to sustainabl­e and responsibl­e


Buttermilk puri, crispy pork with sambal aioli sandwiched in betel leaf, smoked vindaloo pork rib, crab biryani with Madras curry, Masala chai creme brûlée—this innovative Indian fare is the reason Thevar in Singapore has been getting rave reviews. It’s barely a year old and the Keong Saik bistro has been packed, thanks to Penang-born chef Manogren Thevar who draws inspiratio­n from his childhood memories and impressive experience at star-rated restaurant­s Pure C and Waku Ghin.

Discovery Primea’s Flame restaurant will be transforme­d into multiaward­ed Jaan by Kirk Westaway, as he serves inspired British cuisine by the English chef. His restaurant recently received one Michelin star and it’s largely due to the excellent service and signature menu based on Westaway’s heritage.

For one night, guests can enjoy his beautifull­y plated golden beetroot with goat’s curds, soft poached hen’s eggs with caviar and cauliflowe­r, 36hour short rib with chestnut mushrooms, and BBQ lobster with warm squash soup.

The local food scene has been lackluster lately, with the absence of big events such as Madrid Fusion Manila. Hopefully, the Asian Culinary Exchange will reinvigora­te the industry, help us keep up with the times, and give people something delicious to chew on.

 ??  ?? Kirk Westaway
Kirk Westaway
 ??  ?? Mano Thevar
Mano Thevar
 ??  ?? Peggy Chan
Peggy Chan
 ??  ?? Jaan’s golden beetroot, English goat curds
Jaan’s golden beetroot, English goat curds
 ??  ?? Thevar’s “chetinaad” chicken roti, pepper and pickles
Thevar’s “chetinaad” chicken roti, pepper and pickles
 ??  ?? Thevar’s crispy pork, sambal aioli, betel leaf
Thevar’s crispy pork, sambal aioli, betel leaf

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