A Battle of Taste and Tradition: 5th Western Visayas Tabu-An Ilonggo Heritage Cooking Competition Results

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5th Western Visayas Tabu-an Ilonggo Heritage Cooking Competition

As a foodie from a culturally diverse country, I understand the importance of tradition in fueling the stoves that cook the different dishes which also somehow define the heritage of Philippine provinces. Whenever I travel, I try to immerse myself in the local culture as much as I can so I can fully savor the gastronomy of these places.

5th Western Visayas Tabu-An Ilonggo Heritage Cooking Competition
5th Western Visayas Tabu-An Ilonggo Heritage Cooking Competition
Tabu-an Venue - Iloilo Convention Center
Tabu-an Venue – Iloilo Convention Center
Chef Rafael Tibong Jardeleza welcoming the participants
Chef Rafael Tibong Jardeleza welcoming the participants

So when I was invited to the Western Visayas Tabu-An Ilonggo Heritage Cooking Competition in Iloilo, I did not think twice to respond in the affirmative. I was informed that, besides the cooking competition, there will be cooking demos, inspiring talks, and trade fairs, too. I could not miss this opportunity for the world.

Turmeric, Ginger and Lemongrass Tea
Turmeric, Ginger and Lemongrass Tea
Products from Panaderia de Molo
Products from Panaderia de Molo
Mango Concentrate from Guimaras
Mango Concentrate from Guimaras
All Natural Coco Sugar
All Natural Coco Sugar
Regena Black Rice
Regena Black Rice
Tablea Chocolate Solids with Moscovado Sugar
Tablea Chocolate Solids with Moscovado Sugar

A few days later, I found myself flying from Manila to Iloilo. Before proceeding to the cooking competition, I had a chance to visit the different booths in the trade fair that exhibited organic products both by small businesses and student chefs.

Western Visayas Tabu-An Ilonggo Heritage Cooking Competition Trophies
Western Visayas Tabu-An Ilonggo Heritage Cooking Competition Trophies

Before the judging started, we were able to witness the participants cooking their unique entries. An area outside the Iloilo Convention Center building was turned into a cooking area and I’m glad we were allowed to watch the teams as they prepare each dish.

One of the participating teams of the yearly Tabu-an Cooking Competition
One of the participating teams of the yearly Tabu-an Cooking Competition
Cooking Preparation at the Tabu-an
Cooking Preparation at the Tabu-an
Locally sourced ingredients
Locally sourced ingredients

During the Cooking Competition, the challenge is for each participating team to prepare Ilonggo Heritage Cuisine of 3 dishes (Appetizer, Main Dish, and Dessert) for 300 persons. Each team is also required to prepare separate plates for display and for the judging panel.

Observing the Judges
Observing the Judges

The cooking competition was also preceded by talks from renowned Filipino chefs, like Chef Don Colmenares, and food writers, like Micky Fenix, who has been a judge in the Visayan competition since 2013. Other notable personalities in the industry who were present in the event include Joby Arandela of Zarraga Integrated Diversified Organic Farmers Association, Pamela Henares of BuroBuro Spring Farm in Negros Occidental, Celebrity Chef Myke Tatung Sarthou, Clang Garcia – a book author and TV host and Chuck Janolino of AgriPacific.

Celebrity Chef Myke Tatung Sarthou
Celebrity Chef Myke Tatung Sarthou
Chef Raphael Cristobal and Chef Jorn Fonseca of Purple Yam
Chef Raphael Cristobal and Chef Jorn Fonseca of Purple Yam

There was also a panel discussion led by Book author Ige Ramos and later on a cooking demo by none other than Chef Boy Logro himself, who turned Iloilo’s local seafood produce into culinary delights right before everybody’s eyes. Chef Raphael Cristobal and Chef Jorn Fonseca of Purple Yam also demonstrated cooking onstage in front of more than 300 guests from various Culinary schools in Western Visayas.

Grand Champion WESTERN INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY with the board of Judges
Grand Champion WESTERN INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY with the board of Judges

Competition Results

5TH WESTERN VISAYAS TABU-AN ILONGGO HERITAGE COOKING COMPETITION LIST OF WINNERS
Overall Category
Champion: WESTERN INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY
  Coach: OJ Salazar
1st Place Overall: HERCOR COLLEGE
  Coach: Ms Neset Colona
2nd Place Overall: COLEGIO DEL SAGRADO CORAZON DE JESUS
  Coach: John Paul Frias
Best Appetizer Category
Best Appetizer: WESTERN INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY
1st  Runner Up Best Appetizer: HERCOR COLLEGE
2nd Runner Up Appetizer: WEST VISAYAS STATE UNIVERSITY- Calinog Campus
Best Main Course Category
Best Main Course: WESTERN INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY
1st Runner-Up Main Course: COLEGIO DEL SAGRADO CORAZON DE JESUS
2nd  Runner-Up Main Course: HERCOR COLLEGE
Best Dessert Category
Best Dessert: WESTERN INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY
1st  Runner-Up Dessert: CENTRAL PHILIPPINE UNIVERSITY
2nd  Runner-Up Dessert: WEST VISAYAS STATE UNIVERSITY- CALINOG CAMPUS

After being inspired by all these talented chefs and writers in the industry, the cookfest began. And after a smoking battle and showdown, the young chefs from Western Institute of Technology emerged as the overall champions, followed by the team from Hercor College in second place, and the cooks from Colegio del Sagrado Corazon de Jesus at third.

Enselada nga Puso
Enselada nga Puso

The champions were coached by OJ Salazar, while Ms. Neset Colona backed the chefs from Hercor College. Meanwhile, John Paul Frias was the mentor of Colegio del Sagrado Corazon de Jesus chefs.

Kinilaw na dorado
Kinilaw na dorado

The competition also recognized the winners of three minor categories.

Inasal nga kwaho, obre and pugo appetizer
Inasal nga kwaho, obre and pugo appetizer

For Best Appetizer, Western Institute of Technology once again took the first place, with Hercor College coming at a close second. West Visayas State University- Calinog Campus was awarded second runner-up in the category.

The Western Institute of Technology also snatched first prize at the Best Main Course category with their Lengua Estofado sa Bugnay nga Vino. Colegio del Sagrado Corazon de Jesus came in at second place, and Hercor College received bronze.

Rice cake patty filled with locally candied fruits, coconut reduction and topped with ube halaya
Rice cake patty filled with locally candied fruits, coconut reduction and topped with ube halaya

The chefs from Western Institute of Technology showed everyone that they have the best of everything because they won first place yet again in the third and last category, which is the Best Dessert. Their Mantecado Ilonggo Sorbetes with Batuan Caramel and Camote Delight Duo bested the 6 dessert entries. Central Philippine University and West Visayas State University- Calinog Campus placed second and third, respectively.

Seaweeds Salad
Seaweeds Salad
Mantecado Ilonggo Sorbetes with Batuan Caramel and Camote Delight Duo
Mantecado Ilonggo Sorbetes with Batuan Caramel and Camote Delight Duo

The Western Visayas Tabu-An Ilonggo Heritage Cooking Competition that I attended is the fifth installment of the competition of the same name. The cookfest that showcased the talents of young cooks in Western Visayas is part of the two-day Flavors of Western Visayas: The Hidden Treasures, an exhibition, convention, and trade fair hosted by the Department of Agriculture Region VI, Department of Tourism Region VI, Bureau of Aquatic Resources and Commission on Higher Education.

Chefs Sandy Daza, Tatung Sarthou, and Boy Logro
Chefs Sandy Daza, Tatung Sarthou, and Boy Logro
Chef Tatung Sarthou and Clang Garcia
Chef Tatung Sarthou and Clang Garcia
Chef Don Colmenares
Chef Don Colmenares

Overall, It was another great year of showcasing Iloggo Cuisine. Thanks to Chef Rafael “Tibong” Jardeleza for inviting us and for continuously promoting the Ilonggo Food to the world. After seeing this successful event, I think other provinces should replicate this. As a traveler, I think one of the best ways to introduce a destination is by introducing a unique plate. If the palate is happy, everything else will follow. See you next year in Iloilo!

Also Read: Flavors of the Philippines: Sabores de Visayas

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