Iloilo: The Philippines Premier Culinary Destination

9th Ilonggo and Western Visayas Heritage Cooking Competition

La Paz Batchoy from Sobredos Batchoy

Discover the Flavors of Iloilo

The culinary offerings of a certain destination greatly impact the overall travel experience. To immerse yourself in a new culture, you must also sample their cuisine. In Iloilo, for example, many people know that it’s best known for La Paz Batchoy. But this city is more than that; it’s a treasure trove of culinary wonders.

La Paz Batchoy from Sobredos Batchoy
La Paz Batchoy from Sobredos Batchoy

Team Out of Town, together with fellow writers from Manila, was recently invited to visit Iloilo for the launch of “Flavors of Iloilo” cookbook. We also witnessed the country’s most anticipated regional cooking contest, called Tabuan. It aims to showcase culinary creations with exceptional flavors, ingredients, and experiences.

Flavors of Iloilo ‘Ilonggo Cook Book’ Launch

Iloilo City is known as the “Food Haven of the Philippines”. This tagline was officially given to the City of Love after an approved resolution by the Iloilo City Council in the year 2019. 

Flavors of Iloilo Cook Book by Chef Rafael “Tibong” Jardeleza Jr.
Flavors of Iloilo Cook Book by Chef Rafael “Tibong” Jardeleza Jr.
Signed Copy of Flavors of Iloilo Cook Book
Signed Copy of Flavors of Iloilo Cook Book

To strengthen the city’s promotion of its culinary treasures, the Iloilo City Government, Iloilo Festivals Foundation, Inc., together with Premiere Chef and an Ilonggo Heritage Cuisine Advocate – Chef Rafael “Tibong” Jardeleza Jr., came up with the Ilonggo Cookbook entitled as “Flavors of Iloilo.” Chef Jardeleza was also instrumental in the declaration of Iloilo City as the “Food Haven of the Philippines”.

Chef Tibong Jardeleza - Author of Flavors of Iloilo Cook Book
Chef Tibong Jardeleza – Author of Flavors of Iloilo Cook Book
Chef Tibong Jardeleza signing copies of the Cook Book
Chef Tibong Jardeleza signing copies of the Cook Book

The First Lady of Iloilo City, Mrs. Rosalie Trenas, has also made a great contribution to making this dream project a reality. The project promotes the City of Love and Iloilo Province, as well as culinary destinations in Western Visayas and the Philippines. This cookbook will also strengthen the identity of Ilonggos by preserving the heritage and tradition of  Ilonggos’ famed culinary arts and skills.

The two-hundred-plus page cookbook will feature beef, pork, poultry, seafood, and vegetable dishes and desserts cooked the Ilonggo way and with ingredients mainly sourced from the city and the Province of Iloilo.

Chefs and Media from Manila was given a signed copy of the Cook Book
Chefs and Media from Manila was given a signed copy of the Cook Book

The launch of the first Ilonggo cookbook, Flavors of Iloilo, happened last October 14, 2:00 PM, at SM City Event Center. For orders, reservations, and payment details of “Flavors of Iloilo” Cookbook, please contact Ms. Jennie Tamon of IFFI (0910 552 7304).

Pick-up and payment of books will be at the IFFI office, Ground Floor Ker and Co. Building Iloilo City Hall Annex from Mondays to Fridays (8:30AM-5:00 PM).

Showcasing the Ilonggo gastronomy 

Chef Rafael “Tibong” Jardeleza Jr. is an advocate of the Ilonggo heritage cuisine and the man running the event for about a decade now. He created Tabuan, the annual Ilonggo and Western Visayas Heritage Cooking Competition, which showcases local culinary techniques and the use of locally sourced ingredients that are endemic to Western Visayas.

Tabuan - Ilonggo and Western Visayas Heritage Cooking Competition 2022 Trophies and Medals
Tabuan – Ilonggo and Western Visayas Heritage Cooking Competition 2022 Trophies and Medals

The 9th edition of Tabuan was one of the most eagerly anticipated competitions among Iloilo’s upcoming culinary superstars. The culinary competition aims to continue its legacy by inviting the best of the best Chefs in the region to showcase their skills and culinary ingenuity. The Tabu-an Cooking Competition was recently held at SM City Iloilo last October 15, 2022.

Chef Tibong Jardeleza added that this year’s competition featured exciting ways to experience Ilonggo cuisine. He encouraged the participating chefs to be creative while maintaining the original taste of a particular Ilonggo dish.

In this year’s competition, they added a new segment. It was a bartending contest, where local ingredients must be used to enhance concoctions. Experienced practitioners and students from Western Visayas participated in the culinary competition.

This years board of judges
This years board of judges

The judges for the competition were chefs and food writers from Metro Manila and Bacolod. Leading the board of judges for this year’s Tabuan is Angelo Comsti, a food columnist from the Philippine Daily Inquirer. He was joined by Chef Don Colmenares, a celebrity chef from Bacolod, Chef Kalel Chan, the corporate chef of the Raintree Restaurants group, and Chef Don Baldosano of Linamnam Mnl.

One of the participants in this years Tabuan in Iloilo City
One of the participants in this years Tabuan in Iloilo City

The competition inspired local chefs to create and enhance heirloom recipes. Through this, Iloilo solidified the claim of being the country’s top culinary destination.

Lechon nga baboy talonun, liver sauce and lumpia nga ubod sang nyog.
Lechon nga baboy talonun, liver sauce and lumpia nga ubod sang nyog.
Kuyabog (stuffed pigeon squab with tuba reduction sauce, ensalada nga puso sang saging, and morisquetta tostada ala valenciana).
Kuyabog (stuffed pigeon squab with tuba reduction sauce, ensalada nga puso sang saging, and morisquetta tostada ala valenciana).
Calabasa dulce de leche quezo de bola cheesecake and batwan sorbetes duo.
Calabasa dulce de leche quezo de bola cheesecake and batwan sorbetes duo.

Winning first place in three categories, this year’s grand prize winner is from the Western Institute of Technology (WIT) in La Paz, Iloilo City. The team was headed by Achilles Capuso and Oscar J. Salazar III, together with students Glecymar Tabares, France Louise Necitos, and Randy Salvilla.

Tabuan 2022 Western Visayas Ilonggo Heritage Cooking Competition Winners
Tabuan 2022 Western Visayas Ilonggo Heritage Cooking Competition Winners

Overall, It was another great year of showcasing Ilonggo Cuisine. We are grateful to Chef Tibong for inviting us and promoting Ilonggo food to the world. After seeing this successful event, I’m hoping other provinces will follow suit. As a traveler, I believe that 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!

Iloilo Travel and Tour Packages

Check out our complete list of recommended Hotels and Resorts in Iloilo City, Philippines, via Agoda, or you may also see available Airbnb properties in the city.

Read: Best Ilonggo Dishes To Enjoy In Iloilo

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