NEXT Saturday, for one day at least, I will try to forget about any calorie count while also enjoying good food along with good company. Checking my weight will also be avoided during that time, and the next 10 days after.
You see, I have not hit the gym or jogged in the park for close to three weeks now because of some really crazy schedules. When I am home, especially on weekends, it is “I love my bed” time.
Nothing beats having my tired and aching body in a bed surrounded with soft pillows all around after having been pushed mentally and physically during the weekdays.
But six days from now, I will make sure that I get my butt out of bed and brave the nightmarish Saturday traffic and get myself over to the Greenbelt 3 Park for Sociedad Española de Beneficencia’s (SEB) Festival de la Paella III.
Yes, that famous paella. If Spain would be known for three things and three things only, it would be the flamenco, bull fighting and, of course, the paella.
Every home in Spain cooks the paella. And there seems to be a thousand and one ways to cook that famous dish.
The festival, a brainchild of SEB Executive Director Laura San Jose, will again feature the biggest paella in the Philippines, measuring 10 feet in diameter and containing 100 kilos of rice, chicken, various seafoods, chorizo and vegetables.
According to Lally, what they will be cooking and serving on Saturday can feed 1,000 hungry individuals. Feeding time starts at 5 p.m., and is expected to last until late in the evening.
I can already imagine the long lines forming in Greenbelt during that time. I am even betting that even the regulars in that famous or infamous restaurant (depending on your perspective) directly across Greenbelt Park 3 might not be able to resist the urge of tasting the paella.
Now, if you think, it will be just your run-of-the-mill paella that will be served on Saturday, you have another thing coming. The paella will be cooked on the spot by eight of the most popular and respected chefs in the country.
The chefs include Mikel Arriet of Punta Fuego Beach Club; J. Gamboa of Cirkulo Restaurant, Carlo Miguel of Draft and 71 Gramercy; Gilbert Pangilinan of Cervecceria and Kai; Fernando Aracama of Aracama Filipino Cuisine; Jerome Valencia of Tambai Yakitori Place; James Antolin of Pastry Alliance of the Philippines; and Sito Senn of The Country Club.
Now, if that is not yet a star-studded affair of chefs, then you must be hiding in under a rock somewhere in Timbuktu for quite some time.
Outside of Chef Mikel, who is also the director for operations of Punta Fuego; and Chef Gilbert, the other chefs are officials of the LTB Philippines Chefs Association.
It is a nonprofit association that aims to bring together hotel and restaurant professionals, regardless of nationality.
A member of the World Association of Chefs Societies, LTB Philippines Chefs Association has been in the forefront of the Philippine culinary scene, with numerous projects and activities aimed to improve our local culinary standards.
I remember the previous Festival de la Paella, which was held at the Casino Español de Manila, was packed even if there were heavy rains that day, causing floods in the streets of Manila.
Trust me, during that time, outside of the paella, the chefs were treated like rock stars. Everyone wanted to talk and have a photo taken with them. I am pretty sure it will be the same thing all over again for these chefs come Saturday.
Geez, I guess I took the wrong course back in college. There are just some individuals out there, including these chefs, who get so much attention, especially from the female species.
Now, here is what has me even more excited for the Festival de la Paella, when the chefs start cooking, live music by DJ Lean & the Patiqueros, DJ Badkiss and BP Valenzuela will be blaring on the speakers.
I am a fan of DJ Badkiss. You can never peg her. She can mix together music from various genres with ease. I cannot dance even if a gun was pointed in my head but the music she puts together is something else. Outside of the music, there will also be dance performances from Centro Flamenco. It is a passionate dance with some very intricate guitar playing.
Now, with paella and flamenco dancing, all that is missing is a bull fight. Not going to happen. But maybe, just maybe, there will be drinking stations, and I do not mean water, which will pop out during the event.
Moving on, proceeds from the event, which is being organized in collaboration with LTB Philippines Chefs Association and the Ayala Malls, will be used to fund SEB projects for senior citizens in the country. SEB has brought basic medicines good for three months to 12 selected barangay health centers across the country. It has also conducted medical and dental missions in Albay, Bacolod, Busuanga and Caloocan City.
It has also co-organized with the Coalition of Services for the Elderly a training program for senior citizens for an informal community-based health service that is run by volunteer senior citizens and aligned with local health centers.
And, of course, it also has hospitalization, medical and shelter program for elderly Spanish citizens here in the country. Congratulations in advance to Lally and her team. They have conceptualized an exciting event that is expected to provide benefits to our countrymen.
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For comments, suggestions, and reactions, I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.