MORE than a week later, my social-media feeds continue to be inundated by the Miss Universe-miss of our candidate Michelle Dee, and the supposed pampalubag-loob belated award to her for Best National Costume. (It was a costume, people! Closer to Cosplay than a representation of the Philippines’s best! Get over it.)
While many are still looking to blame someone for our country’s loss in a no-longer-relevant beauty pageant, other Filipinos have actually won awards in an international competition for food-based books.
The Gourmand Awards, created by Edouard Cointreau (Cointreau liqueurs, Rémy Martin, Cognac Frapin), recognizes the best food books, drink books, and food television for the year.
For the awards’ 29th edition held in Riyadh on November 29, several Filipino authors and their books on Philippine cuisine topped their respective categories and winning worldwide recognition for their efforts. Simpol Dishkarte (2nd Edition) by Chef Myke “Tatung” Sarthou won 2023 Best Celebrity Chef Book in the World; Clang Garcia’s Philippine Food Holidays won Best Food Tourism Book; We Cook Filipino by Jacqueline Chio-Lauri won as Best Plurinational Recipes; while the World Food Programme’s Study on Iron-Fortified Rice Capacities, Supply Chain, and Campaign Initiatives in the Philippines won as Best Subject-Rice (free).
Also recognized among the best in the world were: Salu Salo, Food, Stories, People by Saskia Zimmerman (fourth place) in books on Asia Published Outside Asia; and Mga Masustansyang Meryenda at Inumin by the Department of Science and Technology-Food and Nutrition Research Institute-Lutong Food Nutrition Research Institute for Diet Books (fourth place).
Not only does Chef Tatung’s Simpol Dishkarte lighten the load of cooking a variety of meals because of how simple the instructions are, but it also teaches us how to choose and differentiate the better ingredients fit for the chosen dish. This is the third time Chef Tatung has won the award.
He said on his Facebook page that creating Simpol Dishkarte was “a labor of love, and receiving this award validates the countless hours of dedication and hard work that went into its production. This achievement proves that hard work and perseverance do pay off.” The cookbook, published by Vertikal Books, won earlier the Filipino Reader’s Choice Award.
After receiving her award, Garcia on her Facebook page said, “I brought with me my country, our culinary heritage champions, culture bearers, and treasured food stories and destinations on every page of the book.” Philippine Food Holidays is a compendium of guided itineraries mapped during the pandemic, aimed at helping lift the culinary and tourism sectors that were badly affected by the community lockdowns during Covid-19.
Garcia was earlier named Philippine Ambassador by the World Food Travel Association, one of the leading authorities on the food and beverage tourism industry. “I’m a firm believer that the country’s cuisine is an emblem of culture, and I’m proud to have the chance to help preserve and promote our country’s unique culinary culture on a global arena through the WFTA,” she said in a news statement.
For a country which counts food as a love language, these Gourmand Awards lifts Philippine cuisine to its highest levels, and places the country among the best gastronomy destinations in the world.
MY warmest congratulations also go out to our gal pal and BusinessMirror’s former lifestyle columnist Francine Medina Marquez, whose essay Normalizing Survival won third prize at the 71st Palanca Awards. Named after businessman and philanthropist Don Carlos Palanca Sr. and sponsored by the Carlos Palanca Foundation Inc., the Palanca Awards is the longest-running and most prestigious literary competition in the country.
I bumped into Francine on Tuesday evening, as I was leaving the media appreciation party of a hotel group, and she shared the happy news. I haven’t seen her in person since way, way before the pandemic—although we’ve kept in touch through Viber or Facebook Messenger—so it was a delight to see Francine rocking her new hairstyle and upbeat about her first-time win. What an amazing recognition for someone I’ve long admired. Hugs again, sis!
ANOTHER Filipino who has done well abroad and waving our flag up high in the highly competitive tourism industry is Sonny Ang, executive assistant manager for sales and marketing of The Murray, Hong Kong. Sonny was in Manila recently inviting Filipinos to check out his hotel, an iconic landmark in the special administrative region (SAR). The 27-story The Murray used to be a government building and, at the time of its completion in 1969, was the tallest government edifice then.
“The windows are specially-designed to keep the interiors cool even if it’s sunny and hot outside,” explains Sonny. The 54-year-old building in Hong Kong’s central district has since been conserved and now houses 336 guest rooms in the ultra-luxe hotel, and a favorite among the youth and social-media influencers. It also offers unique culinary experiences, he adds, along with wellness and spaces for celebrations.
Data from the Hong Kong Tourism Bureau showed Filipinos were the second largest source of tourists among short-haul markets (excluding China and Macau). From January to September this year, Filipinos reached 474,620, accounting for some 21 percent of the 2.29-million tourists from short-haul markets. The arrivals from the Philippines were 12,126.2 percent higher than the arrivals in the same period in 2022, which means Filipinos continue to hold Hong Kong in high regard as a vacation destination. Who doesn’t love shopping and eating in Hong Kong?
As per Sonny, The Murray, Hong Kong, which was named a five-star hotel by the Forbes Travel Guide and is the only hotel in Hong Kong affiliated with “The Leading Hotels of The World,” currently offers several executive room packages for Filipinos with all-new elite experiences, to ensure guests an ultimate luxury stay when they travel to the SAR.
The Cassia Lounge Package, for instance, includes a sampling of gourmets with free-flowing Ruinart Champagne and 12-year-old Macallan or Dalmore whiskeys. A HK$1000-dining credit is available under The Indulgence Package so guests can savor a range of culinary delights at any of the hotel’s five restaurants.
Many Filipinos also usually head off to Hong Kong for holidays so they may want to check out the Christmas Blissful Package, which includes a visit to the Christmas market, a meet-and-greet with Santa Claus, along with a HK$1,500 hotel credit and a Christmas gift set from the luxury perfume brand Penhaligon’s.
While Sonny has worked for over 20 years abroad, he says he still wants to eventually retire in the Philippines. When that is, he still doesn’t know, but indeed there’s no place like home.
For reservations or inquiries, visit The Murray, Hong Kong website.