With 2024’s Chinese New Year just around the corner, The Farm at San Benito recently hosted a Healthy Chinese Culinary Showdown last February 3 where renowned Chef Jose Sarasola and Chef Marie Pagcaliwagan went head-to-head in a live food preparation showdown with a strong emphasis on mindful dining.
Chef Sarasola, a Culinary Arts major and a familiar face from GMA 7’s “Eat Well Live Well Stay Well,” brought his signature Filipino-fusion flair to the table, crafting dishes that showcased fresh, local ingredients with innovative twists.
The popular Celebrity Chef is a graduate of BS in Hotel, Restaurant and Institution Management major in Culinary Arts in College of St Benilde (2008). He is currently the Resident Chef of GMA 7’s Eat Well Live Well Stay Well co-hosted by Iya Villania.
Chef Jose has also dabbled in acting and has appeared in several films and TV series including the popular GMA teleserye, Love Before Sunrise where he portrays, you guessed it, a chef.
Chef Pagcaliwagan, a pioneer tastemaker and the driving force behind The Farm at San Benito’s culinary scene, presented dishes that highlighted the resort’s commitment to organic, sustainable, and farm-to-table practices.
An international award-winning chef and pioneer tastemaker at the Batangas-based premier wellness resort, Chef Marie trained extensively under renowned vegan chefs Chad Sarno (founder of Wicked Healthy) and Felix Shoener (Raw vegan chef of Fivelements).
Following the success of ALIVE! vegan restaurant Chef Marie continued her career deep into wellness cuisine as The Farm introduced PESCE, a pescetarian restaurant inspired by the Mediterranean Blue Zone Diet where the culinary showdown takes place.
Chef Marie is also the moving force behind PRANA, an Ayurveda restaurant serving energy-packed Indian-vegetarian dishes. Over the years, she has worked hand-in-hand with The Farm’s integrative medical doctors in providing detoxifying, cleansing, and nourishing cuisine to guests dealing with various lifestyle diseases and health issues.
The challenge? To create a mouthwatering, authentic Chinese New Year feast, but with a healthy twist. While the cook-off had the feel of a literally healthy competition, both chefs were very supportive of each other’s efforts as they both tried to win the hearts, minds, and palates of health-conscious guests.
Driven by the shared goal of promoting healthy eating habits during the festive season, both chefs presented stunning interpretations of classic Chinese dishes, incorporating fresh, farm-to-table sourced ingredients and utilizing healthy cooking methods. The highlight of the event was the opportunity for guests to savor the creations of both chefs, indulging in a symphony of flavors that proved healthy eating can be truly delightful.
More than just a culinary competition, the event also served as a platform to educate guests about the importance of making conscious food choices for their overall well-being. Both chefs shared their insights on how to incorporate healthy practices into traditional recipes and offered valuable tips for creating delicious and nutritious meals at home.
While admittedly not a vegan, vegetarian or pescetarian himself, Chef Sarasola said that being invited to take a part in The Farm at San Benito’s Healthy Chinese Culinary Showdown gave him a newfound appreciation for healthier cuisine. To his credit, his popular sports bar in BF Homes in Parañaque, Avenue 75 already includes its fair share of veggie and seafood fare.
For inquiries, you may reach The Farm at (+63) 918 884 8080; (+63) 917 572 2325; or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Image credits: Edwin P. Sallan