WHEN everything old becomes new again.
That is how the fourth serving of the Madrid Fusión Manila (MFM) will be rolling out next year, as world-acclaimed chefs come to the Philippines to talk about native ingredients and traditional cooking techniques.
In a speech last Friday, following the signing of a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with Spanish organizers for MFM 2018, Tourism Secretary Wanda Corazon T. Teo said: “In 2018, the gastronomic world is facing a third revolution—from haute cusine introduced by French and modern gastronomy techniques perfected by Spanish. The chefs of today’s world are now going back to their roots, looking into pantries, so to speak, and discovering what is available—locally produced ingredients, forgotten age-old techniques, and making them responsive to our time.”
The fourth edition of the popular gastronomic event will be held from April 19 to 21, 2018, at the SMX Convention Center, and will carry the theme “Innovating Tradition”.
Teo led the MOA signing for next year’s Madrid Fusión Manila, along with DOT Undersecretary for Tourism Development Planning Benito C. Bengzon, and Foro de Debate’s Lourdes Plana and Iñigo Iribarnegaray of Vocento.
Madrid Fusión Manila is the only Asian edition of the popular Spain-based international gastronomic event. It aims to promote the Philippines as the center of gastronomy in Asia, by gathering multiawarded and popular chefs from all over the world in a three-day series of lectures and presentations attended by culinary students, local chefs and culinary workers.
“For our first two years, we were establishing the Philippines as a center of gastronomy, but now that the awareness is building, we need to come up with the tour packages already to further promote the country as a culinary destination,” said Verna Buensuceso, DOT director for market development, and MFM project director.
Foreign travel and tour operators met with their Filipino counterparts during the Culinary Tourism Travel Exchange during the MFM 2017, to discuss collaborations and partnerships in culinary tour programs.
“We want to have more buyers and tour operators abroad coming for the promotion of Philippine culinary and farm tourism next year,” Buensuceso stressed.
Several Michelin-starred chefs have confirmed their participating in MFM 2018, such as Mexico’s Roberto Ruiz (Punto MX, 1 star); Pepe Solla (Casa Solla, 1 star); Diego Gallegos (Sollo, 1 star); South Korea’s Mingoo Kang (Mingles, 1 star); Singapore’s LG Han (Labyrinth, 1 star); Aito Jeronimo Orive (Iggy’s in Singapore, 1 star); Japan’s Hajime Yoneda (Hajime, 2 stars); and Chicago’s Curtis Duffy (Grace, 3 stars).
Other chefs guesting in MFM 2018 include Javier Estevez (La Taqueria), named Gastronomic Ambassador of Madrid, and Filipino-American Paul Qui of Kuneho in Austin, Texas, winner of Top Chef Season 9, and Best Chef Southwest awardee from the James Beard Foundation in 2012. Qui was supposed to have participated in this year’s MFM, but he was arrested for assaulting his girlfriend in March, just a month before the event. According to published reports, the chef had admitted that substance abuse led to his spiraling out of control in the weeks leading to the assault and unlawful restraint incident. Foro de Debate’s Plana said more Filipino chefs have been invited to participate in next year’s gastronomic event.
In an interview with Business Insider in August, Bizarre Foods host Andrew Zimmern reiterated: “I think Filipino food is…you know, I’ve been calling it for five years. It’s just going to keep getting more and more popular simply because of the variety of ingredients and European techniques that are found in that food.”
Many Filipino restaurants have, in fact, been recognized by several food critics and trade publications over the years, including New York’s Purple Yam of Amy Besa and Chef Romy Dorotan, Qui’s namesake restaurant in Austin and, most recently, Bad Saint by Chef Tom Cunanan in Washington, D.C. Cunanan, who was in Manila in April to personally attend the MFM, is a James Beard nominee this year for Best Chef, Mid-Atlantic.
At Friday’s event, the DOT chief also handed out tokens of appreciation to event partners, guest chefs, sponsors, media partners and supporters, associations and schools, supporting agencies and event manager for the record-breaking MFM 2017.
“This project has effectively bound all these sectors together. We are rallying behind one common goal of establishing the Philippines as a center of gastronomy on this part of the world. We are making great headway. And for this, we are thankful to all of you,” Teo said.