Thursday, October 9, 2014

UFS Culinary Festival 2014: Sharing Food and Restaurant Tips and Trends

Wazzup Pilipinas!

Food entrepreneurs composed of chefs, culinary experts and businessmen running restaurants, food kiosks or stalls, teaching in schools, participating in food markets, have their own buildings, or situated in malls, shared their insights on what are currently trending in the food industry.

The event started with the hosting of Luanne Dy, an Unang Hirit co-host, and the welcome remarks of Colin Butler, Managing Director of Unilever Food Solutions. Followed by RJ Ledesma as first speaker of the day who talked about the Mercator Centrale Food Market and what are currently trending in the restaurant or food industry. Executive Chef Robby Goco of the famous Cyma restaurant was second speaker who also talked about Food Trends.

RJ Ledesma used a presentation acquired from Anton Diaz's food blog which says that we need to be able to distinguish a trend from a fad and that the current trends nowadays are slow but healthy foods like organic food restaurants, white linens are out and casual fine dining is in, restaurants are now of hipster design, unconventional location but surprisingly yummy foods, Filipino dishes are in composed of Filipino ingredients, flavors and artists, and street food markets are in.

Chef Robby Goco says food trends are like fashion trends because they come and go and speak of the times. When not in current style, food appears dated, unappealing and not so fresh.Good examples are the ramen, burgers, the cronuts, and the brookies which are like the bell bottoms and loom bands which are more like a fad. Breakfast are still in demand but on the healthier side, and that food trucks never caught on in the country because of licensing issues.

Colin Butler, UFS Managing Director
Kian Kazemi of Persia Grill
Luanne Dy of Unang Hirit
RJ Ledesma of Mercator Centrale and UNO Magazine

Robby Goco of Cyma

He also adds that fusion is out and globalism with socialism is in the rise. There is the demand for global flavors but with local ingredients.There is also the interest for food with a conscience emphasizing on the keywords: sustainable, local, organic, farm-raised, free-range, pro-biotic, artisinal, heirloom, fair trade, and grass-fed.

Grazing menus are also trending where small plates, sharing plates, tapas, snacks, modern day dim sums, evolving and seasonal menus are highlighted. Examples of these are CDP in Rockwell, Rambla in Rockwell, and Mecha Uma in BGC.

More restaurants are also presenting their dishes the rustic and causal way. Food is presented with a look that is natural, on the plate, and where some are even presented on wooden plate. An entry is placed like it fell effortlessly on the center of the plate -natural plating, and edible garnishes like fresh herbs are sprinkled effortlessly.

Panel discussion

There is also the Nose-to-Tail dishes where restaurants uses the whole animal including the offal, intestines, liver, tripe and cheaper, tougher cuts of meat that are braised for a long time.

Comfort food is still king, but we can elevate them by adding new ingredients, like Mac and Cheese with Lobsters, and Burgers with Artisinal Cheese.

Individualized and interactive restaurants are also trending like make your own pizza at Project Pie, Make your own Burger at the Burger Project, or Make your own ice cream at Cold Stone.

There are also now more vegetarian offerings that are healthier, a focus on superfoods, whole ancient grains are up and coming favorites like kamut, spelt, amaranth, bulgur, buckwheat, millet and quinoa. Plant-based sources of proteins and a reduction in foods with trans-fat and salt.

For the more adventurous, there are the emerging science fiction foods using new kitchen equipment, tools and food preparations like the use of sous vide machine, rotary evaporator, liquid nitrogen, low temperature ovens, and foam. 

Modern day beverages are also trending like juices, retro cocktails, craft beers, homemade brews, employing a mixologist (examples are Erwann Heusaff for Yabu, Pink panda, Niner Ichi Nana, and Hnugry Hound, and serving anything in a mason jar.

Less in now more. Minimalism is in, the purity of ingredients and dishes with very few but tasty ingredients so that the quality and flavor of each will shine through.

There is also several collaborations with big hotels and almighty popular celebrity status chefs. Filipino chefs from Michelin star restaurants coming back home for pop-up events. For example are Claude Tayag collaboration with 7-11 for packed meals, and Taal Vista Lodge using foreign chefs.

Bacon, uni, kale and everything in duck fat.

Eco stores are popping up selling healthy foods as opposed to highly processed food in convenience stores like Healthy Options.

Diet Delivery is intended for those who wants to lose weight but do not have time to prepare healthy meals,a and for those that do not want to deprive themselves. Examples are Sexy Chef, Paleo Manila, and Gourmet Guys.

Third wave coffee has been in for quite some time already. This is the movement to produce high quality coffee and consider coffee as an artisinal food stuff like wine, rather than a commodity. Example of restaurants or shops that serves third wave coffee are Yardstick, Curator, Toby's Estate, Magnum Opus, Craft, EDSA Beverage Company, and Green Pastures which is a partner of Coffee Roast Masters, an affiliate of UCC.

The last part of the morning program was a panel discussion among the food and restaurant stakeholders composed of chefs and food entrepreneurs answering questions from the audience.

The afternoon program was all about cooking demonstrations and tips provided by chefs and food enthusiasts, dieticians and nutritionists.

Outside the event venue were a few food trucks who provided the event with their specialties during lunch time.

More about the event from their official press release below:

Today’s game changers in the food industry: Sustainability, micro-targeting customers, and the power of content

More than 500 Filipino food professionals gathered at the Unilever Food Solutions Culinary Festival

Last October 8, more than 500 hundred chefs, restaurateurs, and caterers from the Philippine food industry gathered in a one day only event for the Culinary Festival 2014 hosted by Unilever Food Solutions (UFS) – the food service arm of Unilever, maker of Knorr, Lady’s Choice, Best Foods and Lipton.

This exciting culinary event pooled in together food industry experts in the Philippines to look into the latest trends and practices that are expected to shape the Philippine dining landscape. “Our mission at Unilever Food Solutions is to equip members of the food service industry with product solutions coupled with the skills and knowledge needed to run an efficient commercial kitchen nowadays,” shared Unilever Food Solutions Philippines Channel Marketing Manager Seanta Pasic-Reyes. UFS brings this to life through the Chefmanship Academy, a roving culinary training program designed to meet the diverse needs of food service professionals.

Since its inception in Germany back in 2009, the program has catered to more than a million food service professionals all over the world. The program offers a wealth of topics, combining real world insights with industry research to offer hands-on learning experiences. “This year, to be able to make this program more accessible to Filipinos, we have raised Chefmanship Academy to a bigger scale through this celebration of culinary arts with the Culinary Festival.”

In order to help address the various business and operational needs food professionals encounter each day, the festival featured three tracks in the morning to focus on the Business of Food, Impactful food Trends, and Digital and Social Marketing. Talks were led by RJ Ledesma, Chef Robby Goco, Joanna Manalastas, JJ Yulo, Chef George Lizares, and Pong Go.

The event captured three major game changing trends food professionals need to watch out for: integrating sustainability in menus, micro-targeting customers, and pushing the power of digital media.

Customization and personalization of communications play a quintessential role in creating meaningful relationships with customers, especially for those in the food service industry. This is also foundational in determining the changing behaviors and preferences of customers. RJ Ledesma has proven how the importance of an in-depth knowledge of how your customers behave and their preferences affect the way you market your brand, such as in the case of Mercato Centrale.

Factoring in the trends and eating habits of Filipinos attributed to lifestyle changes and health restrictions, chefs and restaurant owners nowadays are expected to come full circle to provide original and evolving menus to their diners, thus the need to integrate sustainability in menus. Chef Robby Goco of Green Pastures and Cyma explored sustainability trends when it comes to Filipino food source, restaurant design, and waste management to help respond to the emergence of new restaurants in the country alongside the evolving Filipino palate for more adventurous and sophisticated food.

With competition on the rise for food service professionals and given the highly digital behavior of Filipino diners today, Joanna Manalastas of has shed light on how the digital landscape is shaping the competition in food. More than just writing compelling stories about new restaurants, innovative dishes, and restaurateurs on the rise, the need for well-crafted content and visuals for online consumption goes hand-in-hand in understanding which digital properties will best work for one’s concept. The realm of social media has played an integral part in providing vivid, real-time, and shareable experiences among customers.

In the afternoon, guests were treated to a session on banqueting or large quantity food production led by the UFS chefs. Featuring recipes perfect for the coming holidays, Executive Chef Joanne Limoanco-Gendrano showcased the best ways in creating rice dishes such as Steamed Fried Rice, Chorizo Rice, and Seafood Rice for large quantities while Sous Chef Pipo Aluning followed suit by presenting his own spin on the classic Baked Sole Fish Fillet with Parmesan Dijon Mayonnaise fish recipe perfect for banqueting. Senior Sous Chef Janice Lazaga then demonstrated how to whip up Kinalderetang Rellening Repolyo, a healthier alternative of the popular Filipino dish Beef Kaldereta, while Senior Sous Chef Marilen Ingco featured the modern way of cooking and serving Sous Vide of Steak with Whipped Potatoes and Peppercorn Sauce minus the worry on maintaining the meat’s doneness and taste. Senior Sous John Paul Sia ended the afternoon sessions on banqueting with his take on the classic adobo turned into a dish of luxury fit for catering during the holiday season. Throughout the day, the culinary festival also highlighted fun booth activities and several restaurants on wheels for participants to try delicious cuisines.

“As we recognize the needs of chefs, restaurateurs, and caterers in the Philippines, the Culinary Festival successfully responds to these needs which continuously help in pushing the envelope and growth of our very own food industry,” said Reyes. “With new discoveries and the passion of all members in this dynamic industry, the future of Philippine foodservice is indeed extremely exciting,” added Reyes. For more information about how Unilever Food Solutions can help grow your food business, visit

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