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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Kulinarya Throwdown Shows Off Bay Area's Emerging Filipino Cuisine

Posted By on Tue, Aug 17, 2010 at 12:26 PM

click to enlarge Halibut escabeche from hotel and restaurant consultant Edgar Grajo. - JUN BELEN
  • Jun Belen
  • Halibut escabeche from hotel and restaurant consultant Edgar Grajo.
It's exciting to witness how Filipino cuisine is slowly (and rightfully) getting noticed in the Bay Area. There was the Chronicle piece last week that raved about the new wave of trendy Filipino restaurants in the Bay Area. There's the ever-expanding menu of Filipino food in the city's vibrant street-food scene. And there was Hapa SF's phenomenal pop-up dinner last Saturday at La Victoria that showcased extraordinary Filipino pulutan dishes created by chef William Pilz.

Then there's Kulinarya, the Filipino cooking showdown sponsored by the Philippine Tourism Department, in conjunction with the city's annual Pistahan event. Last Sunday, Bay Area chefs, self-taught home cooks, and Filipino food aficionados battled it out in Kulinarya's semifinal round, presenting their take on classic Filipino dishes to a panel that judged according to creativity, presentation, and taste.

click to enlarge Lamb shank caldereta by Cocoy Ventura, chef at Mina in Las Vegas. - JUN BELEN
  • Jun Belen
  • Lamb shank caldereta by Cocoy Ventura, chef at Mina in Las Vegas.
This blogger shared judging duties with Kelly Degala, chef of the Academy Café at the California Academy of Sciences; Thomas Weibull, executive chef of Swell; Cindy Mendoza, of San Francisco's Asian Culinary Forum; Lennie Buenaflor DiCarlo of xroads Philippine Sea Salts; Ging Reyes of ABS-CBN News; and Teresita Paynor, wife of Consul General Marciano Paynor Jr.

Three chefs from a field of six in both the Professional and Amateur divisions were chosen to advance to the finals round, for which they will prepare a four-course meal in a live cooking demonstration. The chefs competing in October's finals are Cocoy Ventura, Edgar Grajo, and Kristela Mendoza. Ventura worked at Francis Ford Coppola's Rubicon Estate before becoming the executive chef of Mina in Las Vegas. His lamb shank caldereta ― lamb stewed in tomato sauce strewn with caramelized vegetables ― demonstrated clean and well-balanced flavors.

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Jun Belen

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