Fil-Am chefs bring PH cuisine to next level

By Henni Espinosa, ABS-CBN North America News Bureau

Posted at Dec 12 2012 05:21 PM | Updated as of Dec 13 2012 01:21 AM

SAN FRANCISCO – Pancit Palabok with Crisp Pork Belly, Prawns, Broth and Noodles with Soft Quail Eggs; Sisig with Chicken with Liver Pate--these were the winning dishes in this year’s Kulinarya.

Now in its third year, Kulinarya not only promises to bring Filipino food to the next level but to give chefs a chance to show what’s cooking in the Filipino kitchen.

Held at SomArts Cultural Center last Sunday, Kulinarya promises to be the biggest competition for Filipino-American chefs — vying to be the best in amateur and professional divisions.

This year, two chefs from Los Angeles competed, along with chefs from the San Francisco Bay Area.

Rene de los Santos, Philippine Department of Tourism director said, “This is a great achievement because we’re trying to make this competition national and hope that, in the future, we can bring other contestants from New York, Chicago, Honolulu and Washington DC.

Philippine Consul General Marciano Paynor hopes that Kulinarya will encourage Fil-Am chefs to open fine dining restaurants showcasing Filipino cuisine.

“If you have fine dining cuisine, then the mainstream will come and look at it," he said.

For Thomas Weibull and Justin Hulog, winning Kulinarya means a chance to explore Philippine cuisine to its fullest. Both won cash prizes and trips to the Philippines.

Weibull, winner of the professional division, worked as executive chef of Plouf seafood restaurant. "It will be great to visit and see different regions in the Philippines, try different ingredients, flavor profiles," he said.

Hulog, the amateur division champ, is the editor of the food blog, “The Palay”.

"We just have to keep pursuing when we think of how important it is to bring Filipino food to the mainstream especially here in the States. The more incredible chefs we have making incredible food and showcasing them, the better off we are," Hulog said.