by Jose Ricardo G. Bondoc
SAN FRANCISCO, CA -After more than five years, participants of the #FancyFoodShow at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, California are reporting the slow but steady rise of Filipino cuisine into the mainstream. According to their website, the Filipino Food Movement was founded to create broad awareness, appreciation, and enhanced investment in Filipino Culinary Arts. In just a few short years, we have gathered national attention in the press, millions of worldwide impressions on social media, and hundreds of passionate and talented individuals who believe Filipino Cuisine deserves its rightful place in the global menu.
We believe that the story of our culture, and indeed ourselves, is programmed into the DNA of each ingredient, no matter where it is grown; each dish, no matter how it has evolved; and each cook, no matter where he or she may come from. Through an inclusive & collaborative spirit, we aim to combat the challenges and negative stigmas facing our cuisine. We aim to shed light on the true value of Filipino Cuisine. We aim to build a better stage upon which to celebrate and elevate the Filipino Food experience. We aim to gather those that are working tirelessly to do the same. Together, we can influence the rising tide that will lift all vessels, with the hopes of leaving a trail of crumbs in our wake that will inspire, gather, and feed generations to come.
It is in our cuisine that we find our commonalities, rather than our differences. We identify as Filipino not only by birth but also by choice, and it is with our choice that we pledge ourselves to the promotion of our heritage through our culinary arts.
Among the many companies that attended the festival were Bethany Sales, Inc.; Century Pacific Food Inc.,; CJ Uniworld Corp.; Grand Asia Integrated Natural Coco Products Corporation; Innovative Packaging industry Corp.; Pasciolco Agri Ventures; Profood International Corporation; Islamic Da'Wah Council of the Philippines, Inc.; SL Agritech Corporation; Prime Fruits International, Inc.; Magicmelt Foods, Inc.; Auro Chocolate (Filipinas OroDe Cacao, Inc.), and San Miguel Food & Beverage, Inc.; Pearl Parmelee, Culinary Director for the Filipino Food Movement explained, "There is an understanding of the movement now. People understand and realize treat there is something special for them, whether it is something salty, sweet, savory, spicy or something different. Whether your taste in food is Spanish, Mexican, Chinese or Mexican, there is something that can appeal to you. People understand that now.
Parmelee also pointed to Chef Anthony Bourdain noting that, "He put us on the map. One thing he understood was the food and the complexity, and how each region was reflected differently in our dishes, whether in our noodles, which can be garlic, spicy, soup, or something else entirely. We're grateful to the grandfather of Filipino food..."
Gregory "Greg" H. Banzon, Century Pacific Food Inc.. noted, "If you look at the evolution of tastes, starting 50 years ago you had Chinese food, 30 years ago people started developing a taste for Japanese food, and in the past 20 years people have gotten into Korean and Thai food. Now is our moment. But this is a movement that requires all of us in the community. Companies like ours and people in the community are needed to get people to venture out with products like lumpia, pancit palabo, languish, and tocino sausages. We have taken it further.."
Pointing to their sale of lechon, Banzon also noted Bourdain, stating, "Anthony Bourdain went to Cebu highlighting lichen, which is roast pig. We are offering it in bite-sized offerings and through supermarkets and chains such as Costco. But as Hillary Clinton pointed out, this is a movement that takes a village. It will take the entire Filipino community to introduce our food, to get people to come out of their comfort zones, and to introduce Filipino food into the mainstream..."
Robert Raymond "Randy" S. Cruz, Century Pacific Food, Inc., said, "People are always looking for something new. We recently met with representatives in the form of chefs from Germany, who told us they have had sausages all their lives, but have never had anything before like langunisa or tocino. It is all about the evolution of flavors and Filipino cuisine is becoming more popular with consumers. During breakfast this morning we had people lining up to taste langunisa, tocino, and pork bellies. This is because Filipino food is unique and different and really good! The sausage remains of our most popular items. The seafood, with the lime/Chile contains calamansi, a Filipino lime, which gives it a unique taste and feel..."
Michael Joseph C. Bayani, Century Pacific North America Enterprise, Inc., said,"We have been heavily invested in events like this, which we feel are a way of showing younger generations brand legacy of Filipino foods. We do this in order to make sure the best quality products at the best affordable prices are provided to the Filipino-American community. This is the second or third generation of the Filipino community that we are introducing these tastes for. We want to familiarize people with products from the Philippines and how to but them while living in the United States..."
Sheryl C. De Leon, Century Pacific North America Enterprise, Inc., said, "For the Filipino community this is an important moment, since Filipino-American food is very popular now, and now we are targeting the mainstream market... With the second or third generation of Filipino community members shopping in Costco, WalMarts, Shaws, and Safeways, we are pushing to be visible and available to experience...."
Daisy Uy, ProFood International Corp., summed up the situation by saying, "For the past 5 years, Filipino cuisine has become more and more noticed around the world. For the past 4 decades, and we are now in 52 countries. People have become more advanced and more aware of the different, and we are excited."♦