Monday, February 25, 2013

Celebrity Chef Cook-off: Day 1 of the Manila Food and Wine Festival 2013

Disclosure: I got an invite to the Celebrity Chef Cook-off at the Manila Food and Wine Festival 2013. The invite entitled me to meals from 2 food trucks of my choice (I chose red and blue). Still, this review is going to be unsugarcoated: praise what needs to be praised, criticize what needs to be criticized.
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When the Center for Culinary Arts invited me to the Celebrity Chef Cook-off and asked me to choose two food trucks, it took me a long time to decide since everything sounded yummy. To summarize, here were the different food trucks:

food trucks at the Celebrity Chef Cook-off (Manila Food and Wine Festival 2013)
celebrity chefs Robby Goco, Marvin Agustin, Sau del Rosario, Bruce Lim, Florabel Co, Tristan Encarnacion
celebrity chefs Robby Goco, Marvin Agustin, Sau del Rosario, Bruce Lim,
Florabel Co, and Tristan Encarnacion

Impressive line of celebrity chefs: Chef Robby Goco of Cyma, Chef Marvin Agustin of the Sumo Sam chain, Chef Sau Del Rosario of Food Garage and Villa Cafe, Chef Bruce Lim of the Asian Food Channel, Chef Florabel Co-Yatco of the Florabel chain of restaurants, and culinary endorser, Chef Tristan Encarnacion.

One thing that I found confusing at first was the color of the trucks. Both Chef Tristan and Chef Florabel had trucks that matched their assigned colors: black for the former, red for the latter. Chef Sau (Purple Truck) had a truck that was deep red in color, Chef Bruce (Green Truck) worked at a truck that was colored yellow and orange, Chef Marvin (Blue Truck) had a truck that was actually brown, and Chef Robby (Orange Truck) was inside a blue truck.

Anyway, that was just confusing at the beginning. Some of those who bought orange tickets might have headed for Chef Bruce's truck by mistake and some of those with blue tickets might have approached Chef Robby's truck instead of Chef Marvin's. After a few minutes though, it was not a problem anymore since you would have already memorized where each truck was located. The trucks were not far from one another so going from one bus to another was not hard.

The event was well-attended and everyone seemed to be in a good mood. The area was crowded, lines to some food trucks were long, there was light rain at one point, and most of the people had to eat standing up, but there was a positive vibe in the air and no one seemed to mind the lines or the lack of chairs. I usually dislike crowds but not this time; I found the whole event enjoyable.

crowd at the Manila Food and Wine Festival 2013
dining area for sponsors


The cook-off was hosted by Tuesday Vargas and Ramon Bautista. They were both witty and hilarious, which definitely added to the fun atmosphere of the event and kept people relaxed while waiting for their food.

Tuesday Vargas and Ramon Bautista hosting the Celebrity Chef Cook-off (Manila Food and Wine Festival 2013)
hosts Ms. Tuesday Vargas and Mr. Ramon Bautista

Their two other co-hosts were less familiar faces (to us, at least) but they were also funny. The four of them jived well and jokes flowed smoothly.

Tuesday Vargas, Ramon Bautista, and co-hosts at the Celebrity Chef Cook-off (Manila Food and Wine Festival 2013)

They were also able to give adequate face time to the six chefs -- both as individual chefs (by going to each truck) and as a group (with all the chefs on stage).

the Celebrity Chef Cook-off (Manila Food and Wine Festival 2013)
left to right: Tuesday Vargas, Chef Robby Goco, Chef Sau del Rosario, Chef Marvin Agustin,
Chef Florabel Co, Chef Tristan Encarnacion, Ramon Bautista, and Chef Bruce Lim

celebrity chefs at the Celebrity Chef Cook-off (Manila Food and Wine Festival 2013)
celebrity chefs at the Celebrity Chef Cook-off (Manila Food and Wine Festival 2013)


Before sunset, the trucks were not very busy yet, with most of the attendees still going around checking out the different food trucks or watching the show. When the sun set and dinner time rolled by, people flocked to the trucks and our chefs got busy busy busy.


The different food trucks:

Black Truck by Chef Tristan Encarnacion (Pinoy Faves with a Twist)

Chef Tristan's team served different kinds of bagnet.

Black Truck, Chef Tristan Encarnacion at the Celebrity Chef Cook-off (Manila Food and Wine Festival 2013)
Black Truck, Chef Tristan Encarnacion at the Celebrity Chef Cook-off (Manila Food and Wine Festival 2013)
Black Truck, Chef Tristan Encarnacion at the Celebrity Chef Cook-off (Manila Food and Wine Festival 2013)

 

Green Truck by Chef Bruce Lim (Chicken Wings Combo)

Chef Bruce's truck offered Coke-glazed soy chicken wings, Singaporean-style chili wings, and candied chili wings.

Green Truck, Chef Bruce Lim at the Celebrity Chef Cook-off (Manila Food and Wine Festival 2013)
Green Truck, Chef Bruce Lim at the Celebrity Chef Cook-off (Manila Food and Wine Festival 2013)
Green Truck, Chef Bruce Lim at the Celebrity Chef Cook-off (Manila Food and Wine Festival 2013)

 

Purple Truck by Chef Sau del Rosario (Jumbo Dumplings with Fried Rice)

The Purple Truck had siomai dumplings with truffled Yang Chow, shark's fin dumplings with roasted duck fried rice, and hakaw dumplings with smoked fish fried rice.

Purple Truck, Chef Sau del Rosario at the Celebrity Chef Cook-off (Manila Food and Wine Festival 2013)
a dragon dance at the start of the event
Purple Truck, Chef Sau del Rosario at the Celebrity Chef Cook-off (Manila Food and Wine Festival 2013)
Purple Truck, Chef Sau del Rosario at the Celebrity Chef Cook-off (Manila Food and Wine Festival 2013)
Purple Truck, Chef Sau del Rosario at the Celebrity Chef Cook-off (Manila Food and Wine Festival 2013)
the pretty ladies of the Purple Truck (much to the delight of Ramon Bautista)

 

Blue Truck by Chef Marvin Agustin (Japanese-American Art of Sushi)

Chef Marvin's truck offered two kinds of sushi: Spicy Caravan (with salmon) and Black Dragon (with unagi).

Black Truck, Chef Marvin Agustin at the Celebrity Chef Cook-off (Manila Food and Wine Festival 2013)
Black Truck, Chef Marvin Agustin at the Celebrity Chef Cook-off (Manila Food and Wine Festival 2013)
Black Truck, Chef Marvin Agustin at the Celebrity Chef Cook-off (Manila Food and Wine Festival 2013)
Black Truck, Chef Marvin Agustin at the Celebrity Chef Cook-off (Manila Food and Wine Festival 2013)
Black Truck, Chef Marvin Agustin at the Celebrity Chef Cook-off (Manila Food and Wine Festival 2013)
Black Truck, Chef Marvin Agustin at the Celebrity Chef Cook-off (Manila Food and Wine Festival 2013)

 

 

Orange Truck by Chef Robby Goco (Porchetta: Italian Lechon)

In case you're not familiar with porchetta, it is a pork roast cooked the Italian way. It is Italy's version of our beloved lechon. Chef Robby's porchetta sandwich was complete with fresh arugula and onion marmalade. There were also several  sauces available: aioli (garlic mayonnaise), salsa verde (herb sauce), and ajvar (eggplant and peppers).

Orange Truck, Chef Robby Goco at the Celebrity Chef Cook-off (Manila Food and Wine Festival 2013)
Orange Truck, Chef Robby Goco at the Celebrity Chef Cook-off (Manila Food and Wine Festival 2013)
Orange Truck, Chef Robby Goco at the Celebrity Chef Cook-off (Manila Food and Wine Festival 2013)

 

Red Truck by Chef Florabel Co (Sausages of the World)

There were four kinds of hotdog sandwiches available: Pinoy Dog, All-Meat Dog, Bacon and Coleslaw Dog, and Chicken Teriyaki Dog. 

Red Truck, Chef Florabel Co at the Celebrity Chef Cook-off (Manila Food and Wine Festival 2013)
Red Truck, Chef Florabel Co at the Celebrity Chef Cook-off (Manila Food and Wine Festival 2013)
Red Truck, Chef Florabel Co at the Celebrity Chef Cook-off (Manila Food and Wine Festival 2013)
Red Truck, Chef Florabel Co at the Celebrity Chef Cook-off (Manila Food and Wine Festival 2013)
Red Truck, Chef Florabel Co at the Celebrity Chef Cook-off (Manila Food and Wine Festival 2013)


Aside from the food trucks, there were also sponsor booths around the venue: Metrobank, Center for Culinary Arts, McCormick, Sbarro, Tabasco, and Masflex. The Culinary Education Foundation had their own truck.
Culinary Education Foundation truck
booths of sponsors
Masflex cookware
booths of sponsors
Center for Culinary Arts at the Manila Food and Wine Festival 2013
booths of sponsors


My review of the food


We got to try three food trucks: the red, blue, and orange trucks (the red and blue tickets were part of my invite and the orange one was bought online at ticketsource). Since I was not able to try the other three, I cannot comment about their food and service.

Please excuse the slightly messy appearance of the food. Aside from the very limited time the chefs had to fulfill the orders, we also bumped into other people on the way back to our table.

The first truck I approached was Chef Florabel's Red Truck. To be honest, I was a little surprised with the hotdog sandwiches. When I read that the Red Truck would be serving 'Sausages of the World', I was expecting more exotic kinds of sausages, sliced into disks -- sausages that were closer to bologna, salami or blood sausage than to weiners.

Sausage Sandwich Set from the Red Truck, Chef Florabel Co at the Celebrity Chef Cook-off (Manila Food and Wine Festival 2013)
Bacon and Coleslaw Dog

Nevertheless, the sandwich tasted good and the sausage was much longer than the bun. I also saw several people hauling off at least four Red Truck meals each person for takehome. Wow! No wonder Chef Florabel's team sold out early.

Another notable thing about the Red Truck was the speed. While people in line at the blue and orange trucks had to wait for their food, several meals were already lined up ready to be served at the Red Truck. Quite a relief, since I was already hungry.

Next, I lined up to get my sushi. I chose Spicy Caravan.

Spicy Caravan from the Black Truck, Chef Marvin Agustin at the Celebrity Chef Cook-off (Manila Food and Wine Festival 2013)
Spicy Caravan

Now, this one I really loved. Soft and fresh, with the different ingredients complementing each other's taste and texture. This was supposed to be good for 2-3 people but I could have finished it off all by myself. Two thumbs up!

Service, though, could have been better. There were several team members standing on the ground, aside from the girl handing out the food from the truck, yet some customers had to explicitly ask for dips (and sometimes, chopsticks) because they were not given any.

Porchetta from the Orange Truck, Chef Robby Goco at the Celebrity Chef Cook-off (Manila Food and Wine Festival 2013)
Porchetta sandwich

Before we got to try the porchetta, a lady sharing the table with us suddenly chatted me up, asking if I had tried all the trucks (maybe she saw my belly fat and mistook me for someone full). She said that she had tried all the trucks and her top 3 were red, blue, and orange -- with orange being #1. She vehemently said that we should try the Orange Truck. If a complete stranger suddenly talks to you just to rave about the food she had, that really says something about the food.

Bf fell in line to get the porchetta sandwich and it took a long time for him to come back. Couldn't blame him; I couldn't even get close to the truck to get a closeup shot of Chef Robby at work -- there were always a lot of people around the truck!

I'm not into roast pork sandwiches so the porchetta did not really tickle my taste buds. but it was a big hit that night. The good feedback from the crowd and the allure of tasting "Italian lechon" kept people trooping towards the Orange Truck the whole time. Aside from being a big hit, the porchetta sandwich was also big, literally. Of the three meals I tried, this one was the most filling.


The cook-off challenge ended with fun awards for the six chefs:

  • Brgy. Fiesta Award (the chef who brought the most number of people) - Chef Robby Goco (Orange Truck)
  • Nakakahon Award (most OC in the kitchen) - Chef Bruce Lim (Green Truck)
  • Palabok Award (with the most entertaining gimmicks) - Chef Sau del Rosario (Purple Truck); he had a lion dance, a wushu exhibition, and sexy ladies helping out in the truck
  • Nakakape Award (most energetic) - Chef Marvin Agustin (Blue Truck)
  • Malakas ang Dating Award - Chef Tristan Encarnacion (Black Truck)
  • Fastest Finger Award - Chef Florabel Co (Red Truck)


More about the Manila Food and Wine Festival (MFWF) 2013


The first Manila Food and Wine Festival (MFWF) is organized by the Culinary Education Foundation in partnership with the Department of Tourism. It runs from Feb. 22-25, with the theme, 'Cooking Revolution 2013'. The three major activities of the festival are: The Food Truck Cook-off Challenge, the Restaurant Wars, and the elegant gala dinner presented by the Asian Food Channel. Proceeds of the festival and the AFC Gala Dinner will be used to support 500 deserving Filipino scholars under the Culinary Education Foundation.

The MFWF is going to be a yearly event. Definitely something to look forward to!



Celebrity Chef Cook-off Challenge

Manila Food and Wine Festival 2013

SM Mall of Asia Grounds, Block 12
February 22, 2013
5pm-11pm
Web site

1 comment:

  1. Mukhang masaya! You're right about the porchetta being a glorified lechon or bagnet. =)

    ReplyDelete

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