“If I may play the devil’s advocate . . . why do we need their approval?” says chef Claude Tayag. Over recent years, Filipino cuisine has garnered much more recognition around the world. Just a few months ago, sinigang was voted the number one international vegetable soup by Taste Atlas. Filipino talents have received accolades for proudly showcasing our cuisine in their international communities through pop-ups, tasting menus, and restaurants. Our food has also been commemorated on the global stage through shows like Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations and Parts Unknown, and Netflix’ Street Food: Asia. But how important is recognition, really?
At this year’s Asian Culinary Exchange (ACE), pivotal Filipino culinarians like chefs Tayag and Margarita Forés participated in a series of deep-dive panel discussions about Filipino cuisine. “Instead of learning about the cuisine of our neighbouring countries,” ACE founder Angelo Comsti explains, “we take a deeper look at our own from the lens of the past, the present, and the future”. The event also featured chefs championing Filipino food abroad and the local chefs who are modernising our cuisine, engaging them in thought-provoking debates.
Ultimately, three central themes emerged from the discussion: recognition, preservation, and (re-)discovery. Do you think our cuisine needs to be recognised internationally or is our own recognition enough? Would a Philippine version of the Italian D.O.P. help preserve our regional culinary heritage? What remains to be discovered about our cuisine, and what have we lost that we can discover once again?