April 20, 2017
SLOW FOOD PHILIPPINES INTRODUCES INTERACTIVE EVENTS AT MFM 2017
Farmer-Chef Meet Up
“Where do I sell my cashew wine?” asked Thelma Murillo, a farmer and mother of a chef. “Let me use it in my restaurant,” says Chef Robby, who passed by the gathering of chefs and farmers at the recent Madrid Fusion Manila 2017. Slow Food Philippines convivia (chapters) like SF Manila, Negros, and Bukidnon scheduled a meet up where farmers can meet potential buyers, and chefs can meet potential suppliers. After Robby’s short talk, he and Thelma exchanged cards and hopefully they start a fruitful relationship soon.
Another chef passed by, this time a rockstar, named Chef Kamilla Seidler. She was brought to the Slow Food corner by SF Negros’ Chef Margarita Fores. Chef Seidler is the 2016 Latin American Best Female Chef who owns Gustu Restaurant in La Paz, Bolivia and was one of the featured speakers at the exclusive Madrid Fusion congress. We were lucky to meet her and hear some words of encouragement for farmers and chefs to keep talking to each other. Chef Margarita, Asia’s Best female Chef 2016 also spoke, much to the crowd’s delight.
Farmers brought to light their woes about not having a steady market as mentioned by a long-time farmer who uses hydroponics, Old Kano’s Andre Kahn. Meanwhile, new and young farmers like Enzo Pinga and Raffy Dakones told the crowd about their entrepreneurial challenges not only as young start-ups, but as farmers who grow food organically using soil. Biodynamic expert Nicolo Aberasturi, wild farming practitioner Gejo Jimenez, and Negros’ Fresh Start Farm owner Chin Chin Uy also took turns in sharing their stories about seasonality and the principles of Slow Food.
Slow Food members are advocates who cannot pay for regular advertising or promotions and thus depend on alternative advertising. These are spread through “word of mouth”, social media endorsements, trade fairs held by Department of Agriculture, food shows like Madrid Fusion Manila, World Food Expo, and buyers’ testimonials. Thus, the farmer-chef meet up was an excellent way to educate consumers about how chefs and farmers collaborate to come up with seasonal menus.
The afternoon ended on a high note as farmers met the chefs who also shared what they expect in terms of quality and diversity. Someone even got a piece of an “ugly carrot” and showed the crowd why perfect is not good for sustainability. Ugly vegetables make pretty salads, anyway. It is just the start of what we know will be a regular meet up between chefs and farmers.
The Ark Of Taste Session
A social media post by an attendee explained the learnings from our Slow Food events held during the three days of Madrid Fusion Manila. Though we were on the sidelines, the interesting topics attracted the crowds to stay and listen and even ask questions directed to the chefs and farmers. “I was glad to learn about Slow Food,” says the post from @msjmdelarama, who quoted one of the speakers: “To save the plant, you have to eat it.” This was at the Ark Of Taste session on Saturday, where Slow Food member-volunteers whipped up dishes like Kadyos with Free Range chicken and Langka, Smoked Malasugi with Kamias and Adlai Salad using Ark of Taste ingredients which are endangered: Kadyos, Kamias and Adlai among others like Black heritage pork, Kini-ing (smoked pork from Benguet) and Hunggo (a fruit like Duhat) from Malipayon Farms.
Both were good events—the Farmer-Chef meet up and the Ark Of Taste Tasting Session—at the Food Tunnel. I stood watch at the entrance and everyone would ask “Ark Of Taste? What’s that?”
I explained, even to the men guarding the entrance what we can do to preserve all these ingredients that we may lose if we stop knowing how to eat them, like Kadyos and Kamias, which are more familiar to cityfolk. But for Adlai, we needed to introduce it as a rice substitute, and perfect for risotto, cereals or a rice salad.
I went on to explain about Slow Food principles to my audience of three men so they could understand why we had a special Tasting session. After a few questions and answers, they began to understand. That is how we explain Slow Food principles to those who are ready to listen. To some, it is about seasonality and why we must use fruits only when they are in season. To some, it’s about biodiversity and why we need to plant a mixed bag in our farms. To many, it’s about slow food versus fast food. It is NOT slow cooking. Explaining it is a slow process that slowly we are able to communicate to more chefs and more consumers.
We had a varied mix of guests, from hotel and resort managers to regular consumers who gamely tried the dishes, albeit unfamiliar to some. Everyone ate while each cook annotated her/his dish and as we explained why Ark of Taste is open for all to nominate fruits, flora and fauna too. This ensures Biodiversity which we need for sustainable farming. We even served Liberica or Barako coffee and Benguet Typica Arabica, two varieties now listed in the Ark Of Taste.
At the end of the Tasting Session, part of my audience of three gatekeepers nodded and understood and even had some Adlai salad and Kadyos to taste. I think I have converted the three men to at least think about Slow Food.
Photos by Liz Rañola and Chit Juan
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