by RONALYN BANAKEN
The UB team
For four consecutive years now, the University of Baguio (UB) still secures a spot in the Philippine Culinary Cup (PCC) – the country’s biggest food competition endorsed by the World Association of Chefs Societies (WACS).
UB seized the bronze award – yet again – in this year’s Culinary Cup held at the SMX Convention Center on July 31 – Aug. 3.
The UB team – composed of Maricris Agas (head chef), Alexander Molintas (assistant chef), Raymart James Saro (student chef), Karlos Marion Chavez, Dolores Cruz, Joshua Boyne Gilles, Ma. Christina Pua, and Stephanie Mae Rodillas – prepared dishes which featured the Filipino festive taste. Highlighting the best of Northern Luzon – particularly Cordillera – they showcased the following recipes: kinilaw na bangus paired with ensaladang talong in bagoong vinaigrette topped with crispy fried oyster (appetizer), Pinoy-style braised pork ribs and roasted sidings served with caldereta sauce (main dish), highland organic rice (rice dish), and sautéed chayote and beans bedded on pureed pumpkin and moringa leaves served with shrimp and stuffed squash blossom with cottage cheese flavor and etag (vegetable dish).
“We were given an hour and a half to prepare two sets of each of the recipes, so that makes eight preparations in less than two hours. It was tough,” Agas said.
The group competed against an estimated 40 executive chefs from some of the nation’s well-known establishments such as Resorts World Manila, Marriott Hotel, Diamond Hotel Philippines, and Global Hotel. Big industry names in Malaysia, Korea, Singapore and Malaysia also battled it out for the coveted gold medal.
The gold medal, however, was not given out. “The level of competition is so high no one won as gold medalist. The highest award given was silver, and then bronze. But, still, under the bronze prize, there were rankings and UB remained in the top three – just like in the previous years. It is a consistent win,” Agas said.
“There were only a few schools – like 10 percent – that participated. And only UB made it from Northern Luzon, in terms of universities joining the Culinary Cup,” Agas added.
“What makes it more interesting is that the dishes prepared by the [UB] team were described by the judges as ‘perfectly done’ so it is a kind of an honor,” she said.
The panel included Master Chef Alessandro Haab from Switzerland, Executive Pastry Chef Kenny Kong from Singapore, and Executive Chef Yau Kok Kheong from Malaysia – all WACS-approved judges.
Organized by Les Toques Blanches Philippines, the Pastry Alliance of the Philippines, and Premiere Events Plus Group Inc., PCC is the only WACS-endorsed culinary competition in the country and is held in consonance with the standards of the International Exposition on Worldwide Food and Beverage, Technology and Machinery (commonly called as the World Food Expo).
The competition is a preparation for the Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Weekend in September, to which UB holds the record for being the champion for nine consecutive years.