After taking on the stage of Madrid Fusion Manila in 2016 as a speaker at the International Congress, Chef Myke “Tatung” Sarthou also presented on the stage of Asisa Madrid Fusion last January—shining light on Mindanao cuisine and issues on Philippine salt before an international audience.
“I was doing a lot of research in Philippine salts. It’s very sad to note that a country like Philippines, which has one of the longet shorelines, imports up to 80% of salt,” Chef said in a press conference held February 27 at his new restaurant, Agos, in Mall of Asia, Pasay City, where he shared his Madrid Fusion experience in Spain.
According to Chef Sarthou’s findings, the salt commonly bought and used from local markets are non-food grade, and usually comes from China or Australia. Rather, these salts are industrial-grade salts that are meant for the production of industrial products such as soap or cosmetics.
“It’s not really intended to be used for seasoning food or for cooking. It’s not really healthy,” Chef Sarthou said, and further revealed that that these salts have up to 98% sodium chloride content.
The chef lamented that salt, as a basic ingredient, lacks in bringing out the flavor of food because “because it has lost it’s own flavor.”
“Kapag tinikman mo yung natural na asin saka yung asin na nabebenta ngayon (When you taste natural salt and the salt being sold at markets now), which already has high acidity level, kapag titikman mo, yung alat lang (when you taste it, it only tastes salty). When you harvest natural sea salt, it doesn’t only have sodium chloride but it has minerals and other elements so it has a well-rounded flavor,” Chef Sarthou said.
Chef Sarthou also shared his experience in making the two dinners they were assigned to prepare at the famed gastronomy event. His first dinner presentation was at El Club Allard and the second one was a four-hands dinner with Mario Sandoval at the Hotel Orfila. It will be recalled that Chef Sandoval was one of the featured Spanish chefs during the first Madrid Fusion Manila in 2015.
Recalling his team’s creations, the chef shared, “We did sisig. We did lumpiang ubod (palm heart spring roll) but it had lobster and salmon roe on top. We did binagoongang pulled pork (pulled pork with shrimp paste) with roasted leeks and eggplant. We used this interesting dish using burnt coconut husk that we called ‘Moros y Kristiyanos’; it’s like black adobo with burnt coconut ,and a white sauce using gata (coconut milk). We also made a halo-halo shooter.”
These dishes received good reviews from critics and participants. Chef Tatung cited one of the best reactions the Filipino team got from the other participating chefs was that it was one of the best dinners they had.
“It’s very interesting that all the chefs were really interested in the recipes we were doing. They were taking notes. Behind our backs, they’ve been tasting, they’ve been talking about the food, and they’ve been giving it to other kusineros (cooks) at the back. They were really intrigued by what we’re doing. Until now, they are still asking for the recipe,” he added.
As Filipino cuisine continues to gain recognition around the globe, Chef Sarthou hopes commerce can be further generated and that it will eventually provide more work and business opportunities for Filipinos.
“There is really a lot of potential in our cuisine. We really need to be able to present it and to communicate it in a way that it will create commerce for us,” Chef Sarthou said.
“It is very nice that we are showcasing (our cuisine), and I think that is one thing that is needed to be looked into by the Philippine government. We have to begin to think like entrepreneurs.
“Currently,our presentation is a bit on the socio-cultural side wherein we (aim) to be recognized with our cuisine; that I hope the Spaniards (or other cultures) will like what I’m cooking, and all that. Although it feels good, but the way I feel about it is that we should be able to transcend that level of thinking to be able to create business because what is the point of promoting Filipino food if we are not able to help the people in the Philippines? We have to position ourselves right now to be able to offer something unique to the world.”
Madrid Fusion Manila 2017
After the recently concluded Asisa Madrid Fusion in Spain last January, where Chef Sarthou’s talk got the attention of international media, all eyes will be on Manila for the Madrid Fusion Manila (MFM) 2017 happening on April 6 to 8 at SMX Convention Center in Pasay City.
Now on its third year, MFM’s theme for 2017 is “Towards a Sustainable Gastronomic Planet.” It aims to showcase culinary innovations and introduce sustainability in the culinary industry.
Speakers for the International Gastronomy Congress includes Ray Adriansyah from Indonesia; Josean Alija from Spain; Rodrigo De La Calle from Spain; Gert De Mangeleer from Belgium; Magnus Ek from Sweden; Vicky Lau from Hongkong; Tatiana and Katia Levha from France; Régis Marcon from France; Sally Camacho Mueller from USA; Paco Pérez from Spain; Jordi Roca and Alejandra Rivas from Spain; Simon Rogan from England; Julien Royer from Singapore; Pedro Subijana from Spain; Kamilla Seidler and Michelagelo Cestari from Bolivia; and Tony Yoo from Korea.
Among the Filipino chefs participating in the congress are Chefs Robby Goco, Gene Gonzalez, and Jordy Navarra.
Besides the International Gastronomy Congress, MFM will also feature an International Gastronomy Expo, and the Flavors of the Philippines event.
Madrid Fusion Manila will be held on April 6 to 8, 2017 at the SMX Convention Center at the Mall of Asia Complex in Pasay City. For more information, visit www.madridfusionmanila.com.