Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Five Dishes. Five Winners. Bord Bia Announces Winners of the East Meets West Culinary Competition

Young upcoming chefs recreate their best dishes inspired by local flavors using world class Irish beef and pork and soon on their way to a memorable culinary tour of the Emerald Isle...

From hundreds of aspiring chefs and home cooks, the East Meets West Culinary Competition by The Irish Food Board or BordBia and the EU Pork and Beef PH culminated in the awarding of five talented young chefs last October 27, 2020 at the Grand Hyatt Manila and are now set for a memorable culinary tour of Ireland. The final five dished out their best with a creative and sumptuous array of dishes infused with local flavors and showcased how premium Irish beef and pork elevates any savory dish (for more on the competition, see my previous posts, Food News: East Meets West in a Culinary Competition by the Irish Food Board on the competition's launch back in August and Food News: Top Ten Semi-Finalists for Bord Bia's East Meets West Culinary Competition Revealed  on the semi-finalists leading to the final five). Read on for a tasty peek of the competitions...

Widely regarded as the food island of Europe, Ireland is known for its wide and abundant variety of fresh produce from seafood to dairy and their famous beef and pork (for more on BordBia and Irish beef and pork, see my earlier posts, Let's Talk Irish Beef...At the Bord Bia Dinner in Discovery Primea's Flame on the legendary Irish beef and The Chef's Choice: Bord Bia Brings World Class Quality Irish Pork and Beef to the Philippines and to Your Plate on their equally famous pork). European pork and beef farming follows the highest global standards in food safety, traceability, animal welfare and sustainability. With fresh, pure and clean flavors, you'll love the taste of Irish beef and pork. And more importantly, it's quality you can trust. 

In 2019, more than 300,000 tons of pork was exported from Ireland worth almost € 1 billion, while 560 tons of beef or almost 90% of Ireland's beef production was exported to over 40 countries making it the EU's largest beef exporter. The impressive numbers from the food island of Europe are quite staggering, but beyond the numbers lie the uncompromising commitment to quality that make its products stand out in the world stage. 

On the final day of the East Meets West culinary competition by BordBia and EU Pork and Beef PH, five talented chefs showcase the quality and versatility of Irish pork and beef. Each chef is already a winner with a ticket in the bag for an exclusive all-expense paid culinary tour of Ireland. But the pressure is on for earning bragging rights with the top dish. 

Judging the competition were noted chef and culinary personality Philip John Golding...

...and Grand Hyatt Manila Executive Chef Mark Hagan. Earlier in the morning, both judges demonstrated their personal culinary style using Irish pork and beef in a demo attended by the five finalists of the competition. 

Chef Philip John Golding prepared his elegant Pan-Fried Crispy Smoked Irish Pork Belly with Confit Garlic, Red Onion and Lemon Grass Jam plated with miso greens and vegetables. The slab of premium Irish pork is fork tender with a delicate smoky and natural sweetness that just melts in your mouth draping the palate with a savory richness.

The dish highlights the premium quality of Irish pork as well as its infinite possibilities. In the hands of a master chef, your pork dining experience is transformed with layers of complex notes complementing the savory pork. 

The dish is pared with Chef Philip Golding's rustic Kamote Pie for that local touch. 

Executive Chef Mark Hagan of Grand Hyatt Manila shared his mouthwatering Sous Vide Beef Medium Rare with chicken liver mousse, Calcannon potatoes, vegetables and calamansi jelly using world class Irish beef. The rich tapestry of fresh notes from the vegetables and the deep savory notes of Irish beef combine for yet another masterful execution of Ireland's finest.

A delicately seared layer reveals the juicy pink center of the premium slab of Irish beef delivering robust and intense beefy notes with each bite, The sweet hints from the vegetables and earthy, nutty notes of shitake mushrooms completes the dish. The five young finalists for the competition, all winners and destined for Ireland for a culinary tour, learned invaluable tips from the master chefs for their own savory creations later that day. But before the five winners show their chops and hit the kitchens, a hearty lunch at Grand Hyatt Manila's The Grand Kitchen was set right after the cooking demo.

The elegant interiors of The Grand Kitchen at Grand Hyatt Manila has been the stage for countless dining memories (for more on Grand Hyatt Manila, see my posts, #LivingGrand: A Christmas Cake Mixing Preview and a Sumptuous Buffet Lunch at The Grand Kitchen of Grand Hyatt Manila from two years back and A Light Yet Grand Mid-Week Lunch at Grand Hyatt Manila's The Grand Kitchen on their many specialty offerings from last year). But since the new normal continues to change and transform our daily routine, The Grand Kitchen has adapted with strict social distancing and health protocols in place. The buffet format has been replaced by a la carte servings from the different stations at The Grand Kitchen. The wide variety of offerings at The Grand Kitchen are still as impressive despite the change in format. That day, a sumptuous four course feast was prepared, including a hearty main dish with fork-tender Irish beef and pork on sausages, vegetables and potatoes. The quality of Irish pork and beef elevates any savory dish reflecting the high quality and versatility of world class Irish produce.

After lunch, Chefs Philip Golding and Mark Hagan immediately got to work as the five finalists prepared their culinary creations using Irish pork and beef. Each of the finalists were given two hours to prepare their signature dishes inside Grand Hyatt Manila's spacious kitchens. Following the east meets west theme of the competition, the five finalists were tasked to create Filipino-inspired dishes to showcase the versatility of premium Irish pork and beef.

Karl Kenneth Watson, a young financial adviser and home cook from Caloocan City, fired up his station for his dish using Irish beef...

...while Donnie Bigcas, a Center fo Culinary Arts (CCA) student from Roxas City prepped his Irish pork dish. Drawing inspiration from comforting local flavors, each student brings a creative and fresh perspective with their inventive main courses using Irish beef and pork.

In the other station, Marichu Jung of Apicius Culinary Arts in ParaƱaue City prepped her Filipino-inspired dish with Irish beef...

...while Francis Dave Lacson Selorio, an Executive Chef in Iloilo City, monitored the temperature of his slab of Irish Pork Belly for his dish... Nathaniel Deocaris, a chef  from Cainta, consults with the judges for his dish using Irish pork. With the East meets West theme of the competition, one can appreciate how quality meats can upgrade familiar dishes making it even more special. The diverse backgrounds and culinary styles of the finalists also open up so many possibilities for Irish pork and beef that you can do at home. 

Throughout the competition, the action inside the kitchen was documented...

...with a live stream via Zoom to the press. That's the template for events in the new normal. 

A good dish always starts with the best ingredients. The judges observe the prep work and execution of the dishes from the five finalists, often injecting some humor to lighten the vibe. There should be no pressure as the finalists are already winners with a guaranteed culinary tour of Ireland in their pocket care of BordBia, but bragging rights for the top dish prepared under the watchful eyes of the country's noted chefs is a serious matter.  

At the end of the allotted time, the judges are presented with the five dishes using Irish pork and beef. It's the moment everyone worked hard for in the culmination of BordBia and EU Pork and Beef PH's East Meets West culinary competition.  

The traditional bistek gets an elegant make-over with the Medium Rare Beef Striploin with Roasted Onions, Calamansi Gel and Bistek Sauce by Karl Kenneth Watson. The refreshing reinterpretation brings the richness of Irish beef to a popular local staple updated with modern touches like sweet roasted onions and calamansi-infused gel draped in a comfortingly familiar bistek sauce. Each component delivers all the flavors we know, with a different and inventive presentation. 

With its complex layers of contrasting flavors, the slab of juicy and tender Irish beef is clearly the star of the dish weaving its own indulgent notes and buttery richness to a well loved Filipino classic. 

Nostalgic savory notes are the inspiration for the aptly named Bisperas ng Pista (The Day Before the the Fiesta) by Donie Bigcas with his Braised Pork Jowl Hamonado, Sweet Potato Puree and Pineapple Atchara. The sweet hamonado glaze gives this tender slab of Irish pork jowl a distinctly Filipino finish, with the thick and mildly tart sweetness perfectly complementing the delicate notes of the butter-like texture and clean flavors of the pork jowl. 

The velvety smooth sweet potato puree and the subtle sharpness of the pineapple atchara completes the dish with that nostalgic vibe. It's a festive dish with vibrant notes capped by the richness of the premium pork. The fresh and clean flavors of Irish pork makes this dish a tasty upgrade with a lavish finish. Sweet and savory with a hint of tartness, it has that combination of sweetness rich pork that resonates with the local palate. The meticulously prepared sides of sweet potato pure and pineapple atchara add even more flavorful layers to the dish without overpowering the pork. 

Francis Dave Lacson Selorio gets creative with his wittingly named Pork in the Country combining local flavors in a colorful weave of familiar bright notes. The Baked Laing Stuffed Pork Belly with Rambutan Sauce and Adlai with Pancit-Pancitan brings the diverse elements of the local culinary heritage in one inventively executed pork dish. The components may be familiar but it's a refreshingly new take on local flavors.  

The creamy nutty notes of the taro leaves complement the tender and juicy pork belly while the unique fruity sweetness of the rambutan adds flavorful elements of distinct notes in a balanced and seamless blend. 

Nathaniel Deocaris takes kare-kare, the popular local stew with a thick peanut based sauce, to the next level with his Crispy Pork Belly Kare-Kare with Homemade Peanut Crackers and Tomato & Shrimp Fondue. The local kare-kare with its particular set of flavors is like a fresh canvas for new reinterpretations, and using premium Irish pork is like a splash of fresh paint that really does make a difference. 

The juicy and succulent meat capped by a lightly crisp layer of crackling clearly shows the quality of Irish pork as Nathaniel Deocaris shares his version of the kare-kare. The thick peanut-based sauce delivers all the flavors for that perfect finish with subtle salty hints from the tomatoes and shrimps and a delectable crunch from the peanut crackers. Swirl the crisp and juicy pork belly with the sauce and you'll probably want some rice on the side.

A hearty pot roast gets the local touch by Marichu Jung with her Classic Filipino Pot Roast Beef Ribs with Pureed Baby Carrots and Balsamic Caramel Glazed Shallots. The comforting one-pot dish becomes a hearty meal with tender Irish beef ribs and vegetables, followed by a touch of sweetness from the carrot puree. 

With its rich sauce infused with all the flavors of the beef and vegetables, it's a dish that's perfect for family dining at home in the new normal. Like all the dishes, the high quality Irish beef and pork makes a flavorful difference. And you can also do it at home. Is there a dish you liked so far?

The judges add up the numbers and the top dishes are announced...

The home cook, Karl Kenneth Watson, bags the Fourth Runner-Up spot with his inventive take on bistek with the Medium Rare Beef Striploin with Roasted Onions, Calamansi Gel and Bistek Sauce...

...followed by Third Runner-Up Marichu Jung and her Classic Filipino Pot Roast Beef Ribs with Pureed Baby Carrots and  Balsamic Caramelized Shallots... Nathaniel Deocaris earns the Second Runner-Up position with the inventive Crispy Pork Belly Kare-Kare with Homemade Peanut Crackers and Tomato & Shrimp Fondue

Francis Dave Lacson Selorio grabs the First Runner-Up spot with his creative Pork in the Country, a Baked Laing-Stuffed Pork Belly with Rambutan Sauce and Adlai with Pancit-pancitan

And the East Meets West culinary competition's top dish goes to CCA student Donie Bigcas with his Bisperas ng Pista, a Braised Pork Jowl Hamonado with Sweet Potato Puree and Pineapple Atchara.  

The competition highlighted what we all know, that the best ingredients make the best dish. Donnie Bigcas and the rest of the winning finalists in Bord Bia and EU Pork and Beef PH's East Meets West culinary competition showed us how to transform our beef and pork dishes using world-class quality meats and produce. And you too can prepare special dishes with Irish beef and pork at home. 

Now armed with more experience, you can expect to hear more from these talented young chefs soon...

...but for now, they are all looking forward to experience the luck of the Irish first-hand and up-close with a memorable culinary tour of Ireland, the food island of Europe. And the world. 

For more on Bord Bia, visit their FB Page at and their website at for more information. You can also check out for more local updates.

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