Wednesday, December 1, 2021

And Your 2021 Bord Bia Irish Food Board East Meets West Culinary Competition Winner Is...

Five dishes prepared by five young and talented chefs showcasing premium Irish pork and beef takes centerstage once more at the second edition of the East Meets West Culinary Competition by the Bord Bia Irish Food Board...

Now on its second year, five winners were officially announced for the 2021 Bord Bia Irish Food Board East Meets West Culinary Competition last November 30 at The Grand Kitchen of Grand Hyatt Manila. With almost two hundred entries from around the country, the annual competition attracted the country's best and brightest culminating in another memorable event highlighted by world class Irish pork and beef. Read on for a peek at this year's edition of the East Meets West Culinary Competition by Bord Bia...  

And just like last year's competition, the level of creativity and masterful execution of the dishes were impressive. Presided by a prestigious panel of judges led by Founding Chairman of Escoffier Philippines Chef Philip John GoldingExecutive Chef Mark Hagan of Grand Hyatt Manila and last year's winner, Chef Donie Bigcas, this year's competition culminated in a epic finale featuring promising young culinary talents while demonstrating the versatility and world class quality of Irish pork and beef (for more on Bord Bia Irish Food Board and Irish beef and pork, see my posts, Let's Talk Irish the Bord Bia Dinner in Discovery Primea's Flame on premium Irish beef and The Chef's Choice: Bord Bia Brings World Class Quality Irish Pork and Beef to the Philippines and to Your Plate featuring Irish pork). 

Held at The Grand Kitchen of Grand Hyatt Manila, this year's edition of the East Meets West Culinary Competition by Bord Bia Irish Food Board presented uniquely inventive Asian and local inspired dishes with world class Irish pork and beef as the flavorful base continuing an annual tradition of culinary creativity and excellence (for more on last year's Bord Bia Irish Food Board East Meets West Culinary Competition, see my post, Five Dishes. Five Winners. Bord Bia Announces Winners of the East Meets West Culinary Competition).

The elegant and spacious interiors of The Grand Kitchen with multiple stations in its open kitchen layout at Grand Hyatt Manila was the perfect stage for this year's competition, streamed live on the net directed by Donatella Chua. There's a much grander vibe to this year's Bord Bia Irish Food Board East Meets West Culinary Competition, making next year's edition something to look forward to.

Earlier that day, Chef Philip John Golding prepared a few dishes using Irish beef and pork like the Irish Pork Curry... 

...and Irish Beef Brisket Curry with Coconut Milk, local basil, Lemongrass and Ginger Brown Rice Pilaf and Zambales Mango Red Onion Chutney. The transfer of knowledge is a critical component of the annual competition as the panel of judges mentored this year's top five panelists.

Escoffier Philippines Founding Chairman Philip John Golding preps this year's batch of finalists with a short talk before the competition. Representing some of the best young culinary talents in the country, this year's Bord Bia Irish Food Board East Meets West Culinary Competition promised some interesting interpretations of familiar local flavors using Irish beef and pork. 

This year's top five finalists for the 2021 Bord Bia Irish Food Board East Meets West Culinary Competition included Joaquin Carsi Cruz from CCA, Miguel Antonio S. Lorino also from CCA, Bianca Abola from De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde, Mae Romelin Almirante from La Flamme Bleu Center for Culinary Arts Iloilo and Marc Espinosa from University of Santo Tomas. All winners, and definitely names to watch out for in the future.

Grand Hyatt Manila Executive Chef Mark Hagan hosted a lavish and hearty Irish lunch at The Grand Kitchen featuring Irish beef and pork drawing inspiration from traditional classics... the Triple Hog with Irish Pork Belly, Smoked Bacon Rub, Corn and Cheese Bake served with Homemade Irish Soda Bread and Kerry Gold Salted Butter for starters. The combination of Irish pork belly and bacon with corn and cheese brings bold yet smooth flavors warming the palate like a comforting hug. The Irish pork and bacon is already a winning duo but add lavish layers of cheese and corn and it just gets better.  

For the main course, Executive Chef Mark Hagan presented his Slow Braised Beef and Guinness Pie with mushrooms, bacon, roasted root vegetables and prunes topped with creamed potatoes. Slow cooked, the savory notes of fork-tender beef and Guinness, bacon, mushrooms, vegetables and prunes come together in a rich and seamless blend with a mildly sweet and bold savory finish.  

Topped with a layer of creamed potatoes, Executive Chef Mark Hagan recreates the flavors he grew up with in this comforting dish. The savory richness of the fork-tender and melt-in-your-mouth braised beef and bacon are tempered by the malty notes of Guinness and lingering sweetness of prunes for complex yet balanced flavors for a hearty taste of the Emerald Isle.

For dessert, Executive Chef Mark Hagan served his Bread and Butter Pudding with Jameson Irish Whisky, Chocolate and Butterscotch Sauce to cap a satisfying and filling Irish lunch at The Grand Kitchen. Butter, Jameson Irish Whisky, chocolate and butterscotch, now that's dessert.   

After a filling lunch, host Issa Litton officially announced the start of the final round for the 2021 Bord Bia Irish Food Board East Meets West Culinary Competition... the stations fired up at The Grand Kitchen of Grand Hyatt Manila. Simultaneously streamed online, viewers get an up close glimpse of the action as the five finalists prepared their dishes. 

Host Issa Litton takes us closer to the action as the finalists described their dishes in detail. The sounds and movements in the kitchen become a blur gaining in intensity with each passing minute.

And soon, the finalists find their rhythm as the competition takes on a steadier pace. The intricate process behind each dish is slowly unveiled revealing a personal and intimate creative chain from concept to the actual dish. 

A million things can run through your head in pressure-packed situations like this, but these talented young chefs take on the task with ice-cold nerves and casual precision.

The complex dishes include multiple components, and each finalist prepares each individual element down to the minutest detail.

The clock in any time-bound activity always seems to run at a much faster pace, and the finalists adapt to the situation by double-timing it. This is where the long hours in both the class and kitchen pays off.

Grand Hyatt Manila Executive Chef Mark Hagan walked through the different stations...

...and shared key observations with Chef Philip John Golding. As the judges compiled their notes, the finalists picked up the pace midway through the competition.

Getting it down right to the last detail can make or break any dish...

...while made from scratch pita bread gets the pounding. It's interesting to see the different components of the dishes taking shape from the different stations reflecting creative approaches to beef and pork dishes.

Chef Philip John Golding and Donie Bigcas point out some techniques observed at the open kitchen... host Issa Litton checks on the progress of the finalists.

Meanwhile, scenes from the open kitchen are streamed live over the net. With health and safety protocols still in place, live streaming becomes the safest option to view and experience the competition.

Host Issa Litton gets a few insights from Chef Donie Bigcas...

...and Executive Chef Mark Hagan as the clock winds down to the last few minutes. And the dishes were served...

Mark Espinosa from UST shares his creative and modern take on Pork Binagoongan topped with crisp pork crackling. Elegantly plated, the different components add splashes of flavorful colors offering nuanced notes for a popular local staple in a refreshing new way.

The Preserved Lemon and Capers Pork Adobo Tagine served with Pita Bread and Harissa by Mae Romelyn Almirante of La Flamme Bleu Center for Culinary Arts Iloilo is another novel spin on the classic national dish. Using premium Irish pork, the dish is transformed and elevated infused with rich Moroccan notes. Taken together with the Pita Bread and sharpness of the Harissa, comfortingly familiar flavors suddenly become new and different. And it works.

Each finalist described the dish to the panel of judges as the other finalists prepared to serve their dishes. 

The Bulcachong Smoked Curry by Bianca Abola of De La Salle College of Saint Benilde brings the flavors of Davao in a rich curry-based stew using slabs of Irish pork jowl revealing the wide diversity of local cuisine. The savory richness of the pork are perfectly tempered by the curry sauce draping the palate with a comforting finish.

Drawing inspiration from fond memories, the Kabisera: European Beef Braised in Pahimis Coffee by Miguel Antonio S. Lorino from CCA recreates the long talks over coffee with his elder sister in a lavish and savory dish. The deep nutty and mildly sweet notes of coffee adds a flavorful layer to the fork-tender beef for another creative dish. 

The wittingly named "Pares sa Gubat" with tender Short Ribs and Mushroom Pares Sauce on sweet garlic Adlai with edible flowers and mango chili fluid gel is an inspired take on the local pares by Joaquin Carsi Cruz of CCA, recalling late nights out with friends. Joaquin brings all the traditional components together in one sumptuous dish. It's one dish I wouldn't mind having any night.

Host Issa Litton and the judges discuss the dishes presented by the finalists...

...and after a quick tabulation, the results are in. The creative play on flavors along with the mastery of technique made judging more difficult, separating the entries by just a few points. And the winners for the 2021 Bord Bia Irish Food Board East Meets West Culinary Competition are...

Marc Espinosa of UST bags the Fourth Runner-Up prize...

...while Mae Romelyn Almirante of La Flamme Bleu Center of Culinary Arts Iloilo earns the Third Runner-Up prize for her inventive adobo tagine dish.

Bianca Abola of De La Salle College of Saint Benilde earns the Second Runner-Up prize for her inventive take on a local DavaoeƱo dish...

...and Miguel Antonio S. Lorino of CCA is awarded First Runner-Up for his savory dish infused with coffee inspired by memories of long conversations over coffee with his sister.

The top plum goes to Joaquin Carsi Cruz of CCA with his hearty spin on the local pares with fork-tender beef and mushrooms on adlai rice. Great ideas do come from late nights out with friends.

This year's batch of winners for the 2021 Bord Bia Irish Food Board East Meets West Culinary Competition reflected a wide variety of creative interpretations of both local and global flavors using Irish pork and beef. And the future looks bright for the country's culinary scene.

Chef Philip John Golding gathers this year's five winners for one last advise, to stay creative and constantly push the envelope while mastering the skills and key learnings from the competition experience. The use of premium ingredients, like Irish pork and beef, can make a difference to any dish prepared at home and the five winners clearly have shown five unique ways.

Five winners. Five dishes. Each one unique from the other, reflecting the amazing talents of the young chefs. Bord Bia Irish Food Board is now part of the culinary journey of these young chefs and you can expect to hear more from them soon. And yes, I can't wait for the third edition of the Bord Bia Irish Food Board East Meets West Culinary Competition...

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