Negrense chef Don Angelo Emil F. Colmenares represented the Philippines in the Tuna Route Festival held early this month at Porto Santo, Madeira.
The Bacolod City native joined other international chefs from Australia, France, Italy, Japan, Spain and Portugal who showcased their respective tuna gastronomic dishes during the event.
Colmenaras presented colorful, well balanced and unique dishes including Seared Tuna “Paksiw” with White Adlai and Toasted Coconut Tuna Kinilaw.
In addition to a Philippine-themed dinner for the festival participants, Colmenares also participated in a cooking workshop dedicated to Filipino cuisine.
“The biggest challenge is how we can adapt to our surroundings wherever we may be and then try and present in a way that shows it off. A lot of people nowadays are against the whole molecular gastronomy and new age style of presenting our food. But for me, it’s a way for us to penetrate the international market. You cannot just have a one-track mindset when it comes to our food. We can still make it original or historically correct when it comes to flavor or ingredients, but we can always present it in a more modern way,” Colmenares said.
According to Colmenares, Filipino cuisine hasn’t really made an impact on the Portuguese community as much as the rest of the world.
“A lot of the chefs there did not even have any experience trying Filipino food in general. But they are very open-minded to try and see how Filipino food is very diverse, colorful and full of flavor. Seeing the Portuguese chefs and diners enjoy the food that I was presenting actually reassured me that with a little more hard work, Filipino food can actually conquer the world,” he said.
Through Colmenares, the Philippines was able to promote and raise awareness for the tastes and flavors of Philippine cuisine in the global cuisine scene.
“We finally have our own identity in the culinary world and right now, the momentum is with us to show the world that Pinoy food can be done and enjoyed anywhere in the world,” he shared.
Philippine Ambassador to Portugal, Celia Anna M. Feria, was also present at the tuna festival promoting not only Philippine culinary diplomacy, but also encouraging the Portuguese to consider the Philippines as a tourist destination.
Admittedly new in promoting Filipino food to the international market, Colmenares believes a lot of Filipino chefs around the world are making Filipino food more accessible.
“Think out of the box, be playful with your presentation and flavors, but most importantly. Never lose the essence of the culture and history behind it,” Colmenares said.
The event showcased how important tuna is to the Portuguese as a source of income through export and byproducts. But it was also a way for chefs, food processing companies, fishermen, environmentalists, and the local government to educate each other about the importance of sustainability and responsible consumerism.
The Tuna Route Festival in the island of Porto Santo is in its second year.
The island of Porto Santo is responsible for more than 60% of the total tuna fishery quota in Portugal. The festival is a gastronomic and tourism event that also promotes the sustainability of the Portuguese fishery industry.