Leyte Town Stages First Culinary Fest

The local government hosted a two-day culinary festival over the weekend dubbed the “Pangaon Kita (Let us eat), the first culinary festival”.

The event that concluded on Sunday aimed to showcase the local cuisine and create awareness among the youth on how the town’s dishes are cooked.

Joselito Costas, founder of Grassroots Travel and project team leader of the Burauen Eco-tourism and Sustainable Tourism project, described the town as a unique culinary destination.

“Burauen has many local ingredients, like rice, coconut, native chicken, and vegetables that grow freely. So we thought of how we can make awareness. This event is all about the youth, the new generation of Burauen, to know how their local foods are being prepared,” Costas told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) on Monday.

Most of those in the younger generation have no idea what these local dishes are and how they are prepared, he said.

“We want to bring back the traditional and ritual of preparing food,” Costas added.

Burauen takes pride in such dishes as the “lawot-lawot”, a vegetable soup comprising 21 different vegetables – among them the harum (red amaranth), sida-sida (Philippine spinach), kulitis (wild spinach), and agitway (sunset hibiscus) — simmered in coconut milk.

To ensure the success of the campaign, the local government must strengthen its partnership with the local communities, especially those involved in the tourism sector.

“We want to package Burauen as a sustainable tourism destination and you can only do that if you bring all sectors together,” Costas said. “And for culinary tourism, to make it more sustainable, you have to use the local ingredients so that you can also help the local farmers and even the small cafeteria owners.”

The two-day culinary festival in Burauen started with the Amazing Food Race. Eight groups with three members each raced to one station where they must complete a specific task before they can proceed to another station, and cover all 10 stations.

The winner was judged according to the speed and quality of the completed tasks.

The second day of the festival centered on a cook-off with five categories — the main dish, drink, dessert, rice, and heirloom. The dishes featured coconut milk, kalapi (fruit of rattan), native chicken, tilapia, edible flowers, the bukayo (sweetened coconut strips) of Burauen, heirloom rice, tikala (local herb), and ferns.

Judges in the cooking competition were amazed at how the cooks came up with dishes using ingredients that are not usually used in cooking, such as the kalapi and tikala.

Winners were the Paitan Farmers Association for its chicken con coconut milk (for the main dish category); Team Planalo for its Ice-blended red cooler (drink category); Mahagnao Volcano Natural Park and Ecotourism Association (MVNPEA) for its pako (fern) salad with kalapi vinaigrette (vegetable category); MVNPEA for its rice pudding in coconut milk and rose petals (rice category); MVNPEA for its Bukayo Taro Cake (dessert category); and the Burauen rural health unit for its sour tilapia cooked in tikala leaves (heirloom category). (PNA)

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