Although he had no formal culinary education, Arnold Ares, 48, was no pushover when it comes to cooking. Afterall, he runs his own business in Catmon town, where he cooks food for customers.

Last November 18 to 19, however, was an experience he could not forget, as he was, literally, taught how to cook.
Daghan kong nakat-onan, daghan kong nahibaw-ang pamaagi sa uban sa pagluto,ug pamaagi sa judges sa pag-appreciate sa among luto, unsay basihan nila (I learned a lot from others on their way of cooking, and how judges appreciate what we cooked, on their basis in judging),” he said.

He represented Catmon, Cebu during the “Eats Meets West” held at the Capitol grounds, the first for the town to join the annual cooking competition.

Although Catmon failed to bag any of the prizes at stake in the contests (best appetizer, dessert, welcome drink, main course, interpretation of a 1923 cookbook recipe, pasalubong, table setup, packaging, and welcome lei), he was going home with new knowledge that he knew would make him a better competitor next time.

Arnold Ares, representing Catmon town, prepares his “mixed fruits and squash in coco cream” as entry in the “best dessert” category of the E

He also learned a thing or two about competition rules, after the judges said Catmon’s welcome drink was supposed to be the best, only that the town was disqualified as it was not able to start on time.

Kinahanglang sakto ka sa oras, sakto sa preparasyon (You should have enough time, and well-prepared),” he said.

Like him, Nenita Bastonero, 61, was also a first-time participant in the competition. The Bogo City livelihood program operations manager said that while she has been cooking all her life, she had no culinary training and just relied on her experience.

“Gawas sa fellowship (with other participants), I was able to gather information from other groups unsaon nila pagluto, ug nakatilaw sab ko sa ilang luto (how they cook, and I also got to taste what they prepared for the competition),” she beamed, adding that they just enjoyed the whole experience.

Bogo City Tourism Officer Jocelyn Tan was equally ebullient, saying they did not really think about winning but on savoring the excitement of the event.

Bogo City’s “ghoche”, which judged picked as second best dessert.

The competition, she said, taught her a lot of things.
“We just enjoyed every moment. Naa many ganiy madawat (nga prizes) diri, bonus na lang na siya (If we get any prize, it is just an added bonus),” she said.

Although, a first-time participant, Bogo City showed the other cities and towns it is a force to reckon with in the coming editions of the competition. It won second best honors in the appetizer, welcome lei, and dessert categories, and took the top prize in the interpretation of a recipe in a 1923 cookbook for its “Tauge ug Pasayan”.

“I’m thankful to the coaches nga chefs. It was a very great experience,” she said.

Bogo City also took the second best title for the “welcome lei” category.

The event also led them to find new ingredients that could actually be used in cooking.

“We discovered local ingredients nga pwede diay (that we can also use in cooking),” she said.

A newbie that still has much to learn in the competition, Bogo City promised to adopt what it learned, as it sets its eyes on the competition next year. #

Proudly showing off their certificates after the awarding.


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