After all the aromas have wafted away and the smoke literally cleared, Samboan stood above the other Cebu towns that participated in the Cebu Provincial Government’s “Eats Meets West” culinary competition that concluded last November 19, after it took the top plum in majority of the honors at stake.

Samboan was one of 11 towns and cities that vied for cooking glory at the competition, as they clashed last November 18 to 19 at the Cebu Provincial Capitol grounds during the annual cooking event organized by the Provincial Government through the Provincial Tourism Office.

Cebu Provincial Tourism Officer Joselito “Boboi” Costas (second from right) joins the Samboan contingent, led by Tourism and Heritage Council Chairwoman Marivic Calderon (seventh from right) as the town’s representatives celebrate their awards.

Samboan was adjudged as having the best welcome drink, topping Santander and Oslob with its “Sabongga”; best appetizer, besting Tuburan and Oslob with its “Ginisang Tabanglang”; best dessert, lording over Bogo City and Santander with its “Coco Mais Pudding on Bedded Peanut Butter”; and best main course, topping Danao City and Aloguinsan with its “Linubihang Kagang”. Its “Coco Tartlet” was also chosen as the best pasalubong over Bogo City’s “Gabing Lami-a” and Alegria’s “Turmeric and Moringa Powder”.

Samboan’s winning main course food–linubihang kagang.

Samboan’s winning dessert–coconut mais pudding.

Argao, on the other hand, was picked as having made the best welcome lei over Bogo City and Tuburan, while Alegria was chosen as having done the best table setting, edging Tuburan and Santander. Bogo City, on the other hand, made the best interpretation of a 1923 recipe with its “Taugi ug Pasayan”, outpointing Samboan’s “Sinudlan nga Kalabasa” and Danao City’s “Kari nga Pasayan”. Best packaging honors, on the other hand, went to “Tuburan Coffee”, followed by “Herbal Powder Drink” by Fairtrade and “Turmeric Extract” also by Fairtrade.

A special highlight of the event was the cooking demo by Vice Governor Agnes Magpale, who prepared her version of the leche flan.

She said the dessert holds a special meaning to her as it was what she made for her husband right after their honeymoon, him having a “sweet tooth”.

Cebu Vice Governor Agnes Magpale added grandeur to the whole competition by demonstrating how she prepares her own leche flan.

“It is close to my heart because it is the first dessert I prepared for my then brand new husband,” the vice governor said.

Her tip on how to come up with the best leche flan? “You always put love into your cooking. It’s a very simple recipe but there’s a romantic story behind this,” she said.

She shared tips on preparing the leche flan, warming up to her audience by telling them alternative ways of doing portions of the whole process.

Eats Meets West is the output of the Cebu Community-based Ecotourism Project of the Provincial Government that was started in 2015. It was intended to help develop authenticity and pride of place highlighting the value of local cuisine.

Aside from showing how she makes her own version of the leche flan, Vice Governor Agnes Magpale also shared tips on how to make the dessert a whole lot sweeter.

The grand opening took place on November 16 in Tuburan town, which showcased its homegrown coffee.

On November 17, a whole-day “Food Forum” was held at the Capitol Social Hall, with seven experts taking on topics like the ancient diets of Cebuanos, what Cebuano cooking really is, healing with food, organic farming, and design for food. The speakers were Dr. Ame Garong of the National Museum, Mike “Chef Tatung” Sarthou, Teresa Ruelas, Eleonor Rivera, Vince Cinches, Dr. Gilbert Magallon, and Manila’s Guillermo “Ige” Ramos. The forum, which was open to the public, was attended by 265 guests.

The “Food Festival” also started on the same day, November 17, with different stalls located at the back of the main Capitol building offering different foods from several Cebu towns. The 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. food festival lasted up to November 19.

Marivic Calderon, chairwoman of Samboan’s Tourism and Heritage Council, said that the overwhelming win came as a shock to them, especially since the rules include that those who would join should not have culinary background or training.

Samboan Tourism Officer Iric Gamallo (left) was among those who joined the competition for their town.

She said that in coming up with what food to prepare, they opted for authenticity, or those already being prepared in the family and are familiar to those who are cooking them.

“Giingnan mi nga dili naka-training nga bata, so we looked for authenticity…recipe nga giluto ng daan sa ilang apohan, sa ginikanan, so kahibawo silang daan unsaon pagluto kay maoy naandan,” she said.

With the pressure heavy on their shoulders, being the “defending champions”, she said that like the other participants, they would continue to “level up” for the 2018 edition of the competition. #


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