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Visayan Culinary Talent Takes Center Stage at Knorr Funlasang Pinoy Year 2

Five chefs and cooks from across the Visayas region reinterpret classic Filipino dishes infused with local flavors and ingredients, to create unique and delectable creations at Funlasang Pinoy Twist Fest Year 2 presented by Unilever Food Solutions (UFS) Philippines and Knorr®

Visayan Culinary Talent
24-year-old pride of Leyte Chef Nico Julius Joson (middle) is awarded as the first-ever Knorr Funlasang Pinoy Visayas Champion with his modern makeover of the Filipino favorite Adobo - the Adobecque.

Top chefs and cooks representing Leyte, Cebu, Panay, and Busuanga delved into the heart of native flavors and ingredients and turned classic Filipino favorites – crispy pata, adobo, kare-kare, bulalo, and sisig – into culinary delights with novel tastes at the first-ever Visayas leg of the Knorr Funlasang Pinoy Twist Fest Year 2.

Read also: Celebrate the diversity of Filipino culinary talent and dishes at Funlasang Pinoy Year 2

Chef Nico Julius Joson, who hails from Leyte, bested the region’s finalists with his Adobecque, his innovative take on the Pinoy favorite Adobo. Joson’s winning creation applied two methods of cooking the pork belly – simmered and grilled – and served the tender meat with java rice, pickled carrots, and cucumber, which showcased a dish that was as mouthwatering as it was beautifully presented.

Knorr Funlasang Pinoy Twist Fest Year 2 Winning Dish from Visayas: Adobecque by Chef Nico Julius Joson

Classic Adobo cooked in two ways- pork belly marinated in adobo sauce, simmered, then grilled.

“We at UFS recognize the immense talent of our local chefs and cooks, which is why we launched Funlasang Pinoy last year, and have decided to make it bigger this year,” shared James Benedict Carreon, Managing Director of UFS Philippines. “We want to have a platform where we continue to recognize the exemplary talent of chefs and cooks around the country, and showcase the rich and lively culinary scene that the different regions of the country have to offer.”

Any traveler knows that a tour through the Visayas region is truly a feast for the senses – not only in its charming attractions and vibrant cultures, but also through its delectable array of unique cuisines. For this year’s competition, the roster of chefs and cooks representing the region perfectly captured the diversity in the flavors and taste to their culinary creations.

From Sinampalokang Adobong Manok, Stuffed Chicken Adobo, Chicharong Bulaklak in Kare-kare Sauce, to Bulalo with Coconut Cream, to the winning Adobecque, the finalists presented an array of innovative dishes bursting with local flavors such as bagoong (shrimp paste), atsuete (annatto), and gata (coconut milk) – all championing the Visayas’ vibrant food scene.

Bulalo with Coconut Cream by Chef Arlyn Conanan

Bone tender meat sautéed in lemon grass, ginger, onion, garlic and simmered in coconut milk and coconut cream.

Chicharong Bulaklak in Kare-kare Sauce by Chef Wyreen Joy Alarcon

Crispy chicharong bulaklak with pechay, string beans and eggplant in kare-kare sauce made with toasted ground sticky rice and peanut butter, served with Busuanga-made bagoong.

Cebuano’;s Stuffed Chicken Adobo with Atsuete Quail Egg Fried Rice by Chef Junrey Remiter

Cebu’s finest local ingredients combined into one dish.

Sinampalokang Adobong Manok by Chef Chad Anton Alao

Classic Adobo dish reinvented by adding a taste of sampalok sourness.

“Food innovation is not about betraying our own tradition and heritage. A well- executed dish is one that can transform a familiar experience into one that can be distinct and unforgettable,” shared Chef Fernando Aracama, the Immediate Past President of LTB Philippines Chefs Association, which supports the Funlasang Pinoy program. “I believe that chefs and cooks are all artists of an experience employing a wide-array of ingredients and techniques, and drawing from their personal inspirations, to create masterpieces,” he added.

Read also: Julita Urbina, a Woman of Great Culinary Influence

“I have always believed that it is every Filipino chef and cook’s calling to keep promoting our local cuisine by finding ways, techniques, and methods to elevate the diners’ experience. Funlasang Pinoy gave me this opportunity, and helped me realize that there are no limitations in being creative in the kitchen, which I hope my co-chefs also experience,” Knorr Funlasang Pinoy Year 1 winner Danilo Puga II also added.

Knorr Funlasang Pinoy Twist Fest Year 2 will hold its third and final cook-off in Davao on August 22 to complete all three national grand winners. The winning chefs get to take home each a Php100,000 cash prize, and an exclusive opportunity to attend the UFS Chefmanship Academy to further enhance their culinary knowledge and expertise through mentorships.

“More than being a competition, we hope for Funlasang Pinoy to help create a better Filipino dining experience, take Filipino cuisine to brand new heights, and share it with more people—here and abroad,” Carreon concluded.

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