Discovering the Philippines, One Dish at a Time

This is what happens when farmers and chefs get together: you have excellent ingredients prepared with love.

The Philippine Culinary Heritage Movement (PCHM) and Slow Food Youth Philippines organized ‘The Philippines on a Plate,’ a one-day workshop that aimed to highlight the link between the plants and animals we grow, the food on our plates, and the cultures and traditions that surround both.

The conference was divided into two parts: lectures and dinner. The lectures focused on different aspects of Filipino foodways–what they are, why they are important, why they must be preserved, and how they can be promoted.

Dinner was a five course meal made up of collaborations between chefs and farmers.

Pampagana (Appetizer)

Lechon at Atsarang Labanos by Chef Chris de Jesus, with pork from Lucciole

Ensalada (Salad)

Longganisang Imus at Pipinito by Chef Chris de Jesus with Imus organic longganisa from Big Ben’s and vegetables from Seeds and Fruits

Sabaw (Soup)

Laswa, or Dried Fish Infused Burnt Squash with Alugbati, Tomato, and Corn by Chef Patrick Go with produce from Teraoka Farms and sustainably caught seafood from Balangay’s Best

Ulam (Main Course)

Chicken Binakol Terrine, Kulma Porridge by Chef Nino Laus with ogranic chicken from Pamora Farms and vegetables from Kalinga Heirloom

Panghimagas (Dessert)

Lutya Cake with Rosela Jam by Chef Jac Laudico with ingredients from Down to Earth and Lucciole

Everyone has to eat. And in today’s highly specialized world, it can be hard to remember that what farmers produce have a direct impact on our lives. And food isn’t just something we order off a menu, post pictures of on Instagram, or fill our bellies with. Each dish has a history, one that tells us where we’ve come from, and sometimes, where we’re going.

The organizers, speakers, and participating chef and farmers on The Philippines on a Plate.

In a perfect world, we’d honor farmers as much as we honor chefs. After all, civilization literally would not have existed without agriculture. How would anyone have time to do anything like build cities if we didn’t have farmers growing food for us?

Everyone in this photo is working towards a Philippines where everyone has access to good, cheap, nutritious, and delicious food, and where indigenous produce and livestock and local foodways are respected.

Food is the easiest and most delicious way to interact with history. If we lose our foodways, our indigenous crops, our culinary cultures and traditions, we aren’t just losing recipes, we’re losing a craf that is also a chronicle of our land and people. We’re always asking what it means to be Filipino. Perhaps looking to our traditional cuisine can help us find the answer.


Yvette Natalie U. Tan is a multi-awarded author of horror fiction and the Agriculture section editor of Manila Bulletin.