Last Friday, I was invited to check out the Manila Food and Wine Festival’s Celebrity Chef Cook-Off. Carina was s’pose to be my date but she caught a tummy bug and couldn’t leave home so I ventured to MOA alone thinking it was a “ticket only” kind of event. When I got there I found out that the entrance was free for all, you just needed the tickets for food and that the portions were large enough for people to share. What a bargain. There were six chefs battling it out in six trucks, the nice folks at MFWF gave me two free tickets of my choice, so I could sample the food.
Naturally, I was drawn to Robby Goco’s Italian Porchetta which is basically Italy’s version of lechon. I am also a big chicken wing nut so I opted for one of Bruce Lim’s mystery chicken wing combos. Other choices were sushi from Marvin Agustin, dumplings and fried rice by Sau del Rosario, sausage sandwiches by Florabel Co and Pinoy favorites with a twist by Tristan Encarnacion.
I was there early and so flippin’ excited for the porchetta that the folks at Chef Robby’s truck let me in for a sneak peek. Here’s the pork in all its crisp glory, obviously well seasoned and fresh out of the roast.
When the clock hit 6:30, food was served and I was first in line. Wow, I wasn’t expecting it to be this huge so at Php 250 it was a major steal. Immediately I thought of my mom and how I should’ve invited her to share in the joy of this sandwich with me. Anyway.
I was so overwhelmed. Here’s a photo of just half the thing. The sandwich had porchetta (Italian-style lechon), onion marmalade, arugula and a sunny side up egg. The bread was firm but had a crunch to it which really added to how great this sandwich was. In terms of flavor the porchetta was excellent, I could taste the herbs and I don’t even know but the whole sandwich just tasted like nothing I’ve ever tasted. It was just too good. I asked Chef Robby, “Where can I eat this after today?” He said that they MIGHT just have it in Cyma as an option but that it’s still in the works.
Busy with half my sandwich, I bumped into a college friend Justine. She mentioned that she had a spare ticket to Marvin Agustin’s sushi truck cause her friend didn’t show up. I traded half my sandwich for the ticket. I also thought that if I finished the whole thing I probably wouldn’t get to eat anything else.
He was serving up two rolls but you could only pick one per ticket. Here’s a shot of the Spicy Caravan, which was salmon based at the display area. Since I’m a sucker for spicy food it’s also what I ended up ordering. He was also serving an unagi roll he named Black Dragon.
The sushi came in rolls of eight on a bed of deep-fried shredded kani sticks. The Spicy Carvan was topped with salmon and tempura flakes and while I had nothing to complain about I found this pretty average. It wasn’t like sushi I couldn’t get anywhere else, you know? Like if I ate at John and Yoko or Sumosam, they’d probably have something VERY similar if not the same thing.
After half the sandwich and about 3 rolls of sushi, I was so full I decided to walk over to MOA to take a break. I went to Booksale, said hi to a friend at Uniqlo and basically just strolled around until I felt like I had space for some chicken wings.
I got back to the tent close to 8PM. I was still full but I had a ticket for the wings I wanted to use up. Choices were: Coke-glazed Soy Chicken Wings with Garlic Chips and Sesame Seeds, Singaporean Style Chili Wings with Crab Butter and Egg or Candied Chili Wings with Fresh Fruit and Bacon.
I ended up with the Coke-glazed ones despite the fact I don’t even drink coke. It just sounded interesting. Ok I had one bite and man, these were so soggy. I think it was a wrong move on their end to pour the sauce on the wings so early on. I couldn’t appreciate this at all so I went to the truck to clarify if the wings were meant to be served this way. Chef Bruce Lim wasn’t there at the time so the person in charge said that what I was served was indeed correct. This was totally not worth it. Also, with just two pieces of chicken wings and three minuscule buns, it was kind of a rip-off especially when I compare it to the porchetta sandwich.
Props to the people from the Manila Food and Wine Festival for organizing such a successful event. I knew a bunch of people who thought this was going to be there all-weekend and were devastated to find out they missed it. Hopefully, they plan something like this again soon! I heard such good things about the Chinese food at Chef Sau’s that I kind of wish I picked that instead of the wings. Maybe next time!
Celebrity Chef Cook-off Challenge was the kick-off event to the Manila Food and Wine Festival 2013 at the SM Mall of Asia Grounds, Block 12
on February 22, 2013 from 5pm-11pm.
Disclaimer: I was invited to this event so all food was free. Views are evidently honest and my own.