Filipino cuisine has been gaining interest globally, partly due to generations of people of Filipino descent seeking to understand their roots.
Multi-awarded chef, restaurateur, culinary educator, and cookbook author Gene Gonzalez has teamed up with UK-based chefs Budgie Montoya, Rex de Guzman, and Mark Corbyn in “The Filipino Kitchen: East Meets West,” an intermediate online cooking course that offers a deep dive into Philippine cuisine.
The course is hosted on Rassa, a UK-based online culinary educational platform. While the course will cater to non-Filipinos and persons of Filipino descent living overseas, that such a course has been developed shows that there’s a clamor to learn about Filipino cooking.
“I want Filipinos to be aware that there are fellow Filipinos abroad that are promoting Philippine cuisine that are very good exponents of Philippine cuisine in their own areas,” Gonzalez says. “The Filipino chefs from England are very creative souls… I would say that the purity of the Filipino cuisine that they do in England is quite pure… It is real Philippine cuisine.”
Gonzalez will be teaching food lovers the basic ingredients and techniques behind Philippine cuisines. “These are the lectures that I have on Filipino traditions and cultures: the culture of eating, what makes Filipino food different, and also (explaining that) many (Filipino) recipes are methods. Something like adobo, you multiply the number of families in the Philippines, and you have the correct number of correct adobo recipes.”
The discussions will also include Filipino food culture. “One of the things that I explained is the idea of sawsawan, or sauce,” he explains. “It does not insult the chef. In fact, it assures the chef that the person will be satisfied by participating with the person who cooks the meal… It’s not only participative between chef and diner, it’s also participative among diners based on eating together….”
The course will also take learners on virtual tours of a Philippine wet market, a natural vinegar distiller’s workshop, and of Manila’s Chinatown, the oldest Chinatown in the world. “There is so much that we should do about our cuisine, that we should protect and maintain (it) because a lot of the traditions are dying and it is only (through) consciousness and appreciation, probably of a global community, that will spur us to maintain this and not to just neglect or drop it.”
Gonzalez also explains how much effort it really takes to produce and harvest rice, a staple grain in many Asian countries including the Philippines. “People should know (what farmers go through). You have something like rice and everybody knows it’s a grain, but people don’t know how difficult it is.”
“The Filipino Kitchen: East Meets West” is a step towards explaining Filipino cuisine to the global audience. Gonzalez says, “I don’t (expect) the Filipinos in the Philippines to enrol in the show, but it would be good for them to know that there is a global effort to promote Philippine cuisine. We should really be proud of (our) traditions and we should really investigate and be in the know of what we have, what our cuisine has to offer to the whole world.”
Photos from joinrassa.com