DA hosts Pinoy food fair in Brussels

THE Department of Agriculture, through the Office of the Agricultural Attaché in Brussels, spearheaded the staging of a Philippine food promotional event — Hapag Yaman: Top Chefs Working with the Best of Philippine Products — held October 22, 2012, at the Tour & Taxis – Entrepot Royal in Brussels, Belgium.

‘Hapag Yaman’ is part of the DA’s European Food Circuit Tour which presents Philippine agricultural products, in cooperation with the private sector, to the mainstream European market. It introduces an innovative concept of tapping renowned chefs to interpret dishes using quality and high value export food products from the Philippines.

This year’s event featured an ensemble of nine top chefs in Belgium and France, most of whom have Michelin stars attached to their establishments, who prepared gourmet dishes using Philippine bangus, prawns, octopus, cuttlefish, ube, pomelo, calamansi, mangoes, sauces and fruit syrups, coconut oil, coconut sugar, among others.

DA Undersecretary Antonio A. Fleta welcomed the guests to this ‘by-invitation only walking dinner event’ which was attended by Europe-based food importers, restaurateurs, catering service providers, government, business and diplomatic officials and Philippine exporters and representatives of the Filipino Community.

In his opening remarks, Usec Fleta said “we are proud that acclaimed chefs worked, tasted, enjoyed and were inspired by our product offerings. They can attest to the premium quality and distinctive mark and flavor of our food products”.

The chefs had a Philippine taste and flavor familiarization session in September at the Philippine Embassy and were handed product samples by participating companies. They were given a free hand in creating their own signature dishes.except for one condition – that they work with available Philippine food products and ingredients for the Hapag Yaman event.

True to the vision of Hapag Yaman, the chefs came up with gourmet dishes that were familiar and appealing to the European palate. Featured dishes like Philippine octopus with misua, bangus escabeche (Western style), surf & turf cuttlefish, tiger prawn fremie and ube rice pudding in coco mousse and calamansi coulis were served to the enjoyment of the guests. Guests were also delighted to taste a classic Philippine dish, the chicken tinola – with one Filipino exporter – guest saying “it was one of the best tinolas I ever tasted”. San Miguel Beer, C2 iced tea, juices of Philippine Brand and Gina, organic coconut juice (Witsenburg Natural Products sourced from the Philippines), Gran Matador Brandy, Ginebra San Miguel gin, and Don Papa Rum were served throughout the evening.

Agricultural Attaché Pit Laquian said that Hapag Yaman serves as a platform of exchange for buyers and sellers that can view, taste and enjoy Philippine agricultural products in a conducive setting. Trade impact and sustainability is the twin-goal of Hapag Yaman.

“We wanted to get the message across that the Philippines is a reliable source of quality and safe food. Philippine food is at par with the world’s best. The event provided an extra opportunity to create awareness and to promote Philippines food products through a delightful gourmet experience,” Laquian added.

Completing the Philippine theme of the event is the adornment of the venue of tinalak fabrics made possible with the assistance of the Fiber Industry Development Authority (FIDA). The chefs and the members of the Hapag Yaman organizing team each donned also a barong tagalog made from pineapple fiber, designed by Greenhills-based Cora DJ Manimbo Fashion House. The fabrics were also courtesy of FIDA.

Philippine and Europe-based companies that have thrown in their support for Hapag Yaman include: Agri-Nurture Incorporated, Air France-KLM, Alsons Aquaculutre Corporation, Asean Travel, Asia Express Food, Bluefin Seafood Export Corporation, Bleeding Heart Rum Company, Bohol Agro Marine Development Corp., Brandexports Philippines, Inc., Cabiokid Foundation, Castillejos Afri-Farms Corp., Cocowonder Coconut Food Products, Cora DJ Manimbo Fashion House, Fiber Industry Development Authority, Gracias Foods2 Inc., Groothandel Claessens, LCG International, Maes Inox, Marigold Manufacturing Corp, National Agribusiness Corporation (NABCOR), Nerissa Seafoods, Philfresh Corporation, Slagerij Luc De Laet-Van Haver, Spadel, Tagum Agricultural Development Company, Inc. and Witsenburg Natural Products.

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