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The humble pares gets an upgrade, wins tilt

THE humble pares — a meal traditionally composed of braised beef stew served with garlic fried rice and a bowl of clear soup that is most often served in roadside eateries — got a makeover and won the grand prize at the East Meets West Culinary Competition.

While the five finalists for the competition had already been announced last month, the five finalists were pitted in a cook-off at the Grand Hyatt on Nov. 30 to determine the winner.

The East Meets West Culinary Competition was organized by Bord Bia, the Irish Food Board, to help promote Irish pork and beef products.

The winner of the cook-off, Joaquin Carsi Cruz, a student of Center for Culinary Arts-Manila, took home the grand prize with his winning dish Pares Sa Gubat (Short rib and mushroom pares with sweet garlic adlai risotto and mango chili fluid gel). Mr. Cruz won P88,000 in prize vouchers, a hotel staycation with an Irish breakfast, high-quality chef’s kit supplies, and a cooking class with the judges: chefs Philip John Golding (Founding Chairman and President of Disciples de Escoffier International Asia – Philippines) and Mark Hagan (Executive Chef of Grand Hyatt Manila, Bonifacio Global City). Rounding out the committee of judges was Donnie Bigcas, last year’s winner.

Mr. Cruz also won a trophy, which he unfortunately broke during the live event, streamed via Zoom. “Our champion broke his trophy. He was so excited,” said host Issa Litton.

In 2nd Place was culinary instructor Miguel Antonio Lorino with his Kabisera: Pahimis Coffee Braised European Beef Shank. Bianca Abola, a student of De La Salle, College of Saint Benilde, took 3rd Place with her interpretation of a regional dish, Bulcachong Smoked Pork Jowl Curry. Mae Romelin Almirante, a student from La Flamme Bleue Center for Culinary Arts, Iloilo City came in 4th with a classic Pork Belly Adobo with Tagine. Finally, Marc Rensus Espinosa, a culinary student from Tarlac City, Pampanga, took the final spot with his Striploin Bistek.

The entries were judged on the following criteria: Taste and Texture (50%), Correct professional cooking and preparation (25%), Mise en place (10%), Presentation (10%), Authenticity and originality of the recipe (5%).

Mr. Cruz spoke about the Irish short ribs he used for his recipe. “Compared to other short ribs, it really is beefier. It gave so much flavor to my actual sauce.”

“I’m not going to lie. It was inspired by all these drinking nights when I would have pares to cap the night,” he said about why he choose to focus on the meal. Of course, he came up with a twist, which came from his influences as a child. “Pares is my comfort food, and I come from a family of chefs, I was taught classic technique, and I applied it into Filipino cooking.”

Judge Mr. Hagan after all said, “We were really looking for a story.” — JL Garcia

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