Margarita Forés has always been fueled by her passion for food. That passion has taken her from humble beginnings cooking in her kitchen to becoming one of the most successful and sought-after chefs in the country today. A year after becoming Asia’s Best Female Chef of 2016, Margarita surprises and delights us once again with culinary adventures but this time through our TV screens.
Harvest with Margarita Forés is a four-part series from CNN Philippines that takes us all over the country finding unique stories of community, revelations about Philippine culture, and above all a gastronomic adventure. In the span of 30 minutes, Margarita takes you on a journey to an everyday rural Philippines we don’t normally see. “I think that the show has been a priceless opportunity for me,” Margarita shares. “I love the fact that I’m no longer a tourist in my own country.”
In each of the four episodes, Margarita creates a new dish inspired by the province she is currently in and the people she talks to. “I love the whole concept of Harvest—it allows me to travel the Philippines and discover many more dishes, ingredients and concepts that have to do with food that will enrich my work.” Margarita’s whole face lights up with excitement as she recounts what she’s seen in the days that it takes her to film an episode. “Can you imagine…fish tendon? I never knew it existed!” she exclaims. “So it’s like eating callos but it’s seafood! Incredible!”
The dishes she cooks are never planned. Which adds a little bit of stress and pressure to Margarita as she discovers a province and their cuisine while she’s already filming. But inspiration from not just the local produce but the people and their cooking techniques always sparks Margarita’s creative mind. “Learning old-fashioned ways of cooking certain dishes that we never knew about because they are super homestyle dishes [indugenous to the province] wherever we go. It turns into a kind of “eureka” moment for me when I begin imagining how I can interpret it.”
“I go there with a real fresh eye, without knowing that much about who I’m going to meet or what I’m going to see in the market, and that’s where we get the inspiration for the dish [in each episode]. It just happens when we get there.” Sort of like a culinary kismet. But what makes this series to fun to watch is seeing Margarita in action and becoming infected by her enthusiasm, inspired by her discoveries in what is found our country’s backyards. “The dishes I prepared for the last two episodes were pretty much on the fly. They were chosen after I’ve met the resource people and gone to the local market to see the produce. It is super exciting and what I learn is quite priceless, actually for someone like me who has been working with food for 30 years now and I think that I’m looking at it with child-like eyes and a sense of wonder. It’s all new to me, as if I were traveling abroad… and to think all of this exists locally.”
Harvest with Margarita Forés premieres on Feb 18, 7 p.m. on CNN Philippines Free TV Channel 9 or via live streaming on cnnphilippines.com/video.