Here's What Happens When Manila's Brightest Chefs Prepare Dinner All the Way in Palawan
The premise of Sunlight Ecotourism Island Resort's (SETIR) Gastronomic Wonders, held in Palawan in April, was complex.
Manila's brightest chefs—namely chef Don Baldosano of Linamnam Manila, chef Tina Legarda of Bamba Bistro, and chefs Kevin Navoa and Thirdy Dolatre of Hapag Private Dining—were tasked to take guests on a three-day culinary journey through contemporary Filipino dishes as part of an all-inclusive travel package. Oh, and did we mention that it would all be held in far-flung Culion, meaning some ingredients had to be flown in and cooking and plating would be by the beach?
This event was hosted by Sunlight Air and SETIR, in collaboration with Moët & Hennessy, as well as cookbook author, food journalist, and expert Angelo Comsti who organized the affair with Filipino Food Month in mind. The chefs each presented dishes that showcased their unique cooking styles in the form of a five-course Filipino meal.
Linamnam, one of the city's hidden gems, is owned by chef Don Baldosano who has made a name for himself through the private dining experiences he creates which feature a unique tasting menu starring Filipino dishes with a special touch. The twist is that he forages for ingredients to incorporate in different provinces, developing some one-of-a-kind dishes.
The menu he prepared for Gastronomic Wonders started with appetizers consisting of tapa, rice crackers, smoked longganisa tea, podpod na tulingan, and singulaw. The appetizers were followed by adobong dagat, a dish made up of Tanigue confit and succulent roasted squid with seafood jus. Then, sinigang na baka, pink Inuma rice from Mountain Province, and sweet and semi-frozen granita and panna cotta made of panocha paired with white chocolate and pineapples.
Chef Tina Legarda of Bamba Bistro took over for the second night, combining her knowledge of Filipino and Spanish cuisine to present new and old flavors. In Legarda's Paranaque restaurant, she serves up flavors she grew up with—imparting a tinge of nostalgia.
The chef cooked familiar dishes for the evening such as adobo at laing, but with duck adobo, mango marmalade, scallion crema, pickled onions, French toast, Maple with Lumpiang Triangulo of Laing, and smoked milkfish with sukang lanzones. She also served up her famous pechay ensalada with longganisa, salted egg, tomatoes, toasted cashew nuts, grilled corn, feta, and strawberry vinaigrette.
More Filipino classics such as pancit—only this time with grilled alumahan, prawn, mussels, roasted kalabasa, and shrimp-head jus paired with pesto pancit with malunggay, garlic, anchovies, and dalandan—and slow-roasted pork belly with atsuete, coconut and kamias sauce, and pickled mustasa combined with the pineapple-lemongrass rice followed. For dessert, there was drunken banana langka cobbler and vanilla milkshake.
The final night's menu was prepared by chefs Kevin Navoa and Thirdy Dolatre who run Hapag Private Dining in Quezon City. The restaurant, established in 2019, breaks Filipino tradition with the use of playful, colorful, yet refined dishes.
The meal began with grilled pork belly and fish sinuglaw (or kinilaw) as an appetizer. Followed by, suam na mais with gamet, a custard-based soup paired with local seaweed; grilled prawn with cranberry miso, dalandan beurre blanc, ikura, and cold grilled vegetables; slow-braised pares combined with Palawan lamayo sinangag and spicy XO sauce. Dessert then came in the form of creme brulee with lato, honeycomb, Palawan honey, pomelo pulps, Kaffir lime oil.
If you missed out on Sunlight Ecotourism Island Resort's Gastronomic Wonders, keep an eye out for future events through the resort's site below.