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The world takes a fancy to Filipino food

Mark Tilly / Khmer Times Share:
Baked grouper wrapped in banana leaves. Supplied

While traditionally known for its spectacular diving and scenery rather than its food, Filipino cuisine seems to be on the up and up. 
American chef and TV personality Anthony Bourdain told CNN Philippines last week that the country’s sizzling and textured dishes would be the next big thing for people out on the town. 
“I think certain Filipino dishes are more likely to take root and take hold more quickly than others,” he said, referring to sisig, a fried pork dish made out of the snout, ears and jowl. 
“It’s exactly what you need after a few beers – a perfect food.”  
The world’s recent exposure to the cuisine makes it an exciting time for Filipino chef Erika Chua, who is showing off dishes from her homeland at Raffles Hotel Le Royal from the 13-17 of June.
“It’s a nice way to introduce the culture, the food to the Cambodian people,” she said. 
“I’m excited to share the culture and the culinary themes, to share the cuisine of the Philippines and at the same time learn something from them as well.”
Chua’s family hail from the culinary capital of the Philippines, Pampanga, home to some of the country’s most iconic dishes, while her father’s Chinese roots helped her appreciate broader Asian cuisine. 
“The influences enabled me to expand the kinds of things I cook. Ever since high school I loved cooking, so I decided to take the culinary path,” she said. 
Wanting to put her own personal touch on her dishes, Chua uses the example of the classic adobo dish, a pork belly marinade. 
“Some people just stew it, but I marinate it first overnight and then I deep fry the pork belly. The marinade soaks through the pork belly, which makes it tastier,” she said. 
Chua fell in love with cooking as a child watching her grandfather cook, who passed those skills down to herself and her mother. She later studied culinary arts, graduating from Enderun Colleges in 2012. 
While she is the first to admit that Philippines food does not have the same level of exposure as other national cuisines, it has not stopped Chua from working in hotel kitchens around the world. 
“I know that the Philippines is not as popular as France or America food wise, but I would like to have people try our cuisine, mostly because it speaks a lot about our history. Through our cuisine they can learn more about our personality, our culture,” she said.
She will be sharing her knowledge with Cambodian chefs this week at Hotel le Royal and said it will be exciting to exchange recipes and experiment with Cambodian ingredients. 
“I’m excited to learn more about Cambodian dishes and ingredients and to make use of that and create a fusion with the Filipino cuisine,” she said. 
Food and beverage manager at Hotel Le Royal, Thomas Bianco, said it was an exciting time to be a Filipino chef, thanks to the growing popularity of the cuisine. 
“It is not really well known, but a lot of Filipinos are living abroad, so I think it will grow very quickly. Filipino food is becoming a new trend, so it is great to have chef Erika here to show off Filipino cuisine,” he said. 

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