The Department of Tourism (DOT) and the Tourism Promotions Board (TPB) recently led select members of the local and international media on a gastronomy tour of Pampanga, Binondo, and the Bonifacio Global City, as an appetizer to the much anticipated World Street Food Congress (WSFC) in Manila on 20-24 April this year.
DOT Tourism Development Undersecretary Benito C. Bengzon, Jr. said, "This event is another occasion for the country to showcase local cuisine and street food experiences that mirror the unique Filipino palate which has evolved for centuries on. It likewise highlights our fondness for dining… and snacking more than the usual frequency, as a means to socialize and express one’s hospitality. In as sense, the gustatory and social experience becomes a cultural norm that is uniquely Filipino and which should be experienced by our foreign guests."
No less than K.F. Seetoh, celebrity food guide maven and creator of WSFC, himself came all over from Singapore to join the 15-hour food frenzy last Saturday that was organized by the TPB, DOT’s marketing arm.
Speaking at a media briefing, Seetoh said that it is the first time WSFC will be held outside Singapore since its first edition in 2013. "This will not happen at all, if not for the vision of the DOT/TPB and the Ayala Malls," he added, recalling the months of preparation.
Among the considerations the organizers cited in choosing the Philippines to host WSFC16 include the country’s "dynamic food heritage inherited from its native flavours and the many world culinary concepts" and its people for being well-travelled and "receptive of international flavours." They also acknowledged that CNN named the Philippines as "the second best culinary destination in the world."
"Great food need not be expensive," the founder of the renowned Makansutra and Singapore food ambassador was quoted as saying. To get people on a feeding frenzy, "it should be comforting, real and affordable," Seetoh suggested, implying that food can likewise be a wellspring of opportunities.
Foodies, culinary practitioners and restaurateurs alike can expect to hear more about thought leadership dialogues, presentations on the future of street food, and the plethora of opportunities in this trade from some of the world’s visionaries in the street food business during the two-day Food Dialogue with the theme "Comforting Flavors of Home", one of three components of WSFC16.
Among the speakers and presenters include Sangeeta Singh of the National Association of Street Vendors of India (NASVI), Sean Basinski of Street Vendor Project in New York, Stephen Werther of the Bourdain Market, Indonesian culinary ambassador William Wongso, and Our Awesome Planet creator Anton Diaz of MercatoCentrale.
WSFC16 also includes a Food Jamboree that will feature panel discussions and cooking demonstrations by 24 street food hawkers from Indonesia, China, India, US, Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore and the Philippines. Presenters like Jin Ji Kway Chap, KengEngKee’s Seafood and Alhambra Pedang Satay Stall from Singapore; Banh Can 38, Taliwang Bersaudara and Martabak Markobar from Indonesia; and Churros Locos from the US, will showcase iconic dishes rarely seen in the Philippines with prices ranging from PHP200.00 and above.
The best players and professionals in the field of street food business, on the other hand, will be recognized at the World Street Food Awards under five different categories such as: Best Street Food City, Best Street Food Concept/Restaurant, Best Writer/Commentator/Blogger, Best Publication, and Best 20 Street Food Masters.
TPB representative Karem Miranda, Officer-in-Charge of Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, and Exhibitions (MICE), said WSFC16, together with Madrid Fusion Manila and Flavors of the Philippines, is slated for the celebration of Philippine Food Month in April.
Meanwhile, heritage cooking, unique food finds from some hole-in-the-wall, and a bustling weekend market summed up last weekend’s smorgasbord experience. Participants were treated to a degustation of some of the iconic Filipino comfort food like sisig or sizzling pork bits at Aling Lucing’s, to the exotic kamaru or sautéed crickets at Everybody’s Cafe, tamales Pampangueña at Cafe Fleur’s in Pampanga, to an heirloom recipe of pancit canton from a Chinese immigrant named Amah Pilar’s at Quik Snack, the quintessential Chinese pork and vegetable dumplings at Dong-Bei and oyster omelette at Sincerity Cafe in Binondo, to the modern street food buffet with a twist at Sarsa Kitchen and Bar, and the star of every feast, a five-kilogram Cebu lechon stuffed with truffle rice at Pepita’s in Mercato Centrale.
Everyone who came with a huge appetite went home not only an ounce heavier but also earned the bragging rights from the WSFC organizers as the newest Commando Foodies.
Tickets to the WFS Dialogue are available at
The World Street Food Congress 2016 is presented by the DOT, TPB and the Ayala Malls in cooperation with Makansutra.