Kulinarya: Filipino Cuisine as a Global Brand

Pinakbet, a Filipino vegetable stew, is one of the dishes featured in Kulinarya: A Guidebook to Philippine Cuisine. (Alex van Hagen)
MANILA, October 24, 2008 – Food plays a major role in promoting a country’s national identity and culture. But while millions of Filipinos live and work in countries around the world–with a considerable number employed in the hospitality industry–Filipino cuisine has yet to make its mark overseas.

Kulinarya aims to change that. To promote and encourage greater appreciation of Filipino cooking traditions, the Asia Society partnered with the Department of Tourism and Anvil Publishing, and worked with special grants from San Miguel Purefoods and Del Monte Philippines Incorporated, to produce the Kulinarya Project, which includes Kulinarya: A Guidebook to Philippine Cuisine and a campaign to boost the Philippines' standing among the world's best cuisines.

The country's top chefs, including Glenda Barretto, chair of the panel, Claude Tayag, Gaita Fores, Conrad Calalang, Jessie Sincioco, and Myrna Segismundo, joined forces in identifying best practices in the preparation and presentation of Filipino dishes for Kulinarya. Food writer Michaela Fenix, photographer Neil Oshima, and graphic designer Ige Ramos rounded up the project’s creative team.

Kulinarya features over 90 recipes, based on regional specialties that have achieved countrywide acceptance. In defining Filipino food, the chefs agreed that Filipinos have a penchant for sourness, with dips or sawsawan accompanying dishes for added flavor. Adobo—considered by many as the quintessential Filipino dish—is defined as a process applicable not just to meats and poultry, but also to vegetables and fish. Entire chapters are devoted to pulutan (finger food) and merienda (snacks) fare.

To ensure that the recipes are easily understood by even kitchen novices, students of various culinary schools evaluated and validated the dishes. And while Filipinos are highly individualistic even when it comes to cooking, Kulinarya’s attention to detail helps eliminate the guesswork practiced in local kitchens.

The guidebook is only the first step in the Kulinarya movement. There are plans to launch training programs for butchers, cooks, food processors, service personnel and restaurant operators. Close coordination with the education sector will ensure that the hospitality industry are staffed by workers with the appropriate knowledge.

With support from the Center for International Trade Expositions and Missions, the Kulinarya campaign will also launch a website that will guide the agribusiness sector in setting standards for their produce, while providing information on packaging requirements and cooking equipment.

Kulinarya: A Guidebook to Philippine Cuisine is available at AsiaStore