At this year’s Certified Funlasang Pinoy search, we broadened the criteria so more Filipino dishes could take center stage. The four runners up who each won P20,000 featured unique Filipino dishes, showcasing the breadth of Filipino cooking that Unilever Food Solutions (UFS) aims to inspire.
Chef Gerry Austria’s Sizzling Bangus Sisig
Chef Gerry’s Sizzling Bangus Sisig truly caught the judges’ attention. He hails from Dagupan City, which is famous for all sorts of bangus specialties, such as boneless marinated, boneless plain and regular bangus.
“Bangus has always been our restaurant specialty,” Chef Gerry said. “Our constant innovation in the kitchen led us to offer Sizzling Bonuan Bangus Sisig. Both our local and foreign guests enjoy it. Filipinos love pork sisig, so we simply replaced pork with fish.”
The idea was a hit, especially with the UFS competition judges.
“It was really good,” said UFS Philippines Senior Sous Chef Carlos Aluning. “Usually, when you say sisig bangus, it’s one-dimensional — you just fry and mix it. Austria’s sisig offers complete recados. It’s very flavorful, and perfect with rice.”
Chef Belinda Modlez - Evangelista’s Stuffed Kimchi Fried Rice in Roasted Chicken Inasal
The Filipino-Korean inspiration for Chef Belinda’s Stuffed Kimchi Fried Rice in Roasted Chicken Inasal also won a big yes from the judges. She knew how Filipinos love Korean dramas, so she tried to fuse kimchi into her inasal dish.
One of the judges, Locavore Chef & Owner Mikel Zaguirre found it interesting and unique.
“It was executed nicely,” said Zaguirre. “It’s also relevant since Korean food is very much in. It’s not really hard to comprehend that kimchi and inasal are a perfect combination. It’s accepted and updated in a way that you don’t feel weird about the innovation.”
Chef Wilson Adriano’s Beef Serkele
Chef Wilson’s Beef Serkele is an heirloom recipe from a family in Baliwag, Bulacan.
“It’s a recipe of my boss, Mrs. Normita Alejo,” said Adriano. “I’ve been working in their restaurant for 16 years now. She taught me the secrets of cooking serkele, which is another version of dinuguan, but instead of pork innards, we use beef innards.”
Chef Mikel Zaguirre also found the dish extra unique and tasteful. It takes certain skill, he said, to clean, prepare and use beef innards in a dish.
“To execute a simple dish like dinuguan is the most difficult to do,” said Zaguirre. “The level of skill is different. At this level of competition, you cannot expect a bowl of dinuguan and puto to blow you away. That’s the curveball in this competition. No matter how simple the dish is, if the confidence is there, it makes a big difference.”
Chef Streissand Casallo’s Ginataan Tortang Dariway
For Chef Streissand’s Ginataan Tortang Dariway, the lowly alimasag from Pangasinan took center stage.
“I wanted to take a familiar dish like Ginataan Alimasag to the next level,” said Casallo. “I wanted to make it more convenient to eat but maintain familiar ingredients like the kalabasa, which I pureed and the sitaw stir-fried with the Ilokano trinity of garlic, shallots and ginger.”
The result impressed the judges.
“The taste was fresh and clean, and it highlighted the sweetness of the alimasag,” said one of the judges, foodie influencer Mark Tan from popular blog Eatsplorations. “The use of local ingredients is very important in giving Filipino food justice. It’s very relatable and modern by serving it as alimasag crab cake. And that made the big difference.”
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