(Chef Vince presents his array of gustatory delights. Contributed Photo)
CITY OF SAN FERNANDO — The likes of famous street food vlogger Mark Weins would have been ideal copycatting for local tourism, but despite Pinoy predilection for imitation, the direction seems to be headed to some uniqueness, at least in Pampanga where young chefs are almost as famous as their age-brewed dishes.
The Department of Tourism (DOT) in Pampanga is hitting it right: in a province as tropical and hot as the rest of the country, air-con’d malls (12 of them so far) off er a huge potential tourism jackpot – especially in a province where locals not only take pride in their already established culinary reputation, but are so generous as to readily off er visiting guests the plethora of dishes handed down through many lolas, if not lolos.
So last Saturday, the DOT and SM City-Telabastagan took concrete steps to realize the potential of mall and chef and food, in a mixture cooked to lure more both local and foreign folk to the perfect tandem of malling and eating, feasting maybe the aprt term considering the scale of culinary delights offered.
The SM City-Telabastagan’s location is perfect enough between Angeles and San Fernando cities. That’s part of the equation settled; the other part is not as easy, considering the number of Kapampangans seated on culinary thrones. The mention of Chef Vince, however, readily completed the equation.
Kapampangan restaurateur and chef Leonard “Vince” Garcia, if not his dishes, was the highlight of the culinary event that day at the mall.
With the cameras of media trained on him, Chef Vince, on a stage backdropped by a huge TV monitor focused on what he was to cook on stoves and ovens from sponsor UNOX, announced he would finish in less than two hours five dishes: Salmon En Croute, Braised Lamb Shank, Seafood Paella, Grilled Cajun Chicken, and Cream Puff Pastry (caps and lower case planned).
“International dishes the Cabalen way,” he quipped.
It was as if Chef Vince was conductor of the Manila Symphony Orchestra as his every move – suave and svelte – was obeyed by every ingredient until the five dishes, one after the other, were done and laid on a platter, with a promise the audience would have taste of each at the end of the concert, rather, cooking.
Meanwhile, other sponsors walled the audience with booths that showcased their products: Blu Coff ee, La Cimbali Hida, Le Culinaire, ISCAHM, Mama Sita’s, Philippine Wine Merchants, La Rose Noire, Bakels, BlizzardRef, Rainforest Kichene, Velvet Ganache, En Croute Cafe, E-derm Centers, Pick&Go Meatshop, The Shots Studios and Quedy Media Web Development and Digital Marketing.
Chef Vince is executive chef of Rainforest Kichene in the City of San Fernando, Velvet Ganache in SM City-Telabastagan and En Croute Cafe in Clark.
He is the spirit behind the Chef Vince Garcia Culinary Group whose mission is to act as catalyst of the local restaurant and food-related industry through innovative production, distribution, and branding.
The group has its eyes on leading enterprises that “offer and promote the local culinary and entrepreneurial talents of Kapampangans.”
Meanwhile at SM City-Telabastagan, Chef Vince did better than he promised. He finished the five dishes in less than two hours, to the delight of an audience made famished by the smell and sight of his food. They stood up, in wait for his go signal to taste the finished dishes arranged on the table down the stage.
Finally, small plates were distributed and hungry Chef Vince fans stabbed the dishes with forks to finally partake of his food. Between bites, tasters commented “Manyaman.” Some looked at strangers also munching, to ask, “Manyaman ne?” with nods as replies.The questions were not taken as search for confirmation, but affirmation of what’s deliciously Kapampangan, regardless of the dishes being international.
The twin of Pampanga malling and eating, okay, feasting, was thus born officially.