A culinary feast for all senses

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That’s how Anders Hallden, a Swedish chef who is now the General Manager of Waterfront Cebu City Hotel and Casino, describes Filipino cuisine, which was once overlooked by the global food community. But amid unfavorable head start, local dishes are now making their way to world food arena in a trailblazing fashion like breakthrough rock artists.

“It’s about time to put Filipino cuisine on the world food map. We are deeply engaged in promoting native Filipino flavors,” Hallden told Manila Standard when he welcomed a group of scribes from Manila at the grand lobby of the hotel in Lahug.

Queso de Bola Cheese Cake and Tsokolate OH with Peanut Butter Mousse

Holding true to its endeavor to training the spotlight on Filipino cuisine, the conglomerate has always prided itself in presenting a host of culinary cultures in many outlets including UNO, The Waterfront Group’s leading international buffet and a la carte café and restaurant. The leading F&B outlet is hosting a special culinary event, a festival of flavors dubbed “UNO’s Modern Filipino Taste: A Filipino Feast for All Senses.”

UNO’s food festival began on June 8 and will run until the end of August and is extended from the hotel in Lahug to its smaller, yet equally charming, sister right across the Mactan-Cebu International Airport.

Ngohiong Cones, Sinigang Bites and Palabok Bites

“We are also planning to launch similar events in our properties in Manila and Davao,” Hallden said, adding that they envision the culinary feast to be a nationwide event.

To give “UNO’s Modern Filipino Taste: A Filipino Feast for All Senses” the innovate twist that turned classic Filipino and Cebuano cuisines into contemporary foodie charmers, the restaurant tapped husband-and-wife tandem Chefs Roland and Jackie Laudico’s culinary expertise to put together a special menu of the best of Filipino cuisine in this three-month food fest. 

“Waterfront is one of the five-star hotels in the country that is Filipino owned. It serves as an inspiration for us to make this festival extra special,” Chef Lau told us in an interview.

Sisig Baskets containing assorted sisig in rice baskets topped with garlic aioli

He furthered that ever since he became a professional in the field, his advocacy is to promote Filipino cuisine. 

“We’ve been to several countries abroad, we have done several food festivals in different hotels and restaurants abroad, and it’s always Filipino flavors that we champion,” he shared. 

The celebrity chef will be coming back and forth to Cebu to oversee the kitchen and to ensure that the 65 dishes they prepared for this festival will maintain their quality.

Sushi-Noy is a Filipino maki topped with matambaka flakes

“The challenge is you’re working with a team that you have never worked with before. You’re working in the kitchen that is new to you and anything could go wrong, but we’re used to that, that’s what makes our job exciting. Good thing I’m working with other chefs like Chefs Maui, Tristan, and Victor who are all into Filipino traditional way of cooking,” Chef Lau explained.

Their culinary creations include a variety of Cebuano dishes with a twist such as Lechon Kambing, Beef Lechon, Spicy Lechon, Puso Surprise (hanging rice with a special filling inside) and Crusted Salted Fish.

“We did something special for the lechon, specifically. We made it more aromatic by using a special herb, similar to basil, which grows abundantly here in Cebu,” he said. 

Palabok Bites seasoned with Carcar Chicharon

Guests and food aficionados can taste how he masterfully recreated some of the local appetizers by giving them some seriously interesting twists such as Sisig Baskets (assorted sisig in rice baskets topped with garlic aioli), Palabok Bites (the goodness of palabok topped with Carcar Chicharon) and Sinigang Bites (tamarind-spiced kangkong chips topped with bangus mousse).

There are also cold appetizers such as Kinilaw Spoons (fresh fish in spicy calamansi and capsicum emulsion), Danggit Macaroon stuffed with Laing Mousse and Shrimps, and Sushi-Noy (Filipino maki topped with matambaka flakes). Hearty soups include Nilarang Bouillabaisse (a tasty version of the classic Cebuano fish soup) and Pochero Corn Chowder (beef soup with corn puree).

Spicy Bellychon

The main entrees, on the other hand, are a lineup of mouthwatering culinary fusions like the Kaldereta Pie (spicy lamb stew topped with potato mash and cheese), Balbacua Uno (slow cooked ox-tail, beef knuckles and skin UNO style), and San Miguel Battered Fish with Buro Cream (Filipino-style beer battered fish served with creamy fermented rice sauce), among others.

With “UNO’s Modern Filipino Taste: A Filipino Feast for All Senses,” the restaurant broadens and enriches its already diverse culinary offerings, thus helping in the further evolution of the Filipino food and cooking culture. The Laudicos’ imagination, creativity and signature flavors find a welcoming venue in the restaurant.

“We really wanted Filipino food to be respected globally. It should have happened many, many years ago. The only problem with Filipino cuisine is convenience products, all that instant crap. We do not only advocate Filipino food, we promote the traditional way of Filipino food. It’s not the cuisine that’s at fault, it’s the person that cooked it,” Chef Lau concluded.

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