• Thu. Nov 24th, 2022

Iloilo: the first culinary destination in the Philippines

ByStephanie M. Akbar

Oct 25, 2022

Discover the Flavors of Iloilo

The culinary offerings of a certain destination have a huge impact on the overall travel experience. To immerse yourself in a new culture, you also have to taste their cuisine. In Iloilo, for example, many people know that he is best known for La Paz Batchoy. But this city is more than that; it is a treasure trove of culinary wonders.

La Paz Batchoy by Sobredos Batchoy

Team Out of Town, along with other Manila writers, was recently invited to visit Iloilo for the launch of the “Flavors of Iloilo” cookbook. We also witnessed the most anticipated regional cooking competition in the country, called Tabuan. It aims to present culinary creations with exceptional flavors, ingredients and experiences.

Flavors of Iloilo ‘Ilonggo Cook Book’ Launch

Iloilo City is known as the “Food Paradise of the Philippines”. This slogan was officially assigned to the City of Love after a resolution approved by the Iloilo City Council in 2019.

Flavors of Iloilo Cook Book by Chef Rafael
Flavors of Iloilo Cook Book by Chef Rafael “Tibong” Jardeleza Jr.
Signed copy of the Flavors of Iloilo cookbook
Signed copy of the Flavors of Iloilo cookbook

To strengthen the city’s promotion of its culinary treasures, the Iloilo City Government, Iloilo Festivals Foundation, Inc., in collaboration with the premier chef and an advocate for Ilonggo’s heritage cuisine – Chef Rafael” Tibong” Jardeleza Jr., created the Ilonggo cookbook titled “Tastes of Iloilo.” Chef Jardeleza was also instrumental in declaring Iloilo City as the “Food Haven of the Philippines”.

Chef Tibong Jardeleza - Author of Flavors of Iloilo Cook Book
Chef Tibong Jardeleza – Author of Flavors of Iloilo Cook Book
Chef Tibong Jardeleza signs copies of the cookbook
Chef Tibong Jardeleza signs copies of the cookbook

The First Lady of Iloilo City, Mrs. Rosalie Trenas has also been instrumental in making this dream project a reality. The project promotes the City of Love and Iloilo Province, as well as culinary destinations in the Western Visayas and the Philippines. This cookbook will also strengthen the identity of the Ilonggos by preserving the heritage and tradition of the famous culinary arts and skills of the Ilonggos.

The more than two hundred page cookbook will include dishes and desserts made from beef, pork, poultry, seafood and vegetables cooked in the Ilonggo style and with ingredients sourced mainly from the city and Iloilo Province.

Manila chefs and media received a signed copy of the cookbook
Manila chefs and media received a signed copy of the cookbook

The launch of Ilonggo’s first cookbook, Flavors of Iloilo, was held on October 14 at 2:00 p.m. at the SM City Event Center. For orders, reservations and payment details for the ‘Flavors of Iloilo’ cookbook, please contact IFFI’s Ms Jennie Tamon (0910 552 7304).

Pickup and payment for books will be at the IFFI Office, Ground Floor Ker and Co. Building Iloilo City Hall Annex Monday through Friday (8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.).

Highlighting Ilonggo gastronomy

Chef Rafael “Tibong” Jardeleza Jr. is an advocate of Ilonggo heritage cuisine and the man who has been running the event for about a decade now. He created Tabuan, the annual Ilonggo and Western Visayas Heritage cooking competition, which showcases local cooking techniques and the use of local ingredients endemic to the Western Visayas.

Tabuan - Ilonggo and Western Visayas Heritage Cooking Competition 2022 Trophies and Medals
Tabuan – Ilonggo and Western Visayas Heritage Cooking Competition 2022 Trophies and Medals

The 9th edition of Tabuan was one of the most anticipated competitions among future Iloilo culinary superstars. The culinary competition aims to continue its legacy by inviting the best of the region’s best chefs to showcase their skills and culinary ingenuity. Tabu-an Cooking Competition was recently held at SM City Iloilo on October 15, 2022.

Chef Tibong Jardeleza added that this year’s contest featured exciting ways to experience Ilonggo cuisine. He encouraged participating chefs to be creative while maintaining the original taste of a particular Ilonggo dish.

In this year’s competition, they added a new segment. It was a bartending contest, where local ingredients were to be used to enhance the concoctions. Experienced practitioners and students from Western Visayas participated in the culinary competition.

This year, the jury
This year, the jury

The contest judges were chefs and food writers from Metro Manila and Bacolod. Angelo Comsti, food columnist for the Philippine Daily Inquirer, leads this year’s Tabuan judging panel. He was joined by Chef Don Colmenares, a celebrity chef from Bacolod, Chef Kalel Chan, the corporate chef of Raintree Restaurants Group, and Chef Don Baldosano of Linamnam Mnl.

One of this year's Tabuan participants in Iloilo City
One of this year’s Tabuan participants in Iloilo City

The competition has inspired local chefs to create and improve on age-old recipes. Through this, Iloilo has cemented its claim of being the country’s premier culinary destination.

Lechon nga baboy talonun, liver sauce and lumpia nga ubod sang nyog.
Lechon nga baboy talonun, liver sauce and lumpia nga ubod sang nyog.
Kuyabog (stuffed squab with tuba reduction sauce, ensalada nga puso sang saging and morisquetta tostada ala valenciana).
Kuyabog (stuffed squab with tuba reduction sauce, ensalada nga puso sang saging and morisquetta tostada ala valenciana).
Duo of Calabasa cheesecake dulce de leche quezo de bola and batwan sorbets.
Duo of Calabasa cheesecake dulce de leche quezo de bola and batwan sorbets.

Winning first place in three categories, this year’s grand prize winner comes from the Western Institute of Technology (WIT) in La Paz, Iloilo City. The team was led by Achilles Capuso and Oscar J. Salazar III, along with students Glecymar Tabares, France Louise Necitos, and Randy Salvilla.

Tabuan Heritage Cooking Contest Winners 2022 Western Visayas Ilonggo
Tabuan Heritage Cooking Contest Winners 2022 Western Visayas Ilonggo

All in all, it was another great year of showcasing Ilonggo cuisine. We are grateful to Chef Tibong for inviting us and promoting Ilonggo food to the world. After seeing this successful event, I hope other provinces will follow. As a traveler, I believe one of the best ways to showcase a destination is to introduce a unique plate. If the palate is happy, everything else will follow. See you next year in Iloilo!

Iloilo Travel and Excursion Packages

See our full list of recommended hotels and resorts in Iloilo City, Philippines, through Agoda, or you can also view available Airbnb properties in the city.

Read: The best Ilonggo dishes to taste in Iloilo


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