The Department of Agriculture (DA)-Bicol held a cooking contest among its employees on April 23, 2021 at the DA Malasakit Center in Pili, Camarines Sur to mark the Filipino Food Month celebration. 

Dubbed as “Kadiwa Master Chef Cook-Off,” the activity aims to highlight the use of local farmers’ produce from the Kadiwa ni Ani at Kita retail outlets as the only source of ingredients in preparing Filipino dishes in line with the theme “Iba’t Ibang Luto, Pinoy ang Puso (Different Dishes, Pinoy at Heart).”

“At the Department of Agriculture, our focus is on food production… Because of this pandemic na-emphasize ang pangangailangan sa pagkain para tayo mag-survive sa pandemyang ito… Ito pong activity na ito should be a tribute to the ingenuity ng ating mga tauhan,” Regional Executive Director Rodel P. Tornilla said.

For her part, Regional Technical Director (RTD) for Operations Luz R. Marcelino said that the activity is a great opportunity to promote the marketing and innovation of farmers’ produce. She also underscored the essence of making use of ingredients that are in season.

DA-Bicol through the Agribusiness and Marketing Assistance Division (AMAD) headed by Adelina A. Losa provided each team with P1,500 to purchase all the ingredients they need from the Kadiwa ni Ani at Kita retail outlet inside the DA compound. AMAD also provided all contestants with cooking stove and cooking utensils. The contestants were given 30 minutes to buy all the needed ingredients, one hour and 10 minutes to prepare the dish, 10 minutes for plating, and 10 minutes to prepare the title cards and recipes. The judges rated the dishes based on taste and nutritional value (50%), creativity (20%), and technique in terms of execution, use of ingredients, and cost-efficiency (30%). 

Louie Cortez and Noriel Gallarte of the Office of the Regional Executive Director were named Kadiwa Master Chef 2021 with a cash prize worth P5,000 for their Mixed Vegetable Fritter. Irish April Oliver and Emegene San Buenaventura of the Philippine Rural Development Project (PRDP) tied with Lea Capucao and Wilvina Barnedo of the Research Division as second place winners for their Farmer’s Bounty (Sweet and Spicy Adobo, Ensalada, with Camote Fries) and Cordon Green, respectively. Jefferson Villaezar and Paulo Royoll of the Field Operations Division (FOD) won third place for their Chicken Adobo ala Potoy. They received cash prizes worth P3,000 and P1,000, respectively. Non-winners were given P500 cash as consolation prizes.

Other entries prepared by the contestants were Pilar Version Laing with Garden Salad, Bistek-style Tuna Steak with Pako Salad, Adobo with Pineapple ala C, Adobong Isda with Ensaladang Gulay, and LABer’s Fish Salpicao.

RTD for Research and Regulations Dr. Edgar R. Madrid said that the activity promotes cooking Filipino dishes which are safe, delicious and nutritious.  He also encouraged everyone to support locally-cooked food with local ingredients.

“Tangkilikin natin ang sariling atin… While many, when we talk about going Western, are talking about Western dishes, restaurants, Western-cooked foods, we at the Department of Agriculture, palagi nating pinu-push yung cooking of local dish because we want to help our local farmers and fisherfolk continuously produce our own food. In that way, we are helping them in that activity to increase their income and production,” he added. 

DA-Bicol observed the health protocols and guidelines set by the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) while conducting the activity.

Filipino Food Month celebration started in 2018 when President Rodrigo R. Duterte signed on April 13, in the same year, Presidential Proclamation No. 469 declaring the month of April as National Filipino Food Month. The month-long celebration is led by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), the Department of Agriculture (DA), and the Philippine Culinary Heritage Movement (PCHM). Aside from promoting the country’s culinary traditions and traditions and their role in Filipino culture and heritage, the Filipino Food Month celebration also aims to support local industries as well as the agri-fishery sector nationwide. (Annielyn L. Baleza, DA RAFIS V)