Twenty-two dishes that feature the different flavors of the Philippines took center stage for a cook-off hosted by Unilever Food Solutions. Now on its third year, Certified Funlasang Pinoy is the nationwide search that celebrates Filipino cuisine. 

Talented chefs from Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao flocked to the Certified Funlasang Pinoy kitchen with their own recipes but it was the satisfying combination of Mindanaoan ingredient adlai and Kapampangan signature dish buro that earned Victor Barangan’s burong salmon adlai the highly-coveted P100,000 grand prize.

For his winning dish, Barangan used adlai instead of rice and introduced salmon cured in chicken seasoning powder for a bowl of buro with a richer, umami flavor. Pairing this with pork belly marinated in sinigang sa sampalok mix and slices of fresh lettuce and tomatoes, the chef served a plate of flavors that won the judges’ palate.

“I had to process and cure salmon to elevate the humble buro. The result was amazing,” says Barangan. The panelists—Aracama Filipino Cuisine managing partner and executive chef Fernando Aracama, Locavore chef and owner Kel Zaguirre, Eastplorations blogger Mark Tan, Philippine Daily Inquirer senior reporter Vangie Baga-Reyes, and UFS Philippines senior sous chef Carlos Aluning—all agreed.

“It takes belief in one’s self and true knowledge of your ingredients to be able to turn and elevate classic dishes into something innovative and modern without disregarding our own traditions and culture,” says Aracama. 

The runners-up proudly showcase their creations

Aside from Barangan, four other chefs each won P20,000 for their take on Filipino cuisine. Chef Belinda Moldez-Evangelista with her stuffed kimchi fried rice in roasted chicken inasal; Chef Gerry R. Austria with his sizzling bangus sisig; Chef Striessand Casallo with his ginataang tortang dariway; and chef Wilson Adriano with his beef serkele completed this year’s top five. 

The top five dishes were selected from the hundreds of recipes submitted by chefs and cooks at the beginning of the search. From there, diners selected a festive spread of 22 dishes that captured the Filipino taste and interest. All 22 winning chefs received plaques and certificates from Unilever Food Solutions for their entries.

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