EXPLORE authentic Filipino food with one of the Philippines’ leading culinary artists, Chef Claude Tayag, as he takes viewers to discover the colorful variety of local cuisine in “Chasing Flavors,” which will premiere on Lifestyle TV this Saturday, May 27.
The well-known Kapampangan chef will probe the origins of Filipino’s iconic dishes from region to region, one dish at a time, and will attempt to answer what makes each dish unique and outstanding in its own right.
The new show will feature dishes like adobo, paksiw, sinigang, kilaw and sisig, pancit, lechon, cured meats, stews, inihaw, salted dried fish, gata, gulay, panghimagas, and rice in the coming episodes.
Chef Claude, a self-taught culinary expert, known to have uplifted Kapampangan cuisine through Bale Dutung, his restaurant located in Angeles City, Pampanga, noted that his love and passion for cooking started at an early age.
Growing up in a large household, he was used to seeing the constant activity his mother did in the kitchen—feeding him and his eleven siblings.
“I did not have formal training; my actual training is at home, in the kitchen. I was the ninth out of twelve children. So, can you imagine the amount of cooking my mother did? And when we wanted to eat more than what was served, she taught us to be self-reliant and make our own meals. That’s when I started experimenting in our kusina,” he said.
He added that it wasn’t until 1979 when he backpacked through Europe for a year, that he discovered a certain longing for Filipino food. He foraged through wet markets to find alternative ingredients and soon found himself enjoying cooking Pinoy fares that soon became one of Bale Dutung’s specialties.
Bale Dutung, translated in English as “wooden house,” is actually Chef Claude and his wife Maryann’s home. It was built in 1991, using materials from old churches, bowling alleys, and recycled wood.
Chef Claude noted that he personally designed and hand-picked pieces for the place, as he wanted a house that would represent his love for arts and traditional-inspired structures.
“I built this house from scratch and scrap,” he said.
As he continued, “As an artist, my dream house is a kamalig—with the silong or the ground floor as my display area for my paintings, sculptures, and furnishings.”
He retells that as he was continually building Bale Dutung, he and his wife constantly invited relatives and friends for lunch, whence he cooked and served his well-kept recipes.
“Knowing the Kapampangans, we were really fond of entertaining our friends and relatives in our home. One time, in the year 2000, we invited a friend of ours, the late Doreen Fernandez, together with her acquaintances. At the end of the meal, she offered to pay. I said “Why?” and she said she wanted to bring other groups for lunch. That’s where we got the idea, and eventually decided to open the place to the public,” Chef Claude explains.
Today, Bale Dutung is available for pre-arranged and pre-reservation lunches, as well as private tours.
Chef Claude concluded that through Bale Dutung, he wants tourists to come to the Philippines to taste authentic Filipino cuisines, and for the young generation to know and appreciate Filipino food—cooked in both traditional and innovate way.
He added that that he envisions to promote Filipino food and contribute to strengthening the country’s tourism through the restaurant and his new show Chasing Flavors.
Broadcast journalist Ces Drilon, its executive producer, noted that the show aims to uplift the culinary and heritage distinction of the country.
“The show is a fascinating look into the origin and evolution of our most well-loved dishes. For instance, it explores the possibility that our humble adobong pusit may have influenced the iconic paella en su tinta of Spain. It is also a joy to work with Claude Tayag and make culinary discoveries with him,” she said.
Embark on a culinary expedition on Lifestyle TV and find out the best eats in the country with “Chasing Flavors,” airing Saturdays at 9 p.m., Sundays at 12:30 p.m., Mondays at 2 a.m., Tuesdays at 7 p.m., and Wednesdays at 11 a.m. Lifestyle is available on SKYcable channel 52.
Published in the SunStar Pampanga newspaper on May 24, 2017.
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