Beyond Lechon: Savor Cebu's Unique Flavors at This Food Festival

Cebuano cuisine, a treasure trove of the rich culinary heritage of Cebu, is a feast for all kinds of gastronomes. From Cebu City’s tuslob buwa (a combination of pig’s brain, liver, and pork broth) and puso (hanging rice) to the Filipino favorite lechon, the island province’s gastronomy caters to a wide spectrum of flavors and tastes. This June, Taste Cebu is shining the spotlight on these unique and delectable dishes, with a month-long food and wine festival celebrating the best of Cebu’s produce.

Taste Cebu: The Food and Wine Festival is set to feature more than 60 events, highlighting over 40 restaurants, 20 hotels, 27 national chefs, and 10 mixologists spread across Metro Cebu and Mactan Island. More than 3,000 food enthusiasts and wine aficionados have gone off to a scrumptious start during the grand opening weekend last June 1 to 2 at NUSTAR Resort and Casino.

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The three distinct tastes of Cebu

Leading the multi-sensory food adventure are three distinct tasting areas, each showcasing a different side of Cebuano cuisine: the Wave Zone, the Peak Zone, and the Warmth Zone.

The Wave Zone, where the journey starts off, captures the essence of coastal living, presenting dishes like Cordova's bakasi bonbons (saltwater eel and potato cakes). Its seaside-inspired decor will entice diners to savor the freshest and finest Cebuano seafood.

You'll find meat lovers feasting on lechon in this next stop, which makes guests feel the comforting embrace of Cebu's mountains. The Peak Zone boasts a vast selection of hearty and exotic dishes, including the tuslob buwa and chicken proven arancini (pandan rice stuffed with pig's brain, served with crispy chicken proventriculus).

Finally, the Warmth Zone is the best conclusion to this palatable journey. Mimicking the Cebuanos' vibrant nightlife, the area features dishes like Borbon's tuba-marinated saang sisig tacos (coconut wine-marinated conch shell sisig in corn tortillas with local chilies and red onions), alongside an array of desserts and alcoholic drinks.

All in all, 15 tasting stations serving Cebu classics with a twist were spread across the three zones. Among the experts behind these delicious offerings are renowned resident chefs of NUSTAR Resort and Casino, namely executive chef Martin Rebolledo, Jr. and executive pastry chef Rolando Macatangay. Other featured cooks include Chef Sau del Rosario, known as the "Godfather of Philippine Cuisine" for his mastery of Kapampangan dishes; Chef David Thien, a luminary in the culinary world popular for his French-Asian fusion cuisine; and Chef Lisa Revilla-Thein, formerly at the helm of The Dempsey Cookhouse and Bar in Singapore by Michelin-starred chef Jean-Gorges.

Gastronomy driving tourism

Discovering Cebu’s diverse landscapes and traditions through gastronomy is more than just a culinary and cultural experience. It’s key to attracting more tourists not only from around the Philippines, but all over the world, ultimately driving economic growth. This is especially important now that more travelers enjoy trying out food when exploring countries. Tourism Secretary Christina Frasco highlighted this point when she graced the opening of what was deemed to be Cebu’s grandest gastronomic celebration.

"We all know as Filipinos how delicious Filipino food is. Couple that with the creativity of our chefs, the freshness of our produce, and the ingenuity with which the dishes have been prepared, then you have a perfect formula for inviting tourists from all over the Philippines [and] the world," said Frasco.

"More importantly, we recognize that gastronomy tourism not only supports our chefs, but also our farmers, our fishermen, [and] our local communities, and creates added livelihood and employment opportunities for our fellow Filipinos."

This year's Cebu Food and Wine Festival is helmed by its founder Kate Dychango-Anzani, alongside NUSTAR Resort and Casino's AVP for Business Development Katrina Mae De Jesus and COO Alan Teo, and Cebu City Acting Mayor Raymond Alvin Garcia.

  • https://www.msn.com/en-ph/lifestyle/travel/beyond-lechon-savor-cebu-s-unique-flavors-at-this-food-festival/ar-BB1nOjxb?ocid=00000000

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