Some freshly made kinilaw served on fried fish skins. Roughly 700+ of them were served up over 90 minutes or so during the regional lunch on the second day of Madrid Fusion 2015. We were situated in the area where Via Mare put out a spread with over 20 different dishes for some 300-400 of the participants in the Congress. This wasn’t the fancy area with the most innovative dishes being served to VIP’s, think of this more as the “yaya lunch” area. I jest, I jest. Think of it more as First Class and Economy Class on an aircraft. That’s okay, we were just helping out our good friends at the Dept. of Tourism in Region 7 (Cebu, Bohol, Negros Oriental and Siquijor) who initially requested we send lechons for a 1,000(!) people and we declined as we didn’t want to serve them cold and in less than the ideal state. Ours has always been simple food done with heart and perhaps just a little twist for the sake of the snazzy event. And this was gratis, by the way, despite the (PHP20,000+ what?) price of the full ticket for the convention.
This was all very rush-rush and last minute and the DOT Region VII Director arranged to pay for airfare for 3 of our people, and we paid for the rest. We had a small table from which we were supposed to display some small bites of a particular dish from that region. We used some greens, planks of acacia and wooden bowls as the base for the table. A trip to the market early yesterday morning yielded some spectacular local cherry tomatoes, while the day before, Gejo of Malipayon farms delivered the most amazing baby labanos and other radishes and microgreens for my use and for the display table. Thanks Gej, I know you were crazed with all the other restaurant orders but you still managed to send me stuff.
This is what we managed to cobble together on short notice. That’s Joan, our GM, smiling and calm before the storm of 300+ people streaming into the buffet area all at once. To the left are still sealed kilo bags of our chicharon which we bought as a back up in case something went seriously wrong with our dish. We brought 10+ kilos of chicharon… funny how people can’t resist picking up fried pork rinds despite a massive buffet in front of them!
We originally planned to place the fish skins directly on the acacia plank, but that got messy so we decided to use the little wooden trays instead. This particular kinilaw had fresh tanguigue, as well as onions, radishes, tomatoes, cucumbers, green mango, chilies, etc.
Before the deluge, several local chefs happened by, and I post this photo with Ms. Norma Chikiamco as she said a friend of hers from London was a marketmanila reader, so if you’re out there, this is proof we met and said hellos. :) Gejo’s baby labanos and radishes and microgreens got as much commentary as the dried fish skins we served. It’s amazing how many restaurant purchasers inquired about sources and this just cements my view that restaurants don’t really serve what’s freshest or most seasonal in markets, and they need to get out more. Gejo, I sent a good dozen folks your way and to Nico’s Down to Earth stall as well… and admonished them to pay small suppliers in cash or on time and to support over time, not just one-off needs. Can you hear me preaching? :)
Once the guests hit the buffet, it was crazed. We wanted to dish the fish skins just seconds before folks ate them, so they would be incredibly crisp, so it meant last second assembly 700+ times over. It was fun, and very gratifying to hear folks positive reactions to the offering.
We snickered at how amateur our approach was… but that’s what makes it charming. Many of the other dishes had been cooked or assembled hours before, and well, they suffer a bit that way, I think. But that seems to be the only practical way to feed 400 at the same time.
Some folks had 6 or 7 servings! Others just outright grabbed our serving platters and took them to their tables. Mrs. MM doggedly re-claimed the platters or we wouldn’t have anything to serve things on! Mrs. MM also took all these photos.
As always, there is NO WAY WE COULD HAVE PULLED THIS OFF without a terrific crew slaving away in the prep kitchens in the bowels of the venue. One of our head chefs, our trusty head of branches, our kinilaw specialist, Chief of stuff, GM and our crew at home for earlier prep work. We were up at 530am, bought the freshest ingredients that we had home by 730am, prepped everything and served it for lunch. Even Mrs. MM was pressed into service… :)
In a slight break in the crowds.
A photo of the menu that Via Mare catered for the Luzon and Visayas regional lunches on Friday and Saturday at the Madrid Fusion 2015. By the time participants were through with the conference, I bet they had a dozen different kinilaws, adobos, etc.!