The Best Fresh Lumpia and Piaya at SM-Phil Star Contest

Sugar is central to the evolution of the Negrense culture and because of its importance in the world market, Negrenses and Bacoleños have developed an opulent lifestyle.  Popularly known as the sugar capital of the country, Negros Province and its capital city Bacolod are, at the same time, famous for the finest delicacies in the Visayas region – fresh lumpia and piaya. 

When the My City My SM MY Cuisine mall-wide culinary roadshow stopped at SM City Bacolod, mall goers had the rare opportunity to witness how fresh lumpia and piaya were prepared and cooked, as well as the heirloom recipes of some of the prominent families who played important roles in the rich food tradition and industry of Bacolod and Negros Occidental. 

A joint project of SM and the Philippine Star with support from Homeworld, My City My SM My Cuisine celebrates the flavors of Philippine regional cuisine through a culinary contest featuring two signature recipes from fourteen cities where SM malls are located.

Held last October 26, Fresh Lumpia and Piaya, two signature dishes that showcase Negros and Bacolod’s rich culinary tradition, were selected as the basis for the competition and drew contestants from different walks of life. The judges were Metropolitan Museum of Manila Vice Chair Corazon Alvina, Trattoria Uma and Café Uma owner Chef Juan Miguel “Jomie” Gaston, former curator of the Museo Negrense de La Salle Ms. Irene “Yaying” Gaston and Asst. Mall Manager Julia Javellana.
Top prizes went to Mrs. Corazon Cayao, a food vendor, for her Fresh Lumpia entrée, and tricycle driver and baker Reneboy Deanon for the best Piaya dessert. They each received P5,000 worth of SM Gift Certificates and Gift Packs from Homeworld.

Other contestants for the Fresh Lumpia entrée were Mila Montero, Jeyrevie Omadle, Jose Kriss Retirado and Christian Gomez while Joan Allan, Joselito Pacilan, Elpedio Acdul and Jessie Palic were the contestants for Piaya dessert. 

Hosted by ABS-CBN The Morning Show TV Host Honey Grace Catalan, the event was attended by socio-civic groups namely Organic na Negros Organic Producers and Retailers Association, Katuwang Resource Center Inc., Negros Women for Tomorrow Foundation’s Project Dungganon, Negros Occidental Garden  Club and Bacolod Cultural Foundation. My City My SM My Cuisine also got overwhelming support from sponsors such as BongBong's Piaya and Barquillos Pasalubong Center, Bacolod 18th Street Palapala Seafood Grill and Restaurant, Greenwich, Hero Sausage, Sabor Ilonggo, Punta Bulata White Beach Resort & Spa, Sun Cellular, Fiesta Gas, West Negros University, GMA 13 Bacolod and Island Living Channel.

The guests were also taken in a culinary journey as the food heritage video was shown giving them the chance to take a peek at the three featured individuals’ kitchen and taste the food that are they closely guard as family secrets.

Mrs. Remedios Sugon is one of Bacolod’s successful caterers and a restaurant owner who would unselfishly spend an entire morning demonstrating her dish to students and aspiring cooks. She learned to cook her popular and heirloom recipe from her mother, using a bamboo tube as a cooking vessel for chicken, young coconut, and herbs. Her Chicken Binakol specialty is slow cooked in bamboo tubes with young coconut juice and tamarind leaves as its souring agent. The tube is buried on earth with live coals for several hours until the chicken is cooked, with the aroma and flavor of fresh bamboo tubes giving a rustic charm to the experience.

While she revealed that she doesn’t cook, Mrs. Josefa Dizon Ramos Alunan Puentevella is happy to share a recipe that has been with her family for 3 generations.  She truly treasures the memories of quality time shared with the family over breakfast with the traditional morning soup – Bas-oy.

Chef Juan Miguel "Jomi" Gaston is very active in the culinary industry of Bacolod and Negros Occidental and has organized Sabor Bisaya: A Culinary Competition and Food Expo to celebrate the rich culinary Visayan tradition and upgrade the standards of the food service industry in the Visayas Region. He is the owner of the popular Café Uma and Trattoria Uma restaurant and shares his familys’ heirloom recipe – Cocido. According to food writer Annie Nisce of Appetite Magazine, he is looked up to by the younger breed of Bacolod chefs as the man who started a kind of culinary revolution in Bacolod.

Themed Fiesta sa Nayon, the celebration also showcased some of Negros and Bacolod’s delectable menu – Bacolod Lechon, Chicken Inasal, Pork Dinuguan, Empanada, Royal Bibingka, Puto, Suman Latik, Mango Buko Mallow and Buko Juice. 

The feast and festivity was capped by one of the country’s top performing dance groups – the West Negros University’s Kaanyag Pilipinas Dance Company and Rondalla. Ka-anyag, which means beauty, played beautiful cultural music through its Rondalla coupled with graceful and lively Filipino dance performances.

My City, My SM, My Cuisine in Bacolod is the seventh stop of this traveling culinary event that first took place in April in Santa Rosa where participants competed for the best Puchero with Lauya and Puto Maya with Kilawing Puso ng Saging.  It then proceeded to Lucena in May, where contestants whipped up the best Hardinera and Bucayo recipes; and then to Cavite in June for the Tamales and Sapin-Sapin cookout.

Great music and great food highlighted the event at SM City Batangas where food lovers competed for the best Kaldereta and Coconut dessert recipes.  And last August, My City, My SM, My Cuisine made a stop at SM City Cagayan de Oro for the best Singulaw and Pineapple dessert recipes.

The event also went to Bulacan just in time for the Singkaban festivities in September where contestants competed there for the best Pancit Marilao and Pastillas dessert recipes.

More recently, Davaoñeos vied for the the best Tuna entrées and Durian desserts at SM City Davao while the best Laing and Pili desserts were chosen in SM City Naga.