World Street Food Congress 2017 opens; aims to show ‘limitless possibilities’ of Pinoy food

Chef Sau del Rosario, WSFC Team Captain; K.F. Seetoh of Makansuntra and WSFC founder; DOT Undersecretary Katherine De Castro; and Chiqui Tan, SM Supermalls SVP for Marketing formally opened WSFC 2017 by raising Filipino ‘sorbetes’ and other iconic Manila street food items on Thursday morning, May 31, 2017, at the SM Mall of Asia Concert Grounds in Pasay City. Photo by Bernard Testa, InterAksyon.

For the second year in a row, the World Street Food Congress (WSFC) is back in Manila to whet the public’s insatiable appetite for hawker food from different parts of the world.

Happening from May 31 (Wednesday) to June 4 Sunday) at SM Mall of Asia Concert Grounds in Pasay City, the WFSC is featuring over 28 food stalls from 13 different countries serving authentic heritage street food at the Jamboree.

Also ongoing simultaneously from May 31 to June 1 is the Food Dialogue, where respected names in the industry, including food and travel celebrity Anthony Bourdain, will be sharing innovative ideas with the participants of the congress. This year’s theme for the dialogue is “Re-Imagine Possibilities,” which will explore on topics like street and heritage culinary tourism.

Last year’s congress attracted about 73,000 participants, and this 2017, the organizers–K.F. Seetoh of Makansuntra and WSFC founder together with the Tourism Promotions Board of the Philippines–are delivering a bigger and better event.

“We’re all here today to listen, ideate, because we’re all here to reimagine the possibilities of heritage street food.. The possibilities are limitless,” Seetoh said during WSFC’s opening ceremony, which showcased some of Manila’s iconic street food including balut, taho, and sorbetes.

Chef Sau Del Rosario serves Sisig Paella to the delegates of World Street Food Congress Dialogue. Photo by Bernard Testa, InterAksyon.

Chef Sau del Rosario, WSFC Team Captain on the other hand shared, “I guarantee you, this will be four-day feast of beautiful food and culture.. Street food for us (Filipinos) is heritage. They are recipes passed on from generation to generation. The food itself is an extension of who we are, and there are so many glorious stories about these food.”

Sisig Paella by Chef Sau del Rosario is one of the dishes served to participants of the World Street Food Congress opening day, May 31, 2017. Photo by Bernard Testa, InterAksyon.

Recognizing WSFC as an event that further promotes Philippines as a culinary destination, Department of Tourism Undersecretary Katherine de Castro shared, “Indeed the country has come a long way on the path of achieving prominence in culinary tourism.”

“I’m well pleased to inform you that the Philippines is now rightfully considered as a gastronomic hub in Asia,” De mentioning that events like WSFC and the recently held Madrid Fusion Manila are drawing interests and attendees from all over the world.

Filipino breakfast fare ‘champorado’ (chocolate-flavored rice porridge), paired with ‘tuyo’ (salted dried fish), and ‘pandesal’ (Filipino bun) were served to the delegates of the WSFC Dialogue. Photo by Bernard Testa, InterAksyon.

At the Jamboree, everyone is encouraged to “eat food  that you can’t even pronounce.”

What to see and taste at WSFC 2017
Filipino fare from six different provinces of the country as curated by Seetoh are featured at the Jamboree including Iloilo’s batchoy and President Rodrigo Duterte’s favorite monggo by a karinderia in Davao. Popular establishments like Pepita’s Kitchen and Bale Dutung are participating.

Some of the must-tries from international hawkers include sweet black vinegar with pork trotter stew from China; Nasi Lemak from Singapore; Bành bèo Bìch Lìen from Vietnam; and Claypot Apom Manis from Malaysia.

Other featured hawkers include Chey Sua Carrot Cake of Singapore; MA Deen Biasa of Singapore; Keng Eng Kee Seafood of Singapore; Alhambra Padang Satay Stall of Singapore; Hong Kong Street Chun Kee of Singapore; Bratworks of Singapore; Pak Sadi Soto Ambengan of Indonesia; Taliwang Bersaudara of Indonesia; Kupat Tauhu Gempol of Indonesia; Gudeg Yu Nap of Indonesia;  East Side King of Austin, Texas; BánhCăn 38 of Vietnam; Tuck Nyonya Catering of Malaysia; Penang Apom Manis of Malaysia; Hoy Tord Chao Lay of Thailand; D K Litti Corner of India; and more.

Waiting for Bourdain
Besides the street food feast, people are also on the look out for celebrity chef and TV food show host Anthony Bourdain who will be in Manila for one day only. Bourdain, according to organizers, will be visiting most of the stalls—especially those from the Philippines—to explore in particular, the possibility of inviting some stores to his New York-based street food market set to open in 2018.

Activist and social entrepreneur Arbind Singh speaks at the World Street Food Congress, May 31, 2017. Photo by Bernard Testa, Interaksyon.

But apart from Bourdain, speakers at the Dialogue include Seetoh; Chef Andy Yang of Rhong Tiam; Anton Diaz of Our Awesome Planet; Arbind Singh, founder of Nidan; Chef  Claude Tayag of Bale Dutung; Chef David Yip, food consultant; Greg Drescher, vice-president of strategic initiatives and industry leadership at The Culinary Institute of America ; Chef Malcolm Lee of  Peranakan; Chef Mai Pham of Lemon Grass; Chef Michelle Adrillana of Flavours on Fire; Professor Nguyen Nha of Vietnam Cuisine for the World Project; Odilia Wineke, food editor at; Chef Peter Lloyd of  Sticky Mango; Richard Tan, Business Development Director by NTUC Foodfare; Ruth Alegria, founder of  Princeton Cooking School; Chef Sau Del Rosario of Café Fleur; Chef Shen Tan of Revolution Coffee; Chef Ulf Tassilo Muench, founder of Tashiro, Dim Sum.

Complimenting the endless food tasting at the Jamboree are cooking demonstrations of food masters showcasing traditional street dishes.

Live bands are also set to entertain the participants of the congress.