Filipino Chefs Cook Their Way To Korea

Written by on July 8, 2014 in Korea Abroad, Worldwide Korea Bloggers

The Philippine leg of the culinary contest Global Taste Of Korea was held last June 27 at the Culinary Institute of Lyceum of the Philippines University in the historical walled city of Intramuros in old Manila. It was a day long contest that made the audience drool from all the delicious looking dishes. A total of 28 professional & amateur chefs battled it out in the kitchen ala ‘Masterchef’ as they showed off their own versions of various Korean dishes, from traditional to contemporary style.

The grand winner of the competition gets to go on a free trip to Korea to compete at the September 2014 Global Taste Of Korea contest in Seoul against contestants from 13 other countries.

Professional and amateur chefs take on Hansik

Professional and amateur chefs take on Hansik

Dishes of some of the finalists

Dishes of some of the finalists

“The contest aims to promote Korean cuisine and its global appeal.” Minister and Consul General Min Kyong-Ho of the Republic of Korea Embassy in Manila mentioned in his congratulatory speech. “Over the years Korea has become one of the closest partners of the Philippines. This partnership is not limited to economic fields but also covers people to people and cultural exchanges. To the participants, this event will give you a better understanding of Korean food and culture. I sincerely hope that the Philippines representative will win the first prize at the global competition.”

One of the judges, Chef Dan Basilio also believes that the project has opened the doors to promoting, understanding and appreciating Korean culture, particularly on the culinary front. “This has set a high standard for future Korean culinary competitions in the Philippines. ”

The event was organized by the Korean Cultural Center in celebration of their third anniversary since it was established in the Philippines. The judges included Korean Cultural Center’s Director Oh Choong Suk, Ms. Kim Hee Kyung – President of the Korean Women’s Association in the Philippines, Ms. Lily Min – Korean cuisine specialist and author of “Easy Korean Food 114”, Ms. Joe Mi Hyung – Korean cooking class instructor at the KCC and Chef Dan Basillo – Director of Lyceum of the Philippines University’s Culinary Institute.

I was truly envious of their position because they were able to taste all the traditional and fusion style dishes that the finalists prepared.

L-R: Minister Min Kyong-Ho, 2nd runner-up John Ignacio, (judge) Director Oh Choong Suk, Grand prize winner Mark Tee, (judge) Kim Hee-Kyung, 1st runner-up Kristina Montealegre, (judge) Joe Mi-hyung and (judge) Chef Dan Basilio

L-R: Minister Min Kyong-Ho, 2nd runner-up John Ignacio, (judge) Director Oh Choong Suk, Grand prize winner Mark Tee, (judge) Kim Hee-Kyung, 1st runner-up Kristina Montealegre, (judge) Joe Mi-hyung and (judge) Chef Dan Basilio

Finally after much anticipation, 3 winners were announced. Mark Justin K. Tee wowed the judges with his take on Samgyetang that made him the ultimate champion.

“I wanted to make something that is not so popular outside Korea. Samgyetang is one of my favorite dishes because not only is it delicious, it is also healthy because of the ginseng used in the dish. I just thought of a way to make it more global.” Mr. Tee explained when he presented his winning dish.  If you’re not that familiar with Samgyetang yet then I recommend you read the informative article  Bok days and Samgyetang (Korean chicken soup) here on The Korea Blog as well.

The 1st runner-up, Kristina Yzabel Montealegre joined the contest because of her passion for both food and Korea. I was amazed when I saw her prepare two dishes under the pressure-filled 1-hour limit when some of the contestants where struggling to execute just one recipe in time.

1st runner-up Kristina Yzabel Montealegre's Sinjjigae, a fusion of Filipino food Sinigang and Korea's Kimchi jigae and Bibimbap with mango in the sauce

1st runner-up Kristina Yzabel Montealegre’s Sinjjigae, a fusion of Filipino food Sinigang and Korea’s Kimchi jigae and Bibimbap with mango in the sauce

“We were given the liberty to choose between cooking a traditional or fusion dish, and I decided to go with fusion. I wanted to make something that will highlight the distinct flavors of both Korean and Filipino food. Something that will be palatable to both nationalities. I wanted to make something familiar yet different at the same time. I presented two dishes to the judges, and I’m glad that they were pleased.” Ms. Montealegre said. She also pointed out that that she likes Korean food because of its bold flavor. “I think that Korean cuisine is very distinct because of the use of gochujang (red pepper paste) and doenjang (soy bean paste) in a lot of their dishes. It turns a simple dish into something complex but very delicious.”

On the other hand, the 2nd runner up, John Ignacio created the classic Korean dish Galbi Jjim .

Dishes of finalists

Dishes of finalists

The large number of contestants and the huge volume of guests clearly underscored the enormous interest in the Philippines for Korean food. Filipinos simply love Hansik! Further proof is the growing number of Korean restaurants sprouting around every corner in Manila.

I confess that I’m guilty of always patronizing Korean restaurants, I just can’t get enough of samgyupsal, japchae, pajeon, bibimbap, kimbap, kimchi, banchan, etc. I can name a whole lot more but I am already salivating at the thought of all these Korean food! I believe that Hansik is a part of the Korean wave. Popularity of Korean cuisine is undoubtedly one of the major reasons for the strong communal friendship between the Philippines and Korea.

Oh how I wish I can witness and cover the Global Taste Of Korea event in Korea! I bet it would be a feast for the eyes and a party in your (or well the judges) tummy.


For more videos and photos of the dishes and the chefs in action you may check out my blog:


Check out other related articles here on The Korea Blog to read more about Korean food, although I advise you not to look into them if you are hungry or else you will crave for Korean food right this minute.

Korean foods for the summer season

10 Korean culinary curiosities you probably never heard of

Korean Food Never Ending Stories

10 musings about Korean food as eaten by non-Koreans

About the Author

Nadine Postigo

Nadine Postigo is a 20-something year old University of the Philippines student and marine casualty reporter by profession. However, her Korean-loving (a.k.a fangirl of all things related to Korea) & travel crazy mind overpowers that somewhat serious side of her most of the time. She is an aspiring and passionate photographer, videographer & writer.