The Ilonggo cuisine is well-loved and recognized by many Filipinos across the country, including food lovers from different parts of the world. Anyone who’s had a taste of the heart-warming La Paz Batchoy and Molo soup, the refreshing flavors of Laswa and Chicken Binakol, or a bite of a luscious Ibos and crunchy Biscocho are destined to be smitten and keep a craving wherever they go.
The Ilonggo cuisine is a beautiful confluence of geographic location – being nestled at the heart of the Philippine archipelago and having fertile lands and abundant seas; rich cultural heritage peppered with Spanish to Chinese influences, and most significantly the creativity and practicality of the people in concocting delicious recipes using homegrown ingredients.
Iloilo as a gastronomic hotspot
The local government’s recent declaration of Iloilo City and the province of Iloilo as “The Food Haven of the Philippines” is a fitting appellation celebrating its gastronomy and further promoting tourism. This move to be a recognized gastronomic hotspot is highly supported by the Department of Tourism including private sectors.
Supporting the city’s culinary talent
SM City Iloilo is among the avid supporters helping the local government in this endeavor by providing spaces and events like food festivals, gourmet markets, and more so that local food brands, chefs, and MSMEs can showcase the best of Iloilo cooking and demonstrate how the city’s food scene remains vibrant.
Topping the long list of events spearheaded by SM City Iloilo to honor the province’s awesome cuisine is the first-ever Iloilo Batchoy Festival. SM City Iloilo collaborated with the Department of Tourism (DOT) to put the city’s finest Batchoy houses and makers of famous Iloilo delicacies on center stage, accessible to all food lovers. The Batchoy Festival was part of the larger annual Dinagyang cultural celebration, making the season extra special.
A space for authentic experiences
The redevelopment of two of the city’s biggest markets – Iloilo Central Market and Iloilo Terminal Market – is another strategic way to strengthen the city’s position as a food haven. Even since, the markets have served as go-to destinations for anyone who wants to savor Ilonggo dishes and more. Transforming the markets is expected to contribute to giving local food businesses a better place to sell their delicacies and for foodies to enjoy their products in a beautiful, safe and clean environment. This kind of experience is one of the visions of the city government and SM Prime as they invested in modernizing the markets but retaining their authentic vibe so they can continue to be a place for everyone to sample Ilonggos’ culinary talent, hospitality, and way of life.
Continuing the promotion of gastronomy in the city
When the Iloilo City Council declared itself as a gastronomic haven, it was truly exciting since it was presented during the 8th Tabu-an: the Ilonggo and Western Visayas Heritage Cooking Competition, an annual event that spotlights local culinary techniques and the use of ingredients endemic to Western Visayas.
Continuing its legacy and cause to cultivate the creative talent and culinary ingenuity, the Tabu-an Cooking Competition will happen again in SM City Iloilo on October 15, 2022. According to event organizer and Iloilo cuisine advocate Chef Tibong Jardeleza, this year’s cooking competition will feature more exciting ways to experience Ilonggo cuisine. This year’s cook fest will also include a bartending contest where local ingredients must be used for drink concoctions. Up-and-coming culinary schools and teams from Western Visayas will vie to earn the recognition of the event judges composed of celebrated chefs, food bloggers, and writers.
SM City Iloilo is inviting everyone to witness the event, partake in the exciting activities and help promote Iloilo as destination for unforgettable food experiences.