Filipino cuisine featured at Le Tavole Accademiche 2017

This October, Le Tavole Accademiche (Academic Tables) of the Università degli Studi di Scienze Gastronomiche (UNISG) in Pollenzo, Italy opens its kitchen to the culinary expertise of Chef Jam Melchor, as he prepares to serve savory Filipino dishes that will open up their palates to our local flavors and feed their knowledge about Filipino food culture.

UNISG, founded in 2004 by Slow Food International in cooperation with the Italian regions of Piedomont and Emilia-Romagna, has focused on the study of gastronomy. Le Tavole Accademiche embraces this focus through food that combines education, haut cuisine and local produce.

Every year, 25 international top chefs are invited to prepare creative recipes that reflect the school’s principles of good, clean and fair food using local, seasonal ingredients. For the first time, a Filipino chef will present the local cuisine and gastronomy as Chef Jam Melchor visits UNISG this third week of October, 2017.

“I want this trip to be a platform for Filipino food to be recognized, especially in that university where they value gastronomy,” Chef Jam shares. “My goal is to inspire more Filipinos, the youth especially, to discover more about our cuisine like where it comes from and what is it all about.”

During his visit, Chef Jam will be serving classic and regional dishes that will hopefully fire up more conversations about Filipino food as UNISG students and alumni feast on Filipino fare. Although he hails from Pampanga, his menu will feature different provinces through his Sinigang na Bayabas, Adobong Batangan, Binulo na Tinawon and Sinuglao.

While the Sinigang na Bayabas, soured with the local guava, highlights his Kapampangan roots and is a personal favorite, Chef Jam acknowledges that sinigang, just like a number of Filipino dishes, has different interpretations. He travels to Batangas for his Adobong Batangan, pork belly braised in vinegar, garlic, and annatto. “Batangan is the old name for Batangas, where the dish originated.”

Binulo na Tinawon pays homage to the traditional way Filipinos cook rice using bamboo. This version will highlight the heirloom rice tinawon, grown in the Banaue Rice Terraces.“I want people to know more about our interesting food culture, its diversity and abundance,” Chef Jam adds.

Chef Jam crafts his menu around local ingredients such as pili from Albay, adlai from Bukidnon and mango from Guimaras and Zambales. In fact, pili will be an integral component of his dessert plates, that features Mango Pili Sansrival and Pili-Crusted Turon.

He will also be bringing several Filipino Ark of Taste ingredients, which he will have the chance to present to UNISG and use in his menu.
UNISG hones the minds of future gastronomists about the global food culture through academic discussions and practical experiences that allow them to discover and taste more of what lies beyond their shores. Through the endeavors of chefs like Jam Melchor, we can be assured that conversations and dialogues about Filipino food and Philippine ingredients will continue with the next generation of gastronomes.

Chef Jam Melchor always dreamed of becoming a chef. He grew up in Pampanga, the Philippines’ culinary capital that boasts of prominent people engaged in food industry. He opened his first restaurant Villa Café in 2011, serving modernized Kapampangan heirloom recipes. This was followed by Bite Contemporary Cuisine in 2012, which was hailed as one of Manila’s best restaurants for 2013 by spot.ph, and known for its organic dishes and its advocacy for sustainability. In 2013, he established Healthy Eats Manila, now known as YesPlate® and considered as the only sustainable diet delivery service in the metro that aims to provide nutritious calorie counted meals and easy weight management solutions to professionals that includes top celebrities.

From 2014 to 2015, he was commissioned by the the Philippine government under the Department of Agriculture to be the Chef Ambassador representing the Philippines for the ASEAN Roadshow 2014 Linamnam!: Flavours of the Philippines. It was held in different ASEAN Countries to promote local products for export, with a food festival showcasing Filipino classic dishes.

This paved the way for him to convene the Philippine Culinary Heritage Movement, an SEC-registered, non-profit movement dedicated to the promotion and preservation of the Philippine culinary heritage and gastronomy.

An active member of Slow Food International, Chef Jam participated as a delegate and Philippine representative for the Terra Madre 2016 last September in Italy, cooking and presenting Filipino dishes and Philippine Ark of taste ingredients to the world.

Chef Jam Melchor, together with the Philippine Culinary Heritage Movement, spearheaded the call for the creation of a Buwan ng Kulinaryang Pilipino, calling out concerned government agencies like National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) and the Department of Agriculture to petition and request the President of the Republic of the Philippines for the declaration or issuance of an Executive Order / Presidential Order that Filipino Cuisine will be celebrated annually through the Buwan ng Kulinaryang Pilipino. This month-long celebration for the preservation of Filipino cuisine, will pay tribute to the rich culinary heritage of the country, and encourage and support the study and in-depth research about Philippine gastronomy.

The University of Gastronomic Sciences, founded in 2004 by the international non-profit association Slow Food, in cooperation with the Italian regions of Piedmont and Emilia- Romagna, is a private non-profit institution. Its goal is to create an international research and education center for those working on renewing farming methods, protecting biodiversity, and building an organic relationship between gastronomy and agricultural science.

The result is a new professional figure—the gastronome—skilled in the production, distribution, promotion, and communication of high-quality foods. Gastronomes are the next generation of educators and innovators, editors and multimedia broadcasters, marketers of fine products, and managers of consortia, businesses, and tourism companies. UNISG students, hailing from around the world, gain dynamic experiences in artisanal and industrial food production, thanks to complementary education in both sciences and humanities, sensory training, and hands-on learning during study trips across five continents.

The Academic Tables is more than just the dining hall at the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Pollenzo. It is a space that combines education, haut cuisine, and local products at a fair price. The preparation of each dish takes into account seasonality of locally sourced products, the furnishings and cutlery are eco-sustainable, the kitchen features energy efficient equipment, and finally, meals are ordered in advance through a booking system which reduces food waste at the source.

In addition to the team of five UNISG chefs at the Academic Tables, each year 25 guest chefs are invited from around the world to visit UNISG and prepare creative recipes for our students which respect the principles of good, clean, and fair by using local, seasonal ingredients while keeping the meal at an affordable price.

Chef Jam Melchor will the be first Filipino chef invited to present and cook the local cuisine and gastronomy this third week of October, 2017. He was invited when he met the organizers at Terra Madre 2016, and expressed their desire to feature Filipino cuisine and to learn more about it.

Chef Jam will be assisted by Johan Movido, a culinary graduate from CCA Manila. The road to Le Tavole Accademiche was made possible with help from the following sponsors: Department of Agriculture – Philippines, the Province of Pampanga and Albay, the city of Angeles, Carl Schmidt Sohn PH, Mama Sita’s Mixes and Sauces, Le Jardin Café, Top Chef Enterprise, Destileria Limtuaco, Philippine Culinary Heritage Movement, and Slow Food Youth Network Philippines.

For parties interested to support this endeavor, you may get in touch with Chef Jam through his email at chefjamme@gmail.com or mobile 09178309516.


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