IN July 2015, Unilever Food Solutions (UFS) Philippines launched the Lady’s Choice Real Chef Challenge, a first-of-its-kind culinary competition that challenged chefs and cooks from all over the country to test their culinary skills and come up with creative and delicious dishes using Lady’s Choice Real Mayonnaise. The competition was divided into two categories: Salad & Sandwich Combo, and Hot Signature Dish.
For the next three months, UFS received an overwhelming number of recipe entries for both categories, from which the panel of judges—celebrity chef Pablo ‘Boy’ Logro, Chef Edward Bugia of Pino Kitchen Studio and Backyard MNL, and UFS senior sous chef Brando Santos—chose the Top 25 entries, 12 for the Salad & Sandwich Combo category and 13 for the Hot Signature Dish category.
These Top 25 finalists squared it off in a grand cook-off held at the Glorietta Activity Center in Makati City recently. The finalists plated one portion for presentation, and had not just the judges taste their entries but the entire audience, as well, who all cast in their votes, judging based on taste and concept, presentation, and how the use of Lady’s Choice Real Mayonnaise elevated the texture and taste of the dishes.
“The Top 25 mayo innovations that have made it to the finals prove that with the use of Lady’s Choice Real Mayonnaise, there are just so many recipes you can create and the possibilities to food innovations become endless,” explains Chef Joanne Limoanco-Gendrano, executive chef of Unilever Food Solutions.
After having the scores tabulated, the first ever Real Chef winners were finally announced. And the winners were Chef Demerlito Tulaylay of Best Western Hotel La Corona Manila for his Bulgogi Steak Sandwich and Kim Caesar Salad in the Salad & Sandwich Combo category, and Chef Bong Ronquillo of Hotel La Corona De Lipa (Lipa City, Batangas) for his Roasted Pork Belly with Spicy Laing Filling in the Hot Signature Dish category.
Both chefs won Php100,000 and a media feature of their respective establishments.
All grand finalists got to bring home Php10,000 each.
Jose Nestor Guevara II of Lola Ebeng’s Kulinarya Sabaw at Prito and Robert Puda Jr. of Café Arquiza were recognized as the People’s Choice awardees in the Salad & Sandwich Combo and the Hot Signature Dish categories for their Tonkapay Hawaiian Fried Clubhouse Sandwich and Prawns in Mayo Alavar Sauce, respectively.
Chefs Bryan Gorgona of Crown Regency Boracay with his entry Kufta Chicken Sandwich and Aloysius Mark Abad of Baring Coffee Shop with his entry Tapa BLT on Mayonnaise Ciabatta Bread were hailed as the Social Media Favorites for the Salad & Sandwich Combo category. Chef Camille Dugeno of Purichay’s Chicken Inasal with her entry The Juicy Lucy’s Makeover was the Hot Signature Dish category’s Social Media Favorite.
“At Unilever Food Solutions, the maker of Lady’s Choice, Knorr and Lipton, we believe and support the one true mission of every Filipino chef and cook—to delight their customers with exquisite dishes. As such, we strive to help them develop their craft through the products and services we carry so they can continue to deliver a remarkable dining experience for their customers. This competition is one of those milestones we’d like to share with them to showcase their amazing talents and creativity,” says Colin Butler, managing director of UFS Philippines.