The Hotel and Restaurant Association of the Philippines (HRAP) brings back Chefs on Parade (COP), the Philippines’ longest running culinary competition, on February 10, 11 and 12 at the SMX Convention Center. COP’s return has gotten the Filipino food industry celebrating. Restaurants and hotels are already choosing who among their chefs will be fielded. HRM colleges and culinary schools are signing up to join; their students busy with research and training for D-day. Foodies have hailed COP’s comeback as the answer to the community’s craving for a sumptuous gastronomic experience.
“Chefs on Parade is a prestigious event,” affirms Christopher Park, General Manager of the Manila Pavilion Hotel and Vice-Chair of the COP Competitions and Judging Committee. “It is recognized as the first national culinary competition in the Philippines and the only culinary event organized by the official association of the industry, the HRAP.”
Mother of all culinary events
The COP began in 1974 as a simple food display. Held for only a day at the Sea Breeze Hotel in Bacolod, it attracted a modest audience. But thanks to the efforts of organizers, most especially the chairpersons, COP grew in scope and support. “It is considered to be the mother of all culinary events in the country,” says HRAP Board Director JM Tanalgo who is also the head of the COP 2011 Ways and Means Committee.
Tanalgo further states that the COP is an HRAP creation. “The term ‘Chefs on Parade’ was made popular by HRAP and the association even owns the trademark and registration of COP.”
As the event became more popular, it attracted more participants and bigger crowds. From hotels, the COP was housed in big venues like the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC), World Trade Center and the Intramuros Clamshell Pavilion.
The competition was held yearly from 1979 to 1998. It was then held every two years from 2000 to 2004. It stopped after 2004 due to financial constraints and the country’s challenging economic situation.
Back by popular demand
That is, until the intercession of the current HRAP who noted that new developments called for the COP’s return.
Richard Masselin, COP 2011 Over-all Chairman, explains: “Food has taken center stage in the lifestyle of a large and growing consumer base. Restaurants and food concepts are flourishing like never before and finally, on the human resources front, the country has thousands of young individuals undertaking college degrees, courses in culinary and or Hotel and Restaurant Management. … With established and new talents eager to showcase, compete and certainly celebrate, the COP will be a great platform for all of us to share our passion amongst professionals and also with our Public.”
He sums up the decision to mount the COP again as a “moral consideration.” Masselin says, “It was a response to requests from the community and the supporters of the HRAP as the industry and partners were urging us to revive the COP.”
The greatest cooking show
However, the current group of organizers realized that if they were going to do so, the event cannot simply be a revival; the COP would have to be on a grander scale and at par with global standards. Masselin says, “We set one condition… make it the greatest culinary event in the country!”
To this end, the HRAP prioritized raising the necessary funds. “The financial aspect of the operation was rationalized early… We have decided to form several partnerships to meet our financial requirements. As of to-date, we are well on our target,” says Masselin. “COP requires a massive amount of work and organization as well as for the logistic. We have a dedicated team on board with a lot of things to do until February 2011 but we are moving forward.”
Based on the venue and the line-up of activities, alone, Chefs on Parade 2011 is set to be the biggest in its history. Halls 1, 2, 3 and 4 of the SMX Convention Center will be utilized for three full days. “So that is about 9,000 ++ square meters of culinary experience,” says Tanalgo.
More than food
Aside from the culinary contests, there will also be several free cooking demonstrations form known chefs, a book launch and several free workshops from industry experts. Two of the biggest highlights will be the presentation of the Larry J. Cruz Culinary Award to an individual who has made a great contribution to the food industry, and an ASEAN & Filipino Culinary Journey featuring historical cuisine and savory dishes from the Southeast Asian countries.
All these will be open to the public. The HRAP assures that the entrance fee and the tickets will be at popular prices.