Senses and appetites were satisfied as the Mercato Centrale’s FOOD Backyard BBQ Cook-off wrapped up at the Mercato Centrale grounds recently. Competitors proved their magic on the grill, clad with their unique barbecue recipes.
The amateur competition had three delectable categories – pork, chicken and anything goes (anything cooked in the barbie aside from chicken and pork). The recipes were not ordinary; in fact, most of them had an international influence which made the grilling event more interesting. The recipes, ranging from Indian to Portuguese to our very own Filipino, were irresistibly delectable.
Competitors started grilling at 2:00 p.m.; with 8 kilos each of meat to prepare provided by Fresh Options Meatshop, there was enough meat for the public to sample. The heavenly BBQ smoke made mouths water and heightened the anticipation to have a taste of the grilled goodies. Hungry jurors and FOOD Magazine readers finally sampled each dish at 4:00 p.m. after Ms. Nana Ozaeta, Editor-in-Chief of FOOD Magazine began the ceremonial grill-lighting.
During the heat of the grilling, RJ Ledesma of Mercato Centrale said, “We were very honored to be the sponsors for the BBQ Cook-Off event! We are all swept up by the energy and passion that all the contestants had in whipping up their best barbeque dishes! We could see how all the attendees couldn’t wait a minute longer to sink their teeth into these gastronomic works of art.”
There was overflowing free beer and sodas for everyone provided by San Miguel Lifestyle Brews and Pepsi. The ingredients used by the competitors were sponsored by McCormick. Other sponsors include Del Monte Ketchup, and Cream All-Purpose flour.
Celebrities Venus Raj, Tuesday Vargas, Davide Cortina graced the delicious event and Umagang Kay Ganda host and sportscaster Andre Felix who endeared the crowd with his bubbly personality served as host.
Chef Him Uy de Baron (Chairman of Board of Judges; Nomama restaurant; Chairman and CEO of Chef Cuisine Consultancy), Chef James Antolin (Instituto Culinario), Chef Robby Goco (Charlie’s Grind and Grill), Chef Cuit Kaufman (Nolita, Borough) and Ms. Nana Ozaeta are the judges while Ms Bebeth Timbol (Marketing, CCPMG), Chef Sharwin Tee (Host, Curiosity Got the Chef) and Mr. Frank Reyes (Reyes BBQ) served as the guest judges.
While the judges deliberated, McCormick-sponsored Chef DJ Santos performed a cooking demo using McCormick’s Grill Mates Seasoning Mix and selected herbs and spices while Fresh Options held a hotdog eating contest.
After some deliberation, it was announced that the winners for the FOOD Magazine awards were Joao Branquinho (Porto Alegre stall owner at Legaspi market) for Piri-Piri Chicken recipe, Raphael Dela Cruz and Raymund Fabre (Cuisiniers food stall owner at Mercato Centrale) for Peppery Pork BBQ recipe and Rigette Osoteo (hobbyist) for Faux Koobideh recipe. They won a trophy, a P5,000 cash prize, an editorial feature in FOOD Magazine, a FOOD gift pack, and an Imarflex Smokeless Express Griller
Representatives from McCormick also picked out winners for McCormick’s Choice. The winners were Branquinho, Aasish Mirpuri (Maharajas Kababs stall owner at Legaspi market) for Ashman’s Pork Kabab recipe and Osoteo. They won a trophy and P5,000 worth of McCormick products.
Last but not the least, the Fresh Options People’s Choice Awards wherein people who sampled the dishes gave their chosen teams flags to seal their votes. The competitors who received the most flags were Andrea Levinge (hobbyist) for Java Cinnamon Chicken recipe, Mirpuri and Osoteo. They won P10,000 worth of meat from Fresh Options.
BBQ junkies were certainly looking forward to the next BBQ cook-off. Competitors whose recipes didn’t make it said that they’d love to join another cooking competition like this one.
“The FOOD Backyard BBQ Cook-off by FOOD magazine was so fun, it was like grilling barbecue with your friends in the backyard, except this one was more star-studded,” one competitor who said she will definitely join again next time, shared.
Ozaeta, who enjoyed sampling barbecue dishes from all over the world gladly shared, “Despite the heat, I felt that it was what a BBQ cook-off is really all about — great-tasting food, lots of smoke, cold beer and soft drinks galore, cool music and a fun, fun crowd! Thanks to Mercato, our sponsors and event organizers for pulling this off. It’s definitely a first for FOOD Magazine and I’m hoping we can do it again soon!”