Philippine Ambassador to the UAE Hjayceelin M. Quintana meets one of the Philippine F&B industry players at the First Filipino Food Industry Conference held recently in Abu Dhabi.
Mariecar Jara-Puyod, Staff Reporter
ABU DHABI: Filipino food industry players are coming together to meet the global standards and to play a more active role in the racially diverse community of the UAE.
Eight internationally-accepted restaurants and fast food chains which continually branch out across the country, 15 established UAE-grown food outlets, majority of which are casual dining, and six industry partners providing logistics and support, recently met in Abu Dhabi for the “First Filipino Food Industry Conference (“Filfood 2019”).
On Sunday, Philippine Ambassador Hjayceelin M. Quintana told Gulf Today that while Filipinos are the third largest expatriate community in the UAE, Philippine gastronomy has yet to be known and appreciated.
“Diversity is tolerance. Many still do not know what Filipino cuisine is all about. It is normally us (who go for and welcome our own).”
The Filipino population across the seven emirates is at 679,819 from 618,726 in 2016.
At the conference, she said: “Food is a cultural experience. Our food does not only have to appeal to the palate but first and foremost to the eyes, while being consistent in taste and level of expectation.”
“In the Year of Tolerance celebrated in the whole country, the leaders of the UAE have expressed their encouragement for the Filipino community in the country to actively showcase what make us vibrant—our talent, our food, our culture. Our time is now.”
On Sunday, Quintana said the conference participants welcomed the idea of having one Filipino brand as one measure to push further their presence among the 200 nationalities in the UAE.
“It is the (restaurateurs and other industry players) who are deciding on this initiative. It is not us dictating,” she said.
For a start, a core group of Filipino chefs employed in luxury hotels had been tapped by the participants themselves to make assessments on their respective establishments, in accordance with internationally-accepted standards.
Filfood 2019 executive director Jose Ma. Jerome Tuano said: “We have to accelerate our innovation of food and recipes as well as competitively promote the consumption of nutritious and value-added, hala-certified Filipino food menus.”