Food & Wine Best New Chefs 2021

The 33rd class of Best New Chefs will guide the industry toward a stronger, brighter, more equitable future for workers and diners alike.

By Khushbu Shah | September 09, 2021

I don’t know how restaurants work anymore. I’ve come to this conclusion after spending the spring traversing the country (fully vaccinated) and eating in as many cities as I possibly could (fewer than usual, due to the circumstances). Everything was different; even fine dining was to-go. Menus were accessed by QR codes, and it was weeks before I encountered a real plate. But it’s not just the experience of dining that’s different; what it means to be a chef has changed.

This is an industry that was built on a shaky foundation, and the global pandemic put a spotlight on every single crack. But through these cracks, real leadership emerged. Leadership that prioritizes the safety and needs of employees over the whims of customers. Leadership that centers local communities, providing groceries and hot meals for those in need. Leadership that still turns out exceptional cooking that manages to comfort and delight even when the odds are stacked against them.

This year’s class of Best New Chefs exemplifies this approach to leadership. There’s the chef in Austin who is running an ambitious in-house masa program while prioritizing the mental health of his team, and the pastry chef in Washington, D.C., who is baking whimsical desserts that center the flavors of her Dominican heritage while launching bake sales that help combat racism. There’s the scrappy chef in Portland, Oregon, who is making America fall in love with the robust and complex flavors of Filipino food and building a gathering space for his community, and the chef in Ann Arbor, Michigan, who merges Midwestern produce with centuries-old Korean recipes while also compensating her staff well above market standards and providing a slew of benefits.

From coast to coast, the 2021 class of Best New Chefs is reinventing what it means to lead in the kitchen while cooking the food that matters to them most. Restaurants may no longer look the same, but with this class of chefs at the helm, I am excited to see—and eat—what the future holds.

<iframe marginwidth="0" marginheight="0" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" height="0" width="0" id="mnet" src="https://c.aaxads.com/aacxs.php?flg=AAXV53D7Q&amp;fv=1&amp;fy=37&amp;ke=1&amp;suylg=263%2C206%2C272%2C178%2C55%2C141%2C241%2C267%2C203%2C108%2C2033%2C271%2C278%2C264%2C213%2C97%2C246%2C229%2C195%2C175%2C282%2C3018%2C3012%2C265%2C251%2C201%2C209%2C172%2C262%2C126&amp;yvVbqf=1&amp;uhiXuo=https%3A%2F%2Fapp.asana.com%2F&amp;gdpr=0&amp;gdprconsent=0&amp;gdprstring=&amp;usp_status=0&amp;usp_consent=1&amp;coppa=0" style="display: none;"></iframe>

Matt Horn

Horn Barbecue, Oakland, CA

Credit: Aubrie Pick

In the crackling flames of the fire he had just lit in his grandmother’s backyard, Matt Horn found his life’s calling. “The smoke is in your face, you’re hearing the wood cracking, you’re seeing the embers, you’re seeing the coals being formed,” he explains. “It was transformative for me. I zoned out. Nothing else around me mattered.” That was it—he was hooked, and there was no going back. Horn knew at that moment that he would spend the rest of his life pursuing the mastery of barbecue. Read more.

Paola Velez

Bakers Against Racism, Washington, D.C.

Credit: Alex Lau

Velez’s pastry creations—which include thick sticky buns rippled with pureed sweet plantain, hefty cookies she calls “thick’ems” packed with matcha powder and white chocolate chunks, and strawberry knafeh, bright pink with fruit and piled high with phyllo shards—are unapologetic in their size and flavor. They refuse to be background notes or secondary to a meal. They are not subtle. They are not fragile. They are celebratory expressions of technique and culture. They are like Velez. Read more.

Carlo Lamagna

Magna Kusina, Portland, OR

Credit: Aubrie Pick

Carlo Lamagna approaches Filipino food like a Grand Prix race car driver: He drives with extreme precision and finesse, but he isn’t afraid to press on the gas. The translucent broth that forms the base of his sinigang at Magna Kusina, Lamagna’s Portland, Oregon, restaurant, has the elegant gleam of consommé but is anything but subtle in flavor. It fully embraces its sour notes, with punches of tamarind knitted together by tomato, fish stock and fish sauce, onions, and garlic. And then there’s the electrifying, elemental funk that ripples through the bagoong alamang, a condiment of fermented shrimp paste spiked with garlic, fish sauce, and palm sugar. It’s a favorite childhood food of Lamagna’s, given a cheffy makeover in a dish called mangga at bagoong alamang: It arrives at the table in a small boat carved out of raw green mango and is covered with a shower of edible flower petals. Read more.

Thessa Diadem

All Day Baby, Los Angeles, CA

Credit: Aubrie Pick

They say that you eat with your eyes first, and it’s impossible to not have yours widen with hunger when they spot slices of chef Thessa Diadem’s velvety ube pie. It’s one of the newest additions to the pastry case at All Day Baby in Los Angeles, and it is a showstopper. The thick ube custard, a shade of purple so saturated and vivid that Prince would be jealous, sturdily sits up in an impossibly flaky crust. Each piece is topped with a cascade of chamomile-spiked whipped cream puffs that gather like clouds before a rainstorm. Yes, the ube pie is a nod to Diadem’s Filipina heritage (she immigrated to the United States at the age of 13), but it also represents her broader approach in the kitchen: using the most global flavors that she can source locally. Read more.

Fermín Núñez

Suerte, Austin, TX

Credit: Cedric Angeles

You can smell Suerte from a block away. East Sixth Street is one of Austin’s busiest and most energetic thoroughfares, but follow your nose—nostrils inflating to inhale the air thick with the unmistakable smell of toasted corn—and you will find yourself standing in front of chef Fermín Núñez’s altar to all things masa. It’s one of a growing number of restaurants in the country devoted to the art of nixtamalization, a process that prepares dried corn kernels to be ground into the fresh dough used to make tortillas and tostadas so redolent with flavor that they will make you ask if you’ve ever truly tasted corn before. Read more.

Angel Barreto

Anju, Washington, D.C.

Credit: Alex Lau

When Angel Barreto was first setting up the accounts with suppliers for Anju, the restaurant he helms in Washington, D.C., a salesperson didn’t believe that he was serious when he ordered 150 pounds of salted shrimp. Even though the store had the ingredient in stock, the salesperson said he didn’t think that Barreto actually “needed it.” It’s not the first time (nor will it be the last) that someone was surprised that Barreto, who is half Puerto Rican and half Black, with a grin that stretches ear to ear, runs one of D.C.’s most popular Korean restaurants. “There’s very few [chefs] who look like me that cook Asian food, especially Korean food,” he says, with more empathy than frustration in his voice. Read more.

Ji Hye Kim

Miss Kim, Ann Arbor, MI

Credit: Cedric Angeles

“A lot of people have known since the age of 3 that they want to be a chef,” says Ji Hye Kim, who owns Miss Kim in Ann Arbor, Michigan. “That’s not my story at all. I was 30 when I started thinking about it.” Kim grew up in Seoul, South Korea, on a steady stream of spectacular meals. Her mom was a talented and passionate cook, so in many ways Kim, now 43, took good food for granted. “It has always been there in my life.” But Kim’s mom would never let her help out in the kitchen, and at a certain point Kim stopped trying. Read more.

Blake Aguillard and Trey Smith

Saint-Germain, New Orleans, LA

Credit: Cedric Angeles

Chefs Blake Aguillard and Trey Smith are, to put it frankly, huge nerds. The chefs and co-owners of Saint-Germain in New Orleans openly geek out over ikejime, a Japanese fish-butchering technique (it’s considered more humane and helps keeps their menu prices down), or the results of a fermentation experiment (transforming scraps of venison into garum, a fish sauce–like condiment that takes three months to make). It’s hard to resist getting caught up in their earnest and infectious excitement. Read more.

Gaby Maeda

State Bird Provisions, San Francisco, CA

Credit: Aubrie Pick

“Every day when I go to work, I am just as excited as I was on day one,” declares Gaby Maeda. Maeda is the chef de cuisine at the San Francisco stalwart State Bird Provisions, where she and her team whip up a menu of bright and punchy California cuisine, heavy on the local produce and with strong Asian influences. She has worked in professional kitchens for over a decade and a half, and that is where she is happiest. “All I want to do is work hard with my team and grow with them every day.” Read more.

Lucas Sin

Nice Day, New York, NY

Credit: Alex Lau

Lucas Sin is on a mission to perfect General Tso’s chicken. His goal: to make a version of the sticky-sweet, deep-fried poultry dish for Nice Day, his modern American Chinese restaurant in New York, that retains its crispness when delivered, with a sauce that’s viscous but not gloopy, garlicky but not too hot. General Tso’s is one of the most popular items at American Chinese restaurants around the country, and yet, according to Sin’s research, there is no standard way to make it. He has combed through cookbooks, spent hours scouring the internet, tasted as many versions as he could track down, and spoken on the phone with Chinese chefs around the country, but no one can agree on what makes General Tso’s so distinctively delicious. Read more.

PHIDEX 2021 makes a splash in the international dive market

PADI Ambassadiver and PCSSD Commissioner Bo Mancao discusses the local dive industry’s environmental protection efforts in his talk entitled “Lockdown Blue: Environmental Efforts During the Pandemic”

MANILA – The challenges of the global COVID-19 pandemic could not stop diving enthusiasts and industry experts from coming together in the first-ever all-digital Philippine International Dive Expo (PHIDEX) organized by the Department of Tourism (DOT), from March 19 to 21 via virtual conferencing.

Over 2,000 diving enthusiasts from around the world attended this year’s iteration of the Philippines’ largest platform for the diving community, which was established in 2019. This year’s event, themed “Our Sea, Our Story,” brought everyone together to raise awareness and discuss solutions for the local diving industry’s recovery.

Sulubaai Environmental Foundation Founder and President Frederic Tardieu and project manager Laure Thierry de Ville D’avray talk about Marine Protected Area (MPA) management in Pangatalan Island, Palawan

“With the gradual activation of dive travel and tourism in various parts of the country, an event such as this is even more crucial for the recovery of the dive industry,” said DOT Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat in her opening speech on the first day of the expo.

“As the Philippines is widely recognized by scientists as the center of marine biodiversity, it is fitting that we lead the region in mounting an event that reflects our world-class diving.”

Various international leaders and experts in their respective fields spoke in 17 different panel discussions and talk sessions at the three-day expo, with around a hundred attendees watching each session. These include California Academy of Sciences Curator Dr. Terry Gosliner, French-British underwater photographer Henley Spiers, Emmy Award-winning husband-and-wife documentary team Howard and Michele Hall, Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) Ambassador and Philippine Commission on Sports Scuba Diving (PCSSD) Commissioner Bo Mancao, University of the Philippines marine economist and community scientist Tara Abrina, and German underwater photographer Tobias Friedrich, just to name a few.

PHIDEX’s main thrust is to advocate for the sustainability of the local diving industry and marine environments, with a number of key sessions on the topic.

One was the talk of Sulubaaï Environmental Foundation president Frederic Tardieu, in which he tackled the management of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) and restoration of ecosystems. Tardieu and project manager Laure Thierry de Ville D’avray went into great detail about their work in creating 150 hectares of MPAs around Pangatalan Island in Palawan and sharing these efforts and knowledge with the locals.

Roni Ben-Aharon from Atlantis Dive Resorts and Liveaboards shares sustainable tourism practices in the dive industry

Another was the session by Atlantis Dive Resorts and Liveaboards Sales Manager and Roni Ben-Aharon on sustainable tourism practices in the dive industry. Ben-Aharon zeroed in on three important factors of sustainability: the environment, the people affected, and the communities that operate in the area. She shared easy-to-do measures that locals can take to help protect marine environments, citing cases from different places in the Philippines.

Philippine Airlines and Guide to the Philippines offer discounted fares and dive holiday packages through their virtual booth
Turkish Airlines promotes their “Diving Equipment Fly for Free” program through their virtual exhibition booth

A third talk was that of Philippine Commission on Sports Scuba Diving (PCSSD) Commissioner and PADI Ambassadiver Bo Mancao, in which he discussed the environmental efforts of the local dive industry during the pandemic-induced shutdown and issues that arose because of it. Mancao shared stories of coastal clean-ups and preservation drives around Cebu, and also shed light on the resilience of the residents of Malapascua Island.

Expo-goers also had the opportunity to score exclusive PHIDEX deals on diving equipment, accessories, and travel experiences from the 64 exhibitors, dealers, and partners present in the event’s virtual exhibition. Over 2,000 business and networking leads were generated by the Dive Travel Exchange (TRAVEX) meetings.

Mares virtual exhibition booth features discounted dive equipment and gear on sale

“With health and safety protocols in place to ensure the safe reopening of our destinations, we are taking this opportunity to pivot towards sustainable solutions,” Puyat stressed.

For more information and updates on PHIDEX and the Philippine dive industry, like Dive Philippines on Facebook at facebook.com/DOTdivephilippines, follow @dotdivephilippines on Instagram, or visit www.phidex.asia.

Our Sea, Our Story: PHIDEX 2021 dives into digital

MANILA – In its thrust to help support and sustain the country’s diving industry, the Department of Tourism (DOT) is presenting this year’s Philippine International Dive Expo (PHIDEX) online via virtual conferencing from March 19 to 21, 2021.

PHIDEX is the Philippines’ largest platform for the diving community since 2019. The global COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in the event going digital for the time being, but the new format will allow the expo to reach even more members of the diving community.

As COVID-19 has hit the local diving industry and those who depend on it, this year’s PHIDEX, themed “Our Sea, Our Story,” aims to raise awareness and discuss solutions into accelerating the industry’s recovery.

“As the Philippines is known around the world for its diving destinations, it is truly important that we do everything we can to sustain the local diving industry. The latest recognition we received was from the 2020 World Travel Awards which named the Philippines as the World’s Leading Dive Destination. This year’s PHIDEX is a step in the right direction to sustain our gains toward recovery, for all to enjoy the natural wonders our archipelago can provide,” said Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat who will formally open the event.

This year’s PHIDEX will host discussions and talks by a number of prominent international personalities who are experts on the sea.

Some notable names confirmed for the event are California Academy of Sciences Curator Dr. Terry Gosliner, French-British underwater photographer Henley Spiers, Emmy Award-winning husband-and-wife documentary team Howard and Michele Hall, PADI Ambassador and PCSSD Commissioner Bo Mancao, University of the Philippines marine economist and community scientist Tara Abrina, and German underwater photographer Tobias Friedrich, to name a few. Each speaker will be going in depth on topics relevant to the diving industry and the protection of Philippine seas.

Expo participants will be able to view all these lectures and panel discussions on the event website, which will host three stages: the main stage, the expo stage, and the panel stage. The website will also serve as a space for divers and enthusiasts to purchase experiences and equipment from partners and exhibitors, as it will also have a virtual marketplace section called the Dive Travel Exchange, or TRAVEX.

Divers and enthusiasts can now register for PHIDEX 2021 for free at https://phidex.asia until March 21.

For more information and updates on the Philippine International Dive Expo, like PHIDEX on Facebook at facebook.com/DOTdivephilippines, follow @dotdivephilippines on Instagram, or visit www.phidex.asia.

Need help in finding Filipino food for Noche Buena? We got you covered!

Noche Buena is a Spanish word for “Good Night,” and it is the name for the traditional Christmas Eve feast. Being a Filipino tradition, Noche Buena is when families and friends gather around the food to celebrate Christmas. As the festive season is just right around the corner, you may be wondering where to buy food for Noche Buena in the Bay Area. 

Worry no more as next week, Philippine Consulate General San Francisco is holding its Virtual Paskuhan live on their Facebook page. The goal is to share Filipino dishes that are staples in every Filipino table during Noche Buena. Chef Yana Gilbuena of Salo Series will be sharing her “embutido” recipe, a spin to the traditional embutido, to cook for the holidays. 

The live event will also feature five restaurants as they introduce must-have dishes for the Christmas festivities. 

  1. Gerry’s Grill

A Filipino classic serving modern Filipino grill, Gerry’s Grill introduces classic Filipino dishes like their bestsellers Sizzling Sisig and Inihaw na Pusit. Gerry’s Grill is now open for takeout and delivery. Visit them at their Union City branch located at Courthouse Dr., or call +1 510-441-9900. 

Sizzling Sisig

This appetizer is one of the most popular dishes to both new and avid customers of Gerry’s grill alike. Gerry’s Grill Sizzling Sisig is an exotic food made with grilled pork face cooked in vinegar and chili peppers. So, if you miss the Philippines during Pasko, this dish is a must-have.

Inihaw na Pusit

Add spice to your Christmas by incorporating seafood into your holiday menu. Inihaw na Pusit, aka “Grilled Squid” is a tasty go-to. Also, the dish contains Gerry’s Grill’s signature sauce which is delicious and sumptuous.

  1. Hapag Pilipino

Hapag Pilipino has every staple Filipino Christmas dish you can think of, from Paella Valencia, Cebu Bellychon. Bangus Sisig and Yema Palitaw are all served family-style. You can locate this restaurant at 33 Saint Francis Square, Daly City. Call them at 650. 756. 2220 or 650.756.2203 or visit hapagpilipinousa.com 

Paella Valenciana

The Philippines was once a Spanish colony, so, influence in food is no stranger. Hence, Paella Valenciana is one of them. The ingredients to this hearty Filipino dish consist of glutinous rice, mussels, sausage, chicken and saffron, perfect for holidays and special occasions!

Cebu Bellychon

A lechon belly roll is one of the recent versions of lechon. The large piece of pork belly is rolled into a thick tube then roasted. Usually, the roll is stuffed with lemongrass and sometimes served with either liver sauce or spiced vinegar. Some prefer this because it is smaller, perfect for more intimate gatherings. 

Bangus Sisig

This sisig dish isn’t your ordinary sisig because instead of pork, Hapag Pilipino uses bangus (milkfish) instead. This dish is a delicious combination of almost toasted milkfish cooked with onion, ginger, chili, scallions and other seasonies that is made to perfection. Thus, if you want to be healthy, then you can eat this. 

Yema Palitaw

The next Filipino favorite dish is a twist to a favorite Pinoy delicacy. Hapag’s version of palitaw has a yema filling inside for an added kick of sweetness. This delicacy is delicious when served with fresh grated coconut and toasted crushed sesame seeds. Tasty and filling. 

  1. Grill City

If you are craving Crispy Cebuchon, then Grill City is your go-to. They serve you authentic lechon recipes that are true to the Filipino palette. Grab their holiday party packages that include Crispy Bagnet package, Crispy Pata package, and Barbeque package. You can grab these packages inside the Seafood City Supermarket. 

Lechon

No party is complete without Philippine’s most iconic dish present on almost every occasion from birthdays, fiestas, weddings to Christmas gatherings. 

Lechon derives its name from the Spanish word “lechona” which means “suckling pig.” The whole pig is spit-roasted slowly over charcoal for hours until the skin is crispy and its meat inside is rendered tender and juicy. 

The famous Cebu lechon is usually stuffed with star anise, pepper, spring onions, laurel leaves, and lemongrass; hence, no sauce needed.

  1. Tastebuds

Tastebuds is famous for their lechon as they offer different flavors for any occasion, including Christmas and New Year. The restaurant will be featuring three flavors — the traditional, Waray, and Cebu — in Virtual Paskuhan. You can pay a visit to the restaurant located at 582 San Bruno Avenue, W San Bruno, or call (650) 583-0899. For more details, visit tastebudscuisine.com. 

  1. Sarap Shop

Now, if you opt for food that is comforting this holiday season, The Sarap Shop is the one to call. Plus, learn their Buttery Instant Ramen Omelette recipe to serve a dish that can add a twist to your table this year. You can find their food truck at the Parklab Gardens and Chase Center, inside the United Club, Floor 3. You can browse their menu and order ahead or have it delivered. Just visit their site to do so.

Ramen Omelette

Ramen Omelette is a delicious mashup of ramen and omelet that’s perfect for Noche Buena! Do you know you can make this appetizing dish at home? Just take out your favorite cup of ramen and put butter inside the cup before you add water. Cook your egg mixture with cheese and add the noodles, then voila, you now have ramen omelette!

Want to see more Filipino dishes perfect for Noche Buena? Catch our Virtual Paskuhan event live on the Philippines Consulate General San Francisco’s Facebook page! The live event will also air on December 24, Sat. 7 PM Pacific Time at Philippine Consulate General in San Francisco’s Facebook page. 

DOT welcomes IATF decision to allow balikbayans

The Department of Tourism (DOT) welcomes the ratification of the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) Resolution No. 85 which includes the provision on allowing balikbayans’ entry to the Philippines.

Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said that allowing entry of balikbayans or former Filipino citizens into the country during the holidays is a great cause for celebration for millions of families who long for the homecoming of their relatives abroad.

“This not only bodes well for our ailing industry but is good tidings for our kababayans who have been clamoring to be reunited with their loved ones from abroad, especially this yuletide season,” Secretary Puyat enthused.

The said resolution, signed on November 26, provides that, ”Starting December 7, 2020, the following may be allowed entry privileges under Republic Act No. 6768 or the “Act Instituting the Balikbayan Program”:

a) Filipino citizens’ foreign spouses and children, regardless of age, who are travelling with them;
b) Former Filipino citizens, including their spouses and children, regardless of age, who are travelling with them.

The entry of these persons shall be subject to the following conditions:
a) they are allowed visa-free entry under Executive Order No. 408, s. 1960;
b) with pre-booked quarantine facility;
c) with pre-booked COVID-19 testing at a laboratory operating at the airport; and
d) subject to the maximum capacity of inbound passengers at the port and date of entry.

The IATF also directed the Bureau of Immigration (BI) to formulate the necessary guidelines to ensure smooth implementation while the DOT has been tasked to issue the necessary guidelines for the provision of sufficient accommodation taking into account the release of test results.

“Balikbayans are considered as a viable source market of the country for tourism, particularly extending to the second and third generation dependents who have yet to discover their parents’ roots. The Filipino diaspora to date, has reached about 10 million. That is why we deem important the Filipino communities abroad as staunch partners in driving visitors to the Philippines,” the tourism chief further added.

DOT receives SafeTravels Stamp from world tourism body

MEDIA RELEASE    

21 September 2020   

The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) has given the Department of Tourism (DOT) a SafeTravels Stamp in recognition of its adoption of “health and hygiene global standardized protocols” that will ensure safe travel during the COVID-19 pandemic.  

 SafeTravels is the stamp of approval given by the international organization to certify compliance with its global health standards to allow for safe travels.  

Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said the DOT shall continue to uphold sustainability and safety in its programs and projects geared toward the tourism industry’s recovery.  

“The Department has also intensified the accreditation of establishments, continuing thorough inspection and assessment, to ensure that only those accredited with the Department of Tourism, and issued with a Certificate of Authority to Operate, are allowed to open and receive guests.  These efforts made us confident to pursue our application to use WTTC’s Safe Stamp, compelling us to align with WTTC’s health, safety and hygiene global standardized protocols. This will further restore tourist confidence and serve as an assurance to our guests that it is safe to travel in the Philippines. The way forward to our recovery is marked by strengthened partnerships with the private sector, our stakeholders and with other national government agencies,” she said during the recent  WTTC Members Task Force Call. 

The WTTC is an international organization representing leaders of the global travel and tourism industry, which accounts for 10 percent of the global gross domestic product and employment. 

 As a user of the stamp, the DOT will have the opportunity to assume the role of a SafeTravels ambassador to the stakeholders, advocating the implementation and full compliance of protocols. 

 Eligible companies such as hotels, airlines, restaurants, tour operators, attractions, transportation and airports will use the stamp as a guarantee that they conform to health and safety protocols required by the WTTC.  

  “The DOT is one with the global tourism industry in prioritizing health and safety of travelers. In support of this shared advocacy, we will constantly improve our protocols, to make sure that our stakeholders, communities, and workers in the Philippines that rely on tourism can resume their livelihood safely once travel restrictions are eased,” Puyat said.  

The DOT earlier released “new normal” health and safety protocols for hotels, resorts, other accommodation establishments, restaurants, tourist land transport services, beach and island destinations and meetings, incentives, conventions, and exhibitions (MICE) facilities and organizers.  

 Puyat added that travelers also have a shared responsibility in the process of keeping tourism in the Philippines safe.  

  “The concept of responsible traveling should no longer be limited to keeping our destinations and attractions clean and preserved. In the new normal, travelers will have a bigger role to play. The success of health and safety measures will rely also on their cooperation,” she added.  

###

DOT OFFERS ONLINE “ENHANCED OPPORTUNITY” TRAINING FOR TOURISM STAKEHOLDERS

MEDIA RELEASE

April 16, 2020

The Department of Tourism (DOT) has launched an online training program for the country’s tourism stakeholders to stay relevant, learn to cope with the difficulties arising from the global pandemic novel coronavirus or COVID–19, and to facilitate transition to recovery.

DOT Secretary Bernadette Romulo–Puyat said the program dubbed DOT Online Training is done via Zoom video–conferencing and offers the stakeholders an option to use their time productively during the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), which has been extended to April 30.

“The DOT is developing online courses for tourism stakeholders. This conceptualized as an alternative to the regular training programs being conducted by the Office of Industry Manpower Development. This our vision in embracing a new normal for our industry,” said Puyat.

The tourism chief added that the course covers two subject areas: 1) Tourism Enterprise which involves monitoring, evaluating and learning from past and present situations to enable tourism stakeholders to prepare better for the future; and 2) Filipino Brand of Service which applies the seven Filipino values or “7Ms” that characterize Filipino hospitality, namely May Likha, Makatao, Makakalikasan, Makabansa, Masayahin, May–Bayanihan and May–Pag–asa.

“We can turn the temporary inactivity during lockdown into an opportunity to enhance the quality of tourist services. We can objectively look back at our past and current performance and utilize the breathing space to plan how we can further upgrade our services in our respective areas in the industry with the values of Filipino hospitality,” said Secretary Puyat.

The DOT Chief enjoined the tourism stakeholders to participate in the online training program, adding that the DOT is set to develop additional modules on other topics.

“The DOT will continue to develop other online courses to enhance skills, assist and encourage stakeholders to cope, transition and move towards recovery”.

For more information, visit DOT Trains FB Page

###

DOT OUTLINES TOURISM RESPONSE, POST–COVID 19 RECOVERY PLAN TO AID PRIVATE SECTOR

MEDIA RELEASE

April 15, 2020

Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo–Puyat assures the public that the Department of Tourism (DOT) is doing everything within its mandate to aid the stakeholders of the country’s tourism industry in light of the COVID–19 pandemic.

The assertion comes on the heels of the appeal of the Philippine Travel Agencies Association (PTAA) for government to provide aid to local travel agencies weathering the impact of the Covid–19 pandemic.

Puyat noted that some points and suggestions raised by the PTAA have been incorporated in the Tourism Response and Recovery Program as well as incentives lined up by the DOT and its attached agencies to help tourism–related businesses and their work force get back on their feet.

“To cushion the impact, the DOT and its attached agencies, even before the lockdown, laid out the response and recovery plan during the initial stages of the COVID–19 outbreak in the country with the tourism sector taking a direct hit early on,” Secretary Puyat added, noting that the DOT will be extending a wide range of assistance not only to tour operators, but to the entire travel and hospitality sector.

The DOT’s immediate response actions include the implementation of a moratorium on the collection of accreditation fees from new and renewing applicants from Tourism Enterprises (TEs) and Tourism–Related Enterprises (TREs) for the year 2020. The DOT and the Tourism Promotions Board have also waived the participation fees in international fairs and exhibitions between now and the end of 2021.

Also among the immediate response of DOT was mounting its own 20 sweeper flights and assisting those by embassies that helped many of the travel trade’s clients leave the country. As of 14 April 2020, the DOT was able to extend assistance to 19,898 foreign tourists and 1,456 domestic tourists.

The DOT was also able to assist the OWWA in looking for rooms for Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs), Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) companies, and bank workers. As of 13 April 2020, the DOT was able to find a total of 13,116 rooms in the NCR for OFWs and 25,687 rooms for BPO agents, bank workers, and health frontliners.

The DOT also submitted to the Department of Labor (DOLE) the list of displaced workers from various tourism–related enterprises for cash assistance. Along with other industries, employees of tourism enterprises will be provided with a 5 to 8 thousand peso wage subsidy per worker under DOF’s program.

The agency likewise lobbied with the DOLE to include tourism front–liners among the recipients of Hazard Pay for the duration of the ECQ, especially those who work at accommodation establishments that house health workers and repatriated overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and risk contamination to COVID–19.

In response to to the appeal of the travel industry, the DOT has also been communicating with the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) and the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) to provide rehabilitation financing support such as, but not limited to, extending low interest loans for tourism enterprises that have been severely affected by the COVID–19. Relative to this, the DBP has identified the tourism industry under COVID–19 as qualifying under its program called Rehabilitation Support Program on Severe Events or RESPONSE, which aims to provide rehabilitation financing support through low interest loans to business, which have been adversely affected by calamities. The Land Bank of the Philippines will also assist tourism stakeholders under its program called: Rehabilitation Support to Cushion Unfavorably Affected Enterprises by Covid–19 (I–RESCUE) Lending Program.

The department has also made appropriate representation with the Social Security System (SSS), PAGIBIG Fund, and PhilHealth for the deferment of tourism workers’ contributions. Upon these representations Philhealth has agreed to extend the deadline to remit the members’ savings/contributions until two weeks after the lifting of the ECQ without any penalty. PAGIBIG has also agreed to extend its deadline of payment of premium contributions for the first quarter of 2020 to 30 April 2020. Social Security System agreed to extend the deadline for the remittance of contributions until 01 June 2020.

On the other hand, for the requested deferment of corporate income tax payments by the BIR, as well as other interventions which require the action of other government agencies, the DOT has made the necessary representation with the proper government agencies for these interventions and will follow up on behalf of the travel industry.

As for the association’s request for rent and utility discounts, and travel agency commission from airlines, these are normally matters governed by contracts between private parties, and not subject to government intervention, but they can be subject of legislation which can provide financing or subsidies therefor. The same thing may be said for the association’s request for salary and travel tour expo subsidies. All these matters will be raised by the DOT to the Congress which is also currently considering a bill granting a fiscal stimulus package to the tourism industry.

The DOT assures its tourism stakeholders that it will continue to extend them assistance to cushion the impact of the crisis on the industry.

###

Filipino Food Movement launches an online campaign, supporting Filipino chefs and restaurants

The community organization rallies behind purveyors of cuisine during the COVID-19

lockdown period. 

Featured Content by The Filipino Food Movement

Media Release

April 7, 2020


(San Francisco, CA) — For the foreseeable future, everyday life and business around the world have changed with the COVID-19 pandemic. Among the numerous, significantly impacted sectors are American Filipino restaurants and chefs, whose collective work has strongly influenced the American food scene.  As social distancing and the quarantine continue, businesses pivot their models, and adapt from in-house dining to take out and delivery services. This change is the impetus for two campaigns led by the Filipino Food Movement that will launch this week — Support Filipino Takeout and Kulinarya LIVE!

Support Filipino Takeout is a call to action for all Filipino restaurants and food purveyors to submit their menus to the Filipino Food Movement which will be made available via the nonprofit’s social media platforms. The national directory aims to make Filipino food accessible to a nation that continues to stay at home. Chefs, food entrepreneurs, and restaurateurs can submit their info here: https://bit.ly/2wqrwkA

On social media, the Filipino food scene has shown a significant uptick in activity and interest with daily menus, food photography, cooking demonstrations, and a constant search for easy recipes to make at home. 

On April 9, at 12 pm Pacific, Filipino Food Movement will premiere a live-streamed series, Kulinarya Live! The series will bring Filipino chefs from around the world into mobile phones and screens, streaming over Facebook (@filipinofoodmovement.) Its first live stream features a multi-awarded San Francisco chef, Francis Ang of Pinoy Heritage

“The idea was to utilize our social media reach to promote Filipino food business. Each chef or restauranteur is encouraged to compete in the digital space. We want to amplify their voices,” shared Sonia Delen, President of the Filipino Food Movement. “We hope that both projects continue to push the presence of Filipino cuisine in the global food scene and bring comfort and enjoyment to Filipinos all over the world.”

Filipino Food Movement is a community-based organization that was formed in 2014 to generate broad awareness, appreciation, and enhanced investment in Filipino culinary arts. Its mission is to support Filipino cuisine and its purveyors to create a recognizable footprint in the mainstream food scene. 

###

Media Contact: 
Wennie Conedy
Wennie@filipinofoodmovement.org

DOT PROVIDES VIRTUAL BACKGROUNDS FOR VIDEO CALLS TO ENCOURAGE “TRAVEL FROM HOME”

MEDIA RELEASE

April 4, 2020

The Philippine Department of Tourism (DOT) is encouraging the public to “travel from home” by providing virtual backgrounds that people can feature in video conferencing platforms such as Zoom, Webex, and many more.

The photos can be downloaded from www.philippines.travel/fromhome for free and will allow users to showcase the beautiful landscapes of the Philippines from the safety and comfort of one’s home.

The “Travel From Home” virtual backgrounds take you to some of the most popular travel spots in the country and are arranged to reflect the relevant times of day do you can have your early morning meeting with a glorious mountain sunrise and your evening one with a golden beach sunset.

The DOT reminds everyone that while our destinations miss you, it’s vital that you stay at home as much as possible during the community quarantine so you can return to your favorite places in the Philippines soon.

#TravelFromHome

#SaveOurSpots

#WeHealAsOne

##

Fil-Am director Dean Devlin’s ‘Almost Paradise’ is the first-ever American TV series shot in the Philippines

Featured Content by Asian Journal Press

March 30, 2020

Christian Kane, Samantha Richelle and Arthur Acuña star in WGN America’s “Almost Paradise.” | Photo courtesy of Electric Entertainment

The first-ever American TV series filmed entirely in the Philippines debuts on Monday, March 30 on WGN America.

“Almost Paradise” is an action-thriller show created, written and produced by award-winning Filipino American filmmaker Dean Devlin.

Known for his work on “Independence Day,” “Godzilla, “Leverage,” and “The Librarians,” this is Devlin’s first project involving his Filipino roots.

The series is centered around Alex Walker (Christian Kane, “The Librarians” and “Angel”), a former U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agent who goes into early retirement and moves to a beach in the Philippines he remembers visiting years ago. Alex finds himself drawn into cases where he uses his skills as a longtime operative to put away the bad guys that cross his path.

The idea came to Devlin during his honeymoon in Hawaii some 14 years ago when the local news had a story about residents capturing a drug dealer on their own.

“It just got me thinking about island justice, island culture and island spirituality. I always said, ‘I really would like to write something about that,’” Devlin told the Asian Journal. “Over the years, I thought, ‘Why do it in Hawaii?’ I’m half Filipino and I’ve never done anything connected to my own culture so when the idea came to put this story in the Philippines then things started to accelerate quite quickly.”

Beyond the “poverty porn” and other stereotypical notions people may have about the Philippines, Devlin didn’t want to make the storyline about the current political climate and the controversial drug war.

“To be able to bring things from the culture — the looks, the costumes, the traditions — and put that seamlessly in a very American show…one of the goals here is not to say that Filipinos are the other. The goal is to say Filipinos are us and we’re all part of the same beautiful community,” he said.

Filipino American producer and filmmaker, Dean Devlin. | Photo courtesy of Electric Entertainment

As for the challenges that came with filming in the country, Devlin joked, saying “The better question is what wasn’t the challenge?” His production company, Electric Entertainment, partnered with ABS-CBN and built a soundstage at Bigfoot Studios in Cebu.

Thankfully, the production had finished and left the Philippines before the government stopped international flights because of the coronavirus outbreak.

“We literally wrapped production 18 hours before they stopped the international flights. It was crazy. It felt like we were on the top of that building in Saigon during the fall of Vietnam trying to get the last helicopter out. But we finished the season,” Devlin said.

The 10-episode series, shot in the island of Cebu, features a predominantly Filipino cast and crew. Actors Samantha Richelle and Arthur Acuña star as detectives Kai Mendoza and Ernesto Alamares, respectively.

When Devlin and Kane took a trip to Manila to scout local talent, Richelle auditioned for the role of Kai Mendoza upon the recommendation of Dela Torre and blew them away.

Samantha Richelle as Kai Mendoza in “Almost Paradise.” | Photo courtesy of Electric Entertainment

“In me preparing for the role of Kai, I literally fell in love with her…She’s such a ballsy character, but yet also very sympathetic. It was just amazing to be able to delve into that,” Richelle told the Asian Journal, adding that a week before filming began, she did combat training and learned how to shoot.

“You’ll see in the show, every episode we pushed a little bit farther on [how] she can go as an actor and every time we raised the expectations, Samantha reached it. This character really develops over the course of the season and this is no easy acting job,” Devlin said. “She’s really the breakout actor on this show.”

Filmmakers Francis Dela Torre, Hannah Espia, Dan Villegas and Irene Villamor directed several episodes; meanwhile, Pao Orendain served as director of photography and Digo Ricio as production designer.

“This is a very intense American way of doing a TV series…This crew was amazingly responsive because this was not in their comfort zone at all. It’s not the way that they do shows in the Philippines. They were all eager to learn [and]…they all kind of wanted to show what they could do,” Devlin added.

With more Filipino faces on an American network, Devlin sees it as a way to usher in more Filipino representation.

“There’s been a wonderful explosion of diversity in entertainment over the last few years. But the Asian community in general — and the Filipino community in specific — has really been left behind that. We wanted to be part of the energy that’s correcting that and part of pushing us into the spotlight and saying, ‘Hey, take a look. I think you’re gonna like what you see,’” he said.

“Almost Paradise” airs on WGN America at 10 p.m. ET.