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“Exploring the Rinconada Culinary Treasure”



Upon commencing my gastronomic voyage in the center of Rinconada, I was given an opportunity to showcase my skills to the locals of Rinconada. This historic event—which took place on February 22, 2024—at Natuk in Sta Cruz Iriga City marked the culmination of my culinary adventure while I was a doctoral candidate at De La Salle College of Saint Benilde, where I was studying tourism and hospitality management.


Rinconada is very close to my heart because it is the hometown of my mom. She shared with us a lot of stories about the place, their lives, and their fun memories in the small town of Buhi, Camarines Sur. One of the first things I learned from her about Rinconada is the Sinarapan, which she always shared with us: this fish is the smallest edible fish in the world.


Part of my dissertation objective is to showcased Rinconada dishes through degustation, wherein I invited renowned people from a variety of fields to grace the small event, which was a celebration of Rinconada’s rich history, tourism, arts, culture, and academia. Local historian Professor Frank Peñones, Jr. who is an award winning in the field of literature, tourism chief of Buhi, Camarines Sur, Architect Macel S. Iballar together with her associate Ms. Imelda H. Javines, tourism officer of LGU Nabua Ms. Shaina Gail L. Azul, Section Head of Planning and Development, Culture, Heriatege, Arts, and Tourism of Iriga City Ms. Cindy B. Lagriada, Drink Sustainability’s Communication and advocate of Rincoanada talents represented by Mr. Michael Ian Bolalin, Dean Maria Joy Iglesia of Camarines Sur Polytechnic Colleges, and fellow industry practitioner Chef Rey Resurreccion were among the distinguished guests.


From right, Prof. H. Frank Peñones, Jr., Ms. Cindy (ICHAT-Iriga), Chef Roy, Dean Maria Joy (CSPC), Chef Gerald, Ms. Gail (LGU Nabua), Arch. Macel and Ms. Imela (LGU-Buhi), and Mr. Michael Ian of Drink Sustainability Communications


My passion for inventive cooking and my commitment to promoting local sustainability motivated me to meticulously create a five-course dish that highlighted the flavors and essence of Rinconada. Each course highlighted the uniqueness of our culinary heritage while paying homage to the abundance of the region using ingredients that could only be found locally.


Pako Salad in Bilabo Vinaigrette and zesty lemon


The journey began with an enticing Tilapia Ceviche in glass chip sinarapan, honoring the region’s aquatic treasures and my mom’s howmtown, Buhi. Subsequently, a visually arresting soup, a New Look (Laygit) Concoction, was showcased, inspired by the seaside area of Rinconada. A refreshing crisp pako salad dressed in a Bilabo vinaigrette. Bilabo is a traditional sidedish in Rinconada, Bicol Region, wherein they used a traditional Bilaboan (mortar and pestle) to crush and make all the ingredients turn into paste-like texture. What makes bilabo unique is the addition of langkawon, a local ingredient with mild spicy flavor that belongs to the family of ginger. This represents the lush surroundings of Rinconada. While the savory Herbed Truffled Tinoktok paid homage to classic flavors with a modern twist, what makes this dish luxurious is the addition of truffle oil and topping with coconut caviar. The delightful Bingsu Mulido served as the sweet conclusion to a culinary symphony.


Herbed Truffled Tinoktok served with brown rice topped with coconut caviar


Every dish represented my dedication to enhancing regional cuisine with a combination of creativity and fundamental molecular gastronomy techniques. The goal of the occasion was to satisfy guests’ appetites and promote pride in Rinconada’s unique culinary culture.


My feelings of satisfaction were profound after the degustation event. The combination of the flavors, the ambience, and our shared admiration for the richness of Rinconada’s culinary heritage made this an experience that we will never forget. Beyond merely a food, it was a celebration of the distinct flavors of our region, sure to make an impression on the taste buds and, hopefully, the memories of all who took part in this culinary journey.


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