We’ve seen the classic Pinoy sisig done and served many ways. From the most beloved pork version, to the healthier alternatives in the chicken, seafood or even meatless sisig using tofu, one can almost say we’ve nearly seen it all.
Enter young and talented Chef Nikko Roa of Hizon’s Catering who has spent hours testing and innovating, all in effort to create his unique version of the Filipino classic – the ‘Toasted Quinoa Vegan Sisig’ – that was recently unveiled at the Knorr® Funlasang Pinoy Year 2 Luzon Cook-off.
Chef Nikko’s creation shows that vegan dishes are no longer second fiddle, but can truly hit the mark in flavor even when it comes to classic favorites. “Sisig has always been my comfort food. I just took it to another level and made a healthier version of it without losing that classic taste we’ve always loved,” said Roa, who’s the grand winner from Luzon of ‘Knorr® Funlasang Pinoy Year 2’—a platform initiated by Unilever Food Solutions Philippines and Knorr® for Filipino chefs and cooks to showcase their talent and creativity by innovating classic Pinoy dishes with fun twists.
Using quinoa as the main ingredient, mixed mushrooms, chilies, tamarind soup base, and Knorr® Liquid Seasoning for flavor, Roa presented a modern and healthier alternative to the traditional sisig, which won the hearts and palates of the judges. His creation stood out among the dishes of eight other talented Filipino chefs and cooks from Luzon who also presented different creative takes on Filipino classics: sisig, kare-kare, bulalo, crispy pata, and adobo.
The 35-year-old chef from Pasig started as a kitchen helper in a hotel before pursuing a diploma from the Academy for International Culinary Arts (AICA). He then took a teaching stint before becoming one of the current Sous Chefs at Hizon’s Catering. Being his first time to join a culinary competition outside of AICA, winning the Luzon cook-off was something Roa never expected. “Pinagisipan ko talaga yung concept ng dish [I really thought hard about the concept of the dish]. I knew I wanted to do something creative with sisig. I wanted it to be unique,” he shared.
Roa shares the same advocacy of UFS and Knorr® in taking Filipino cuisine to brand new heights, and constantly thinks of new ways to present local dishes. “Masarap ang Pinoy food [Filipino food is delicious]—I think we know that well. Our local cuisine has a lot of delicious dishes to offer to the world and we just have to keep on innovating these dishes to cater to the ever-evolving taste of the diners,” he explained.
The grand winner from Luzon took the first of the three most coveted spots of the ‘Knorr® Funlasang Pinoy Year 2’ along with a grand prize of PHP100,000. Together with the grand winners from Visayas and Mindanao, Roa will also get to attend the UFS Chefmanship Academy to further expand his culinary knowledge through mentorships from esteemed chefs in the country.
The ‘Knorr® Funlasang Pinoy Twist Fest Year 2’ will continue its cook-offs in Visayas and Mindanao on August 9 and 22 respectively, to complete all three national grand winners.
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