While whipping up a dip seems to be an easy kitchen task to do, the process of conceptualizing and developing a recipe that will standout actually entail innate creativity and hard work by a passionate chef determined to bring his vision for a dish to life. This is true for the journey of Choice of the Nation Grand Cook Off winner Chef Edward Taponan in creating his innovative and versatile Thai Chili Honey Dip recipe—now officially the Philippines’ first-ever “Choice of the Nation.”
“When I was conceptualizing my dip, I knew I needed to create something that has a good balance of sweet, sour, salty and spicy. It may seem like it’s so easy to think of a simple dip to put together overnight, but it doesn’t work that way. I knew that if I had to infuse all four elements into one dip, it had to be something versatile that will complement not just one kind of protein but can also be replicated into a dressing or marinade for grilling,” shared Chef Edward.
His winning Thai Chili Honey Dip recipe, made with Lady’s Choice® Real Mayonnaise and a mix of flavorful herbs & spices, turned out to complement different kinds of fried and grilled meat and vegetables. This showed the dip’s uniqueness and versatility that he exactly wanted to showcase in joining the first-ever Choice of the Nation competition.
Choice of the Nation was a one-of-a-kind culinary competition initiated by Unilever Food Solutions (UFS) Philippines and Lady’s Choice®. It challenged Filipino chefs and cooks to unleash their creativity to whip up innovative mayo-based dips that will capture the discriminating palates of Filipino diners.
Chef Edward’s recipe bested nine other dip creations that made it to the finals, which were the Honey A1 Carolina Reaper by Chef Sonny Balaga Jr., Basi Dip by Chef Natasha Besteben, Tom Yum Mayo by Chef Ryan Singson, Socorro’s All Time Favorite by Chef Sharmaine Santos, Hawaiian Jerk Dip by Chef Ross Benito, Wings Gone Wild’s Garlic Ranch Dip by Chef Jerina Castillo, Alamang Con Mayo by Chef Villa Amor Loresca, The Fish Mongers Remoulade by Chef Jayrald Yambao, and Spicy Cream Cheese Mayo with Roasted Capsicum by Chef Angelo Guison.
Aside from taste, presentation, creativity and innovation, and audience votes, the dips were judged according to the use of Lady’s Choice® Real Mayonnaise in their recipes. This staple kitchen ingredient features a rich taste and creamy goodness that is familiar through generations of Filipino chefs and their diners. Chef Edward shared, “I have been using Lady’s Choice® for the longest time because it just blends together with different kinds of dishes, especially dips which we make a lot in Mrs. Cheffy, because I never found it too complicated to use and experiment with.”
43-year-old Chef Edward is a Psychology Major from the University of the East Ramon Magsaysay Memorial Medical Center (UERM). He decided that cooking was really his passion after religiously watching Gordon Ramsay’s Hell’s Kitchen TV show. It took him a good 12 years before finally pursuing culinary studies in the International School for Culinary Arts and Hotel Management (ISCHAM).
The passionate chef hopes to use his talent and skills to also help promote the Filipino cuisine. Claiming Filipino food, Red Adobo with asuete in particular, to be his specialty, he said, “I want to dig deeper on forgotten classic recipes and bring it to life para exciting.”
Chef Edward’s vision aligns with UFS’ mission as a trusted partner of the food service industry in the country and around the world. “We at UFS believe and support the one true mission of every Filipino chef and cook—to delight their customers with exquisite dishes. As such, we strive to help them develop their craft through the ingredients and services we create so they can continue to deliver a remarkable dining experience for their customers,” said James Benedict Carreon, Managing Director of UFS Philippines.
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