Every year since 2009, the Ajinomoto® Umami Culinary Challenge (UCC) gathers the Philippines’ most creative and innovative culinarians. The event is now one of the country’s biggest intercollegiate culinary competitions. This year, Ajinomoto® UCC attracted thousands of visitors and hundreds of HRM and Nutrition students from 51 Universities and Colleges, not just coming from Metro Manila and nearby provinces, but as far back as Ilocos, CAR and Visayas.
Distinguished judges during the event included culinary experts Chef Bruce Lim, Chef Dino Datu, Chef Sau del Rosario, Chef Rosebud Benitez and nutrition experts Dr. Veritas Luna, Dr. Zenaida Narciso and Ms. Joan Sumpio to name a few. There were four (4) competition categories that included the Best Filipino Umami Dish, Umami Bento Meal, My Eat Well, Live Well® Plate and My Own Umami Creation.
For the first time this year, Ajinomoto® UCC introduced a National Cooking Showdown, where the winning team from Visayas competed with the best team from Luzon for the Best Filipino Umami Dish competition category. This category recognizes the significant presence of umami taste in Filipino cuisine. The Visayas contingent came from Hercor College – Capiz, they won in the Ajinomoto® UCC Iloilo and Cebu events. But it was La Consolacion College – Manila who came on top after winning in both the Luzon and national rounds for the Best Filipino Umami Dish. The winning entries of La Consolacion are a Capampangan delicacy called Sale Ebun Utik (Duck Egg’s Nest), and an Ilokano specialty called Dinengdeng Boquet with Crisp.
To highlight the discovery of umami in Japan, Ajinomoto® UCC created the Umami Bento Meal competition category. The task for the competitors is to come up with a Japanese-Filipino “fusion” bento meal that boasts of authentic umami taste and outstanding nutritional value. The 3rd place winner is De La Salle University – Dasmariñas with their dish Sinigang Rice Burger w/ Rellenong Bangus Maki, Ginger Calamansi Sauce and Fruit Tartlet. Colegio de San Lorenzo bagged the 2nd place with their Wayō Bento creation. The top team for said category is Rogationist College from Silang Cavite, their winning dish is called Bento Seafoods Galore.