Food News: Chef Dan Puga II Reigns Supreme with Octopus Sisig Dish at the First-ever Funlasang Pinoy Twist Fest

Sunday, September 10, 2017

After cutting through 160 entries and besting eight other Filipino chef finalists, Chef Danilo Puga II hails as the first-ever Funlasang Pinoy Twist Fest Champion with his original recipe of Octopus Sisig, a spin-off on the classic Pinoy favorite sisig dish. The culinary competition was initiated by Unilever Food Solutions (UFS) Philippines to provide an avenue for Filipino chefs and cooks to showcase their talents and creativity to reignite everyone’s love for Filipino food.

Puga, 30, took up Culinary Arts and Technology Management at the Center for Culinary Arts but first worked in the corporate setting before pursuing his passion for cooking. After a leap of faith, deciding to make the great shift to fulfill his dream and also have more time with his family, he put up his own 40-seater restaurant in Antipolo called Minced Manila. When asked what his inspiration was behind his Octopus Sisig dish, he shared, “Personally, mahilig kasi ako sa sisig [I personally like sisig]. We were thinking of healthier alternatives to sisig, so we used octopus instead. It was my father-in-law who introduced octopus to me. Whenever I would see octopus in the market, I would come up with different dishes with it, one of which was this dish.”

In line with UFS’ initiative to place the limelight on Filipino cuisine, Puga also shares in the same advocacy and practices food innovation in his own restaurant to help the cause, give Pinoy food the recognition that it deserves, and encourage chefs and cooks in the Philippines to create their own unique recipes too. “We should never be afraid of getting out of our comfort zone by using new ingredients or infusing different techniques to Filipino food because this will help the cuisine evolve. Innovation will bring the Filipino cuisine to the world map,” Puga shared.

Apart from his now-award-winning Octopus Sisig dish, Puga also offers a variety of innovative and flavorful dishes with a twist such as Ensaladang Pakwan at Kesong Puti, Sizzling Fries, and Lechon Ceasar Salad in his restaurant.

Puga’s Octopus Sisig surpassed the rigorous judging by notable chefs in the industry, including Aracama Filipino Cuisine Executive Chef Fernando Aracama and UFS Senior Sous Chefs Brando Santos and Paulo Sia, and took home the grand prize of PHP 100,000. The unique dishes prepared by the nine finalists were scored according to creativity of the twist, food taste and presentation, and the use of the UFS products such as Knorr® and Lady’s Choice® Real Mayonnaise.

This milestone is just the beginning for greater things to come for Chef Dan Puga as he envisions to put up even more restaurants, if given the opportunity. In hopes to inspire chefs and cooks with his win at the Funlasang Pinoy Twist Fest, he would like to create even more impact among those who share in the same passion and love for cooking. Dan shared, “Never stop learning and always believe in your talent. Also, practice the fundamental methods of cooking because at the end of the day, no matter how good your concept is, but the cooking method is not right, wala din. We have to go back to basics.”

Without a doubt, the creativity and skill of Pinoy chefs is something to be proud of as seen in the exceptional dishes created by the Filipino chefs and cooks at the Funlasang Pinoy Twist Fest. With UFS’ continuous initiative to create avenues for chefs and cooks to showcase their skills, creativity and knowledge, and give them access to the right products, chefs and cooks can expect even more opportunities from UFS that will cultivate their talent, and celebrate the Filipino cuisine.

To know more about UFS and Funlasang Pinoy, visit

Knorr Funlasang PinoyFinals (August 26, 2017)

It's the final round!!! You may have seen the ads and the calls for entries for Unilever Food Solutions' Funlasang Pinoy competition awhile back. This day was the final challenge round for the contenders, wherein the first ever Funlasang Pinoy winner was born/crowned/lahat na!

Funlasang Pinoy basically is a recipe ideation contest, using Unilever Food Solutions products to give a twist to kaldereta, sisig, sinigang, tapa, and pansit. Out of soooo many recipe entries, they narrowed it down to the top 10 to compete on this day. Out of the 10, 1 was unfortunately unable to compete (though the reasons were not disclosed), hence 9 finalists who battled it out. Criteria for judging, of course, had a big chunk going to how creative the participants were in their recipe twists.

My Kushikatsu Daruma Experience (August 24, 2017)

Thursday, August 31, 2017


If the tissues, wall signages, menu reminders and all that still don't get to you, then wewwww!!! 

The "No Double Dipping" rule is enforced in Kushikatsu Daruma as it's a Japanese chain. In Japan, wherein shared seating is not unusual, sitting with strangers can and will happen. Traditionally, to prevent waste, Kushikatsu Daruma serves one big tub of sauce per table instead of 1 tub of sauce for each diner. One needs quite a big tub of sauce to be able to properly dip and coat the Kushikatsu, so serving one tub per diner is gonna be wasteful. Since there's just 1 tub per table, and in Japan, strangers could get seated together, which is why there is the practice of no double dipping. In Manila, there is no sharing of tables as far as I know, but this is a tradition that the Manila branch wishes to uphold. 

And now, what actually is Kushikatsu? 

Kushikatsu refers to delectable fried foods on sticks. It sounds so simple in theory, but the management of Kushikatsu Daruma had to send their chefs to Japan for a month to make sure they get the technique perfectly! Frying food seems so basic to us non-Japanese people, but to Japanese people, there is a lot of dynamics to frying. Japanese cooking will consider the batter, type of food being fried, type of fryer, and the things together in a fryer at a given time. Adding a new item to the fryer makes the oil a little bit cooler, so in Japanese philosophy, you'll need to know how to readjust the cooking time of all the other things in the oil with respect to the temperature change. AND I am perfectly sure there is still a much, much longer list of complexities I'll never know of hahahaha 

Food News: Happy Hour at Kushikatsu Daruma

Monday, August 28, 2017

You still can’t double dip your Kushikatsu skewers, the perfect beer chow, but you can now double down on your Chu Hais, our Japanese mixed drinks, while also enjoying a price drop for local beers at Kushikatsu Daruma.

From Mondays through Fridays at 4PM to 9PM, you, your friends, and your workmates can drop by our Uptown Mall restaurant to avail of our Buy 1 Take 1 happy hour promo as you dig into our world-famous Kushikatsu skewers.

San Miguel Light or San Miguel Pale Pilsen beers will cost you just P50 (from P65), while two Chu Hais will only set you back P280! Choose from favorites like Lychee, Kiwi, or Mango Blackberry.

See you soon and kanpai!
Enjoy Happy Hour at Kushikatsu Daruma at Uptown Place Mall (2nd floor), 36th Street Corner 9th Ave., Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City


Manila, Philippines – The new season of Southeast Asia’s first and top photography reality competition series Photo Face-off, is set to feature amateur photographers across the region equipped with Canon cameras and printers to deliver stunning and compelling images that capture the “lens-cape” of pop culture taken under pressure. A HISTORY® Asia original production and presented by Canon PhotoMarathon, Photo Face-off Season Four premiers on August 24, 9 pm on HISTORY®.

“In this day and age of compact cameras, camera-equipped smartphones, and instant photo-sharing behavior, it has become easy for anyone to easily take a nice picture, share it with the world, and be instantly recognized as a “photographer”. However, seasoned photographers know that it takes more than that to be really good in the art and craft of photography. Along with eye and talent, a good and fully-equipped camera helps capture a powerful subject that becomes even more interesting when printed with a printer that’s specifically built to bring out the beauty of images,” said Benny Yu, Consumer Group Director of Canon Marketing Philippines, Inc. “This is why Canon has partnered with the HISTORY® Asia, to ensure that the contestants have the right gear to up their game and deliver the best and compelling images they can take even if they are just starting out in photography. They have access to our point-and-shoot range, mirrorless cameras, EOS professional line, and even our specialty photo printers to help them all the way.”

The newly expanded six-part, 1-hour format program will follow the photography adventures of its largest crop of 23 contestants from eight territories who will overcome exhilarating challenges to capture stunning photo stories of popular, socially-trending and culturally-relevant subjects and interests of today.

The fourth successive season of Photo Face-off welcomes back Justin Mott, the resident chief judge and award-winning professional photographer that everyone loves to beat. With over 100 assignments for the New York Times and work featured on the BBC, the reputable photography authority also includes TIME, Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, and The Guardian among his clients. Over and above Justin’s massive internationally renowned photography portfolio, he also runs a studio in Vietnam specializing in commercial photography and video production.

Vibrant, fun and talented Singapore-based Kelly Latimer also returns to host the HISTORY Asia original fan favorite series, just months after welcoming her newborn. She is a popular personality who has hosted a range of programs from motorsports, football, gaming to current affairs.

The first five one-hour episodes of Photo Face-off Season 4 will sweep across Singapore, Malaysia, Philippines, Indonesia, and Vietnam. In each of their respective home countries, four local amateurs compete against each other for the single country representative spot in the season’s grand finale.

Among the challenges that the contestants will have to go through include:

1.     thinking quickly on their feet in the “speed” challenges like shooting a bowl of shaved ice dessert before it melts under the hot noon sun;
2.     delivering on a client’s creative brief in “themed” challenges such as getting action shots for an all-terrain vehicle (ATV) ride while going on the bumpy journey themselves;
3.     going head-to-head on the “final face-off” for the two remaining contestants to determine who wins a ticket to Chiang Rai, Thailand for the finale. In this part, Mott also competes against them, and if he is outdone, the winner bags an additional cash prize and bragging rights for beating the award-winning professional;
4.     bracing themselves as wild cards jostle for an additional spot in the finals to join the competition.

The photography adventure will unfold against the backdrop of some surprising and colorful locales such as quaint Malacca in Malaysia, historical Intramuros in the Philippines, and idyllic Bintan in Indonesia – in addition to the bright lights, hustle and bustle of the capital cities.

Prizes at stake include a Canon DSLR, an all-expense-paid trip to participate in the esteemed Canon PhotoMarathon Asia Championship, as well as cash prizes. Together with Justin, local expert guest judges from each territory will judge the works of contestants.

Viewers can also pick up a fresh array of practical photography advice and handy tips from the judges that they can put into everyday use from Photo Face-off.

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