Flavors of CamSur: Taking Farm To Table To Heart at CamSur's Culinary Lounge

It was good to see an old friend again, leading the way with the emerging culinary transformation of CamSur...

Junior Master Chef Louise Mabulo shared her latest culinary concept at her family's farm in CamSur with The Culinary Lounge focusing on farm-to-table cuisine and her innovative new endeavor, The Cacao Project. One thing's for sure, Chef Louise never ceases to amaze...  

I first met Junior Master Chef Louise Mabulo three years ago as she prepared for the Disciples de Escoffier Young Talent Competition mentored by Chef Philip John Golding (more on my posts at Deconstructing Filipino Flavors with Junior Master Chef Louise Mabulo on her award-winning dishes and Good Food and Good Company with Disciples of Escoffier at Smith Butcher and Grill Room with Chef Louise taking over the kitchen at Smith and Butcher) and since then, her credentials continue to impress. Louise is an award-winning chef, entrepreneur, agriculture advocate, public speaker, competitive archer, and a graduating student at the University of the Philippines Open University. Just a student, imagine what more Chef Louise can do when she graduates. Louise is the youngest member of the prestigious Disciples de Escoffier Philippines, where she also won the best Dessert in Asia Award at the Disciples de Escoffier Young Talent Competition. A finalist in the recent Junior Master Chef reality cooking show, Louise is also the brand ambassador of the Department of Tourism's Flavors of the PhilippinesOperation Smiles Philippines, and Breville Philippines. And Louise is just starting. Last year, Louise was awarded a Lifetime Fellowship from the Resolution Project of the United Nations 2017 Winter Youth Assembly for The Cacao Project, a social venture and personal advocacy. She was lauded and recognized as Outstanding Youth Ambassador at the 21st Session of the United Nations Youth Assembly for her work on The Cacao Project. And with all these, she also runs the family farm in CamSur, where the Culinary Lounge is located. 

Her passion to promote sustainable agriculture, fair trade, reforestation, supporting local farmers with relevant livelihood programs, food security, and farm-to-table cuisine keeps her busy at the Culinary Lounge. That's a whole lot to grasp when you think about it. Then again, this is Chef Louise who rarely backs down from a challenge. The Cacao Project is one reason why many people say chocolate is the next big thing in CamSur, and with Chef Louise behind it, this next big thing will definitely happen much sooner rather than later. At the Culinary Lounge, Chef Louise holds special culinary classes using fresh and local ingredients sourced from the family farm.

And it was good to see Chef Louise again. As we arrived at the Culinary Lounge, Chef Louise had some special treats for the group after the half-hour drive from Naga City. It's been a flavor-filled day starting early in the morning (see my post, Flavors of Naga: Kinalas, Toasted Siopao, Pili Nuts and a Sleeper Bus Ride to the Queen City of the South), followed by a sumptuous lunch at one of Naga City's proudly homegrown brands (more on my post at Flavors of Naga: Welcome to Bigg's Diner Country...), and a much anticipated dinner with modern Spanish cuisine (more here at Flavors of Naga: Rich Heritage Cuisine at Que Pasa). But before dinner, Chef Louise prepared her own tasty surprise for the group... 

Chef Louise served a refreshing Green Papaya Juice, all sourced from the family farm for a healthy all-natural thirst-quencher. Deep fruity notes that's not too sweet that's just perfect to beat the summer heat.    

On the table, farm-fresh Salted Duck Eggs from the family farm were served paired with a tart Tomato Gazpacho.

Simply crack the eggs, and add a generous dab of Tomato Gazpacho to temper the mildly salty notes. It's pure, simple and rustic flavors with farm-fresh goodness that just can't be beat.

And since we're in CamSur, a dash of local chili sauce completes the flavors for that spicy kick. 

Then, Chef Louise brought out a plate covered in a glass cloche filled with aromatic smoke..

...before opening and revealing her next dish, Smoked Malasugi or fresh swordfish, marinated in light soy, ginger and fresh fruits. 

The clean flavors and briny sweetness of the fresh malasugi lines the palate followed by the subtle nutty notes of the marinade made from light soy, ginger and fresh fruits capped by that hint of smokiness to complete the flavors. The play on contrasting notes blend seamlessly with every bite highlighted by vibrant hints that can only come from the freshest ingredients. Pure perfection on a plate.

Chef Louise Mabulo then draws inspiration from the indigenous delicacy of sticky rice steamed in coconut milk in bamboo with her own creative take on Sinuman, adding fresh bananas, crushed pili nuts and chocolate sauce made from local artisan chocolate from The Cacao Project for an indulgent spin. A staple among the native Agta tribes of Bicol, Sinuman is reinvented and elevated by Chef Louise. And what a makeover. The fresh bananas, pili nuts and rich chocolate combine for a sinful richness elevating the traditional sinuman. The culinary landscape in CamSur is definitely evolving, and Chef Louise is right there at the forefront.   

Chef Louise then prepared the next dish using her artisan chocolate... 

...with light, soft, and crisp Churros to cap an elegant mid-afternoon snack at the Culinary Lounge. Just perfect. It was good to see Chef Louise again. And you can bet you'll hear more from her soon.

The Culinary Lounge is located at Zone 5, Barangay Pamukid, San Fernando, CamSur. For more on The Culinary Lounge, check out Chef Louise Mabulo's blog at Teenage Master Chef Louise Mabulo.

This article was originally published on Dude for Food: "Flavors of CamSur: Taking Farm To Table To Heart at CamSur's Culinary Lounge