His book, The World of Filipino Cooking: Food and Fun in the Philippines, curates Filipino dishes with Australian ingredients and wine.
Urbano has been living in the Philippines for several years now and he has learned to love the local Filipino culture and found a way to merge it with Australian culture.
He became well known in the Philippines when he featured in a Filipino comedy prank video on YouTube and through his own channel, “Maputing Cooking“. He is also the founder and managing director of Winery Philippines, a curated global wine marketplace.
“The beauty of what Chris is doing is he is combining Australian ingredients with some Philippine ingredients – a fusion cuisine. [The dishes are] very unique and [have] interesting ingredients,” said Australian Ambassador to the Philippines, Amanda Gorely, as she welcomed guests at her residence in Manila.
Urbano said that his journey in learning about Filipino food was helped by talking to people in fruit and veg markets or local stores. The local cuisine is influenced by Malay, Chinese, Spanish and American cuisines. Globalisation of Filipino food in the 17th century underwent an influx of ingredients coming from everywhere, similar to the British and Italian influence of food to Australian cuisine.
The ambassador’s kitchen staff served the guests Australian snacks and food such as Tim Tam, cheese balls and bacon with cheese tarts. They also offered wine and fresh juices to pair it with the dishes served during the afternoon.
Urbano cooked local Filipino dishes including streetside calamari (fried squid coated in flour and egg); Calumpit longganisa (sausage); black bean rigatoni pasta and a refreshing Filipino style fruit punch made with fresh produce. He discussed how anyone can pair wine with local cuisines.
“The calamari with wine, if you dip the squid in vinegar and drink the wine, the vinegar will kill the taste of wine,” said Urbano as he made the calamari dish. “The Australian riesling is dry and [has] high acid. The wine that I’m pouring today is from Clare Valley in Australia. It’s not a typical riesling that’s really known as quite citrusy … [but] It cleans your palate in the end.”
He said that the longganisa dish is a Spanish old world inspired Filipino food, similar to chorizo. He then shared how Australia’s new world cuisine, is similar to how Filipino local food is influenced by other countries such as US, Spain and China – as colonialism infiltrated the country.
“We got ingredients from China, from [the] Spanish new world. We are actually cooking and preparing it in Italian style or how I would call it as Australia new world – as a country of immigrants – we tend to borrow everybody’s food and call it modern Australian and we claim it,” Urbano explained. “We got Italians here for 60 years … So that’s modern Australian now so I consider this to be modern Australian cooking with Filipino culinary influence.”
Ambassador Gorely and the Australian Embassy in the Philippines supported Urbano with his book launch to bridge the gap between the two countries through food. Winery Philippines also serves as a vehicle for the wine expert to pursue one of his goals to make Filipinos appreciate the beauty of pairing local dishes with excellent wines from Australia and other countries producing it.