Putting Cebu on a plate

Jenara Regis-Newman

FOR June Rhoses A. Fernandez, corporate executive chef for Parklane Hotels and Resorts, the hotel’s focus on Cebuano cuisine is the plus factor that made him join the company. He had grown up with people who prepared food. His grandparents had a carenderia offering balbacua and pochero along T. Padilla St., Cebu City and as a child, he would tag along with his grandfather when he went to the market. After which, he would sell ice drop before going to school. Preparing food was always something he grew up with.

In college, he took up hotel and restaurant management. When the school joined cooking competitions, he would always win. This made him decide to pursue a career in the food industry. He started from the bottom, working as kitchen helper, steward in a fast food chain, moving to Shangri-La’s Mactan Island Resort and Spa, going abroad to work in restaurants in the United Kingdom (where his mother is), in Victoria, in Singapore. When he came back, he said he really wanted to promote Cebuano cuisine: “I want to push it to its highest level. When Parklane’s general manager asked me if I wanted to work on Cebuano cuisine, I knew I was in the right place.”

Parklane, he said, offers great continental cuisine for its buffet for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It is merienda time when the hotel focuses on Cebuano favorites like dinuguan with puto and mango, binignit, linusak, masi, linung-ag saging ug camote with ginamos sinabado, binangkal, bibingka Mandaue, budbud, puto maya, empanaditas, shakoy. sinudlan bukayo and lumpia tauge.

The focus on Cebuano cuisine is more visible in the hotel’s restaurant called Kan-anan. Here, one can order corn meal instead of rice, balbacua, inasal manok bisaya, hinalang bulinaw, labtingaw, munggus soup, tinowang manok bisaya, lansyaw, paklay and adubong kangkong. Also available is street food like tuslob buwa.

What Chef June is most excited about is the yearly “Sangka sa Kaha” (hosted with the province of Cebu).

“It is a yearly event where we go to different towns and recreate their heirloom dishes with the help of the locals to promote their place. Once we develop their dish, we make the locals compete for the best dish and the winner we bring to the hotel to introduce the food and to put it in our menu. So we had torta of Argao, podrida of Oslob, Bisnok (Bisayang manok) of Dumanjug, humba of Ronda, takyong of Borbon, adobong nokus of Sibonga and tinunuan kinsan sa Aloguinsan.”

Chef June believes in showcasing Cebuano cuisine because it can compete with the best in the world, and in Parklane, he has found the place to do it.