GTOK 2016: Digging Into The Flavors Of Korea

Here’s a fact: Nothing can ever prepare you for the gustatory high that you will get at the Global Taste of Korea (GTOK). An annual celebration of Korean food that takes place in over 10 countries across the globe, its Philippine leg was held last July 2, Saturday, at the Lyceum of the Philippines University (LPU) in Intramuros, Manila.

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Countless foodies – young and old – flocked to the university to join in the fun and have their go at free samplings of popular Korean snacks, drinks, dishes, and delicacies – from Peppero pretzel sticks, to banana milk, to beef bulgogi.

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The Korean Cultural Center (KCC)-produced cooking show “Mashittda, Masarap” was also aired at the amphitheater for guests who are interested in learning easy Korean dishes that they can cook in the Philippines. Those who wanted the ultimate Korean culinary experience, on the other hand, signed up for a day-long cooking workshop, which included sessions on preparing a Korean lunchbox and a crash course on making various kinds of kimchi.

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The Korean Tourism Organization (KTO) handed out free travel kits for everyone who wishes to visit Korea.  A hallyu booth was put up by Emerald Headway, because what’s a Korean event without a dose of pop culture, anyway? Fans of K-Pop and K-Dramas got free cut-outs of their favorite idols for every purchase of Reader Digest’s special hallyu issue. Fellows from the United Nations Peace Memorial Hall were also warmly welcomed by Filipinos, who enjoyed bowls of bingsu and tteokbokki that the volunteers prepared.

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As the atmosphere on the fourth floor of LPU’s Culinary Institute bustled with gastronomic satisfaction, one floor below was pulsing with tension as three batches of cooks battled it out in the kitchen to prove their culinary prowess and knowledge on Hansik (Korean food). Families and friends of the contestants were present as well to cheer on their loved ones.

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As the day came to a close, three cooks were named as the winners of the Global Taste of Korea cooking competition’s Philippine round. Coming in third place is Maria Dolores Narciso, who prepared a Filipinized version of the braised chicken dish Andong Dakkjim. Aileen Kim, an avid baker, was awarded second place for her creative rendition of the classic Kimbap, which she fashioned to resemble a mosaic. And emerging as the grand prize winner was Susana Tarnate, who won the judges’ palates with the spicy chicken stew dish Daktoritang. Ms. Tarnate has been cooking Korean dishes over the past 12 years, and winning the cooking competition cemented her spot as one of the finest Filipino home cooks with a heart for Korean food.

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Written by: Andressa Nina

Photos by: Korean Cultural Center

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