Meet the new Kulinarya champions: Chefs Neil Syham and Sheryn Jo Peneza

San Francisco had a taste of Philippine culinary prowess during the culmination of the 4th Annual Kulinarya, A Filipino Culinary Showdown.  On Saturday, November 23, 2013, the Kulinarya Championship Round was held at the Cityview of the Metreon in downtown San Francisco.  A total of six Filipino American chefs from different cities in the United States competed in the amateur and professional divisions of the competition.  Chef Sheryn Jo Peneza from Los Angeles triumphed as the winner for the amateur division, while Chef Neil Syham of New York was hailed as the new Kulinarya Professional Division Champion.
Chef Sheryn Jo Peneza has been passionate about cooking since he was young.  His Beef Kaldereta Pasta is a new take on this favorite Filipino entrée as it fused the intense flavors of caldereta and the texture of the rotini pasta, earning him the trophy for the Kulinarya Amateur Division.
Chef Neil Syham is a seasoned chef and owner of Lumpia Shack, a food stand in Brooklyn’s Smorgasburg market and winner of the Best Market Vendor for 2012.  His entries for the Kulinarya Competition proved to be a blend of his culinary talent and creativity:  Sisig Scotch Egg for appetizer, Chicken Afritada (Sous Vide) for entrée, and Instant Bibingka Sponge Cake for dessert.  All dishes were delicate and flavorful, wowing both the judges and the audience.
The competitors were judged according to the cohesiveness of the menu, presentation, creativity, taste, flavor, product doneness and temperature.  The other Kulinarya finalists are Kathy de Leon from San Francisco, and Chefs Karl Orlanes from Los Angeles, Manuel Ramirez from San Francisco, and Paul Rivera of Honolulu.
Saturday’s Kulinarya Competition also featured a fundraising for the victims of Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan).  Various food, beverage and merchandise booths were set up around the Cityview where guests could taste and purchase Filipino delicacies.  A percentage of the sales of some of the exhibitors will go to the various institutions and foundations involved in the relief and recovery efforts in the aftermath of the typhoon.

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