Day 2 of the U.S. Potato Board Davao safari began with a live demonstration by the influential Sandy Daza, scion of Filipino food pioneer Nora Daza and chef of The Wooden Spoon, Mai Thai, Au Bon Café, Au Iles Philippines, Maharlika , and Chef Sandy’s Cuisine restaurant, among others.
It was our first time to meet and shoot Daza, who turned out to be friendly and funny, with lots of tips for the bloggers on how to bring out the flavor of their dishes. His demo consisted of three dishes, Potato Baked Seafood, Mixed Sausages and Crispy Potatoes, and Beef Caldereta with Potato Wedges. There was no denying these all made excellent beer food, and the organizers had to field questions why there was no beer in sight!
After the demo, Chef Sandy took time out to consult with the participants to prepare them for the following day’s cookoff. With Chef Sandy busy, we asked Chef Victor Barangan of Waterfront Hotel to plate the demo’d dishes for us. Here’s how much the chef’s art contributes to the visual appeal of food:
On the left is the Baked Potato Seafood as plated (in a hurry) by the organizers; on the right, Chef Victor’s version.
Dinner was at another Davao icon, the Polo Bistro by the poolside at the Marco Polo Hotel. Here Chef Alex Destriza put out a four-course meal consisting of Potato Crisscut and Shrimp Cake salad, Potato Soup Infused with Turmeric, Honey Caramelized Pork Spareribs with potato wedges, and a Strawberry Cheesecake whose crust was made of crisp crumbled potato. A most delightfully sinful meal again, and a load of fun to shoot!
At first I chose a shooting station toward the back of the restaurant, in a nicely lit area with a marble top, but then I saw the wine rack near the door. To highlight the sophistication of the food served here I chose to shoot with the wine rack as my background, and the Polo Bistro headwaiter very nicely accommodated my request by providing me a table and riser that put the food right where I wanted it. Light was a single flash in a 60” shoot-through umbrella.