051416 - The Urban Tracker (In Taguig): Lechon Party with Cuisine Nanay Mam Neneth & Nancy Lumen in St. Martin

Greet the rooster for the backyard cook invitation



n ordinary backyard feast could turn into a truly Pinoy-style dining experience at least in the hands of the renowned Pinoy cuisine curator Mam Neneth Tiongkiao. It's after all a thanksgiving following the growing trend of innovating homegrown Pinoy cuisine. 


A backyard cook off and tasting affair in Mam Neneth's place

That was revealed as our chasing for cravings led us into the unchartered corners in Mahogany subdivision part of Bagumbayan, Taguig. A modest garden resort in the tip of St. Martin Executive Homes was our last stop. With a breezy neighborhood, we found it stuffed with tents pitched up, table set-up by the swimming pool while Madam had just assembled her garnishing for the table.

Cool chef Neneth Tiongkiao beams with a smile despite pending tasks.
Mam Neneth, as she's wonderfully called by her afficionados greeted us in her warmth and welcoming manner like a mom neighbor you knew for quite sometimes. She was narrating without reservation all the stories of her sweet victories from her humble beginnings as she started her fix of jasponica rice for boiling. She's demonstrating her new found concoction of a paella rice applying an extracted oil from chorizo.

Hands-on Mam Neneth looks on with participants.
Profusely, she recalled her days as an ordinary housewife who constantly nurtured a passion in cooking brought her conducting luncheon invitation as a way of thanksgiving to friends, neighbors, fellow mothers in a simple gathering of outdoor food tasting and chit chats.

A neighbor Cuisine Nanay trying her mettle to mix paella
For the love of discovery and a little penchant for experiment led her to try out her luck by joining local competitions. She first gained recognition after winning 2nd place in SM Hypermart cook-off fest until an opportunity opened for her to join the Frabelle Food competition which she clinched. That earned her to represent the Philippines as official entry in the World Food Expo Competition by 2013. 

Lechoneros on the move but game for selfie.
Ordering the lechoneros to stuff the chicken inside its belly in gentle detail, she's about to complete her final touch recreating the lechon that earned her the accolades recalling the Hypermart contest. 

The younger lechonero blowtorching to even out the lechon color.
Her first attempt of competing in international scene almost didn't materialize. Thanks to an unexpected assistance from a friend who funded her trip recalling that struggle. In that occasion, she realized the magnitude of the competition and was so amazed of its prestige learning how big, established and professional the food industry in the United States. Being on that affair was being in alignment with the world’s best chefs and famous food personalities.

Mam Lumen giving a tip on how to properly stir when cooking a rice.
For that event, her entry of bulalo along with the caldereta were hailed the best in their categories that gave the Philippine a formidable edge in global cuisine scene. Since then, things were never the same again for Mam Neneth. With cooking invitations left and right,  she started eversince her campaign in sharing her experience by encouraging and inspiring other fellow housewives in her nearby barangay of Bagumbayan to be pro-active and creative in developing Pinoy dishes.

Everyone  took turns to sample mixing the paella
That festive lechon party coincided with her upcoming birthday the reason invited friends, neighbors, wellwishers, and some special guests came with potluck contribution. A share of deli like inutak, cassava cake made the food call even more gastronomically indulgent and a homy sharing affair. 

Inutak a native original delicacy in Taguig
Cassava cake overload for a potluck
The one and only Adobo Queen Nancy Lumen graced the gathering and rubbed elbows with fellow housewives and even shared some of her cooking ideas. Daylight was retreating when the guests started pouring in time to witness Mam Neneth’s simple demonstration of her new paella experiment. For a little surprise, she gave some guapple from a tree in her backyard just as a token of appreciation. 

The ever generous and influential Pinoy Food Historian Nancy Lumen gracing the affair.
Of course, the highlight was the sharing and the serving of the lechon that was oozingly crunchy and tasteful to the last bite. And it rings true that a Pinoy occasion cannot come close to a celebration without the presence of lechon. 

The highlight of the eat-out invitation - the tasty native lechon
Embodying a fulfilled housewife who considered herself a late bloomer but now putting Pinoy cuisine in world map, destiny is provident enough to put Mam Neneth in this calling and it's never too late even in 50's. As long as guided with the spirit of bringing on the authenticity, one could never go wrong and even go places from the backyard and conquer the world.
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