When I attended the launch of AirAsia’s RedTalks (Season 2) with Daphne Oseña-Paez last February, I got an exclusive peek of the show’s pilot episode. That screening showed Ms. Daphne visiting the Malagos Garden Resort to learn more about cacao farming. Air Asia also asked Chef JP Anglo, one of the Philippines’ most dynamic chefs, to create a special dish using Malagos chocolates. Chef JP concocted the Roasted Dalandan Chicken with pimiento sauce, which will be added to the Santan in-flight menu of Air Asia by April. Back then, I made a mental note to order that new dish if my upcoming trip out of the country pushes through.
That webisode also kept me glued because of the location where they filmed it – the Malagos Garden Resort. Honestly, I’m only familiar with the Malagos Chocolates. I’ve no idea that the makers of this world-class chocolate also have a resort where people can visit. The sceneries in this pilot episode of RedTalks were too beautiful that it made me miss Davao City.
“I want to visit that resort!” I silently screamed in my head. I want to be surrounded by nature and I want to see Malagos’ massive cacao farm.
Unexpectedly, after my recent trip to Palawan, I got invited by AirAisa to join them in Davao City for the launching of this special dish. My level of happiness rose to ecstatic when I learned the day before my scheduled flight that we’re staying at the Malagos Garden Resort. Sweet!
AirAsia’s New In-Flight Meal with Malagos Chocolates
AirAsia, the airline voted as the world’s best low-cost carrier, in collaboration with celebrity Chef JP Anglo will introduce a special chocolate dish in their Santan In-Flight menu starting April 12. The Roasted Dalandan Chicken with pimiento sauce, flavoured using Davao’s famed and internationally recognized Malagos chocolates will soon grace the skies.
Chef JP Anglo is regarded as one of the new generation “rock star chefs” because of his flair for creating edgy dishes with strong local Filipino identity. Born and raised in Bacolod City, Philippines, Chef JP’s love for food and cooking led him to study at Le Cordon Bleu where he also worked in one of the world’s foodiest places, Sydney, Australia. Chef JP’s style of cooking has always been about enhancing what’s already there by borrowing techniques and inspiration from different places.
Being a traveler himself, Chef JP admits he has always been curious about airline food and is thrilled with the idea of partnering with AirAsia to create a delightful dining experience for Air Asia travellers. “I am incredibly happy and excited to share my first dish especially made for an airline and I love it that AirAsia is literally taking Filipino home-grown products and talents to greater heights,” Chef JP said.
With Chef JP’s passion, AirAsia teamed up with him to create something fresh and new using a home-grown and internationally award-winning Malagos Chocolates.
The famous Malagos Chocolates of Davao have been making a buzz in the internatonal scene for quite some time now. And just last year, the cacao beans where this single-origin fine flavour chocolate that is truly tree-to-bar has been recognized as one of the BEST 50 IN THE WORLD at the 2017 Edition of the Cocoa Excellence Programme in France. This is such a huge feat for the cacao industy as this proves that our very own Philippine beans can compete side-by-side with other top producers from cacao-growing countries worldwide.
So that special pimiento chocolate sauce that is incorporated in this new in-flight meal from Air Asia is not just sourced from any random chocolate brand. It comes from one of Philippines’ best. And what better way to let the world know about Malagos chocolates than by offering it to people who frequently fly and hopefully share the good word.
Some people often say that the sky is the limit, but for Davao’s world-class Malagos Chocolates, who knows it may even go beyond the skies.
At the launch, Chef JP did a live cooking demo to show us how the Roasted Dalandan Chicken with pimiento sauce was made.
The chicken is soaked in a dalandan marinade, which consists of dalandan juice, vinegar, salt, sugar and other spices. The marinade doesn’t have any traces of chocolate in it because Chef JP wants the chicken’s flavor to be intact. The citrusy flavor of the chicken will simply be complimented by the rich chocolate sauce. Chef JP says that “chocolate is versatile and flexible”. So anything is really possible especially with a dynamic chef like him who is eager to explore different ingredients to come up with something uniquely Filipino.
While waiting for the marinade to seep through the meat, Chef JP showed us his key ingredients for that ‘special’ sauce.
The pimiento chocolate sauce was prepared by incorporating the Malagos chocolate with grilled mashed bananas and grilled vegetables. The banana and the vegetables had to be grilled to bring out that rich aroma in them before everything is mixed together.
At the cooking demo, we witnessed how Chef JP started adding different ingredients to the blender. Ingredients like mashed grilled bananas, grilled leeks, dalandan powder, vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, roasted onions and chilies, liquid milk chocolate or broth were blended before simmering it in a pan with the melted Malagos chocolate. The final product gives you a sort of like rich chocolate Filipino barbecue sauce.
“The banana gives the chocolate body. When you grill bananas and then mash them and incorporate it in your chocolate it gives it that familiarity and it gives it that sweetness,” Chef JP said.
Once the roasted dalandan chicken were cooked, Chef JP started plating it and soon enough, huge plates floated out of the chef’s little corner and landed on our respective tables.
I’d have to say that I’m impressed with this unique meal incorporating Malagos Chocolates after tasting it. The chicken is well marinated and it is not too salty. The sweetness of the pimiento chocolate sauce complimented it well. The flavor was not overpowering, in fact, it blended perfectly well with the roasted chicken.
Mr. Karlo Sanchez, AirAsia’s Head of Ancillary, thinks that what makes Air Asia’s in flight meals unique is because of the different flavors they offer from different countries. And I agree. The variety of dishes one can choose from is quite a privilege as no other airline company offers the same type of meals. I love eating and every time I go to different places, I make sure I try the local food of that region.
Being introduced to new and great-tasting food from different countries makes me miss it especially when I go back to my home country. For instance, when I visited Melaka last year, I couldn’t get enough of the Tandoori chicken served at one of the places highly recommended by the guest house where I stayed. I still haven’t found an equivalent taste in our city. I also missed eating Nasi Lemak and Rendang during my short stay in Kuala Lumpur and Cameroon Highlands. In Indonesia, the spicy sauce of the Ayam Goreng I devoured in Surabaya was to cry for and I enjoyed every dip of that sauce, tears included. The different dishes offered at Air Asia’s Santan menu somewhat makes up for the longing I have with Asean meals I miss on my past travels and it gives me reason to look forward to flying with Air Asia as I can simply order those dishes if I’m off to a new destination.
By April 12, travellers flying with Air Asia can start pre-booking this wonderful dish. The Roasted Dalandan Chicken with Pimiento Sauce by Chef JP Anglo is served with garlic rice and thin slices of bell peppers. Expect a symphony of flavours teasing your palate once this flavourful roasted chicken touches your mouth.
This latest addition to AirAsia’s in-flight meal surely excites the foodie in me and I can’t wait to book future flights withAir Asia and go on a delectable foodtrip up in the air.
Latest Addition to AirAsia’s In-Flight Catalog
Aside from Santan hot meals, AirAsia is also supporting social entrepreneurs from Manila, Davao and Cebu by selling their handwoven items and natural food products on all AirAsia flights across 180 destinations in the whole of Asean, Asia, Australia, Middle East, China and US.
I was quite curious to know what else is there to add to Air Asia’s collection of in-flight merchandise so I was very much pleased to discover the wonderful products they carefully thought of adding to this year’s catalog.
At the in-flight meal launch, I was happy to meet amazing social entrepreneurs and had the opportunity to talk to some of them about their products.
ANTHILL’s Abaca buckets is one of the products that will be added to AirAsia’s in-flight catalog. The Abaca Bucket is made of Abaca and weaved by the Daraghuyan Tribe in Bukidnon.
ANTHILL (Alternative Nest and Trading/Training Hub for Ingenious/Indigenous Little Livelihood Seekers) is a social and cultural enterprise in the Philippines that works to preserve local weaves through contemporary and zero waste design to sustain livelihood.
When I asked Anya where they source their fabrics, she mentioned that they work with different communities in the Philippines. Their hand-woven fabrics are from the rural weavers of Abra up north. A community of mothers in Tisa, Labangon in Cebu City makes their rag dolls and other products. They also work with different tribal communities in Bukidnon for their antique accessories.
Olivia & Diego is a Davao-based social business that works with communities of stay-at-home mothers and human trafficking survivors to create upcycled jewellery made out of fabrics from discarded cotton-knitted t-shirts that are beyond repair and fabricated into woven ropes.
Tsaa Laya is a premium tea brand that explores and promotes local herbs, fruits and spices of Philippine islands as modern tea ingredients.
Tsaa Laya’s herbal teas are source of livelihood for mothers and women whose families were relocated from Manila to the countryside due to typhoon disasters and city development. The company has established their herbal farm and tea processing facilities inside a resettlement area at Calauan, Laguna to develop livelihood for the families who are recovering from typhoon disasters and relocation.
AirAsia Philippines CEO Captain Dexter Comendador said, “AirAsia is a sociable and innovative brand we take pride of our collaborative nature. There is so much talent and unique products in the Philippines especially in Davao that deserve the world’s attention and it brings us so much pride that we are with Chef JP, Malagos chocolates and social entrepreneurs who all value a strong, innovative service culture – which is also the hallmark of AirAsia’s brand of service.”
AirAsia’s newest in-flight hot meals and merchandise are available on all AirAsia domestic and international flights in the Philippines with Z2 flight code. AirAsia guests are encouraged to pre-book their meals to save up to 20% as compared to purchasing their meals on board, with a guarantee that their preferred meals are available during their flights. Guests who have booked their flights without meals, meanwhile, can easily add them in via the ‘Manage My Booking’ option after logging in to www.airasia.com.
“We value customer experience at all points of the journey – from the purchase of the ticket to leaving the airport, on board, and onto the destination. This latest enhancement in our in-flight menu makes flying with us also a delightful dining experience,” Comendador said.