The Hotel and Restaurant Association of the Philippines (HRAP) organized the first Chefs on Parade (COP) in 1974 as a simple food display at the Sea Breeze Hotel in Bacolod City , Negros Occidental. The sold-out one-day event featured chefs from participating hotels cooking for a small crowd of food enthusiasts, who got to sample the finished products at the end of the day. There was no competition yet as we now know it.
The COP participants originally intended to stay in Bacolod for no more than a day. However, many of them were prevailed to stay by as much as four days by some of the affluent families in the area who invited them to be their houseguests. The guests were much surprised that at mealtimes they were served the recipes they cooked during the event. They discovered that the household cooks from these families were sent to the cooking demonstration to learn new dishes.
The COP has greatly evolved from that simple food demonstration. With Manila as its regular venue, the event became the Chefs of Parade we know now in 1983 when Millie Reyes of the Plaza Restaurant chaired it. The competition blazed the trail for other culinary events that came after it.
The COP was held annually from 1979 until 1998. Beginning the COP in 2000, it was held every two years until 2004. As the competition grew, so did its venues. From hotels, the contest moved to venues like the Philippine International Convention Center, World Trade Center and the Clamshell in Intramuros.
Today, the Chefs on Parade is known as the longest running culinary competition in the country. The contest pays tribute to the Filipino chef, finding the best in the industry and recognizing their talents and skills as chefs. Its objective is to highlight the creative talents of both students and professionals in the industry.
When COP was first organized in the ’70s, culinary courses were not as popular as they are now. Many Filipino chefs learned the trade from their counterparts who trained in Europe . It is with this knowledge and the inherent talent and creativity of Filipino chefs that a new breed of Filipino chefs embraced the challenge of creating new dishes and presenting them on interesting table setups.
The COP awards became a much-coveted prize among culinary students and professionals. Participating in and winning at the COP gave bragging rights to emerging chefs, schools, restaurants and hotels. It served to benchmark one’s knowledge against industry practitioners.
The Market basket competition, which is now the highlight of COP, was first started in 1983. The idea for this event was based on the idea put forward by French food writer and critic Robert Courtine in his book “Le Grand Jeu de la Cuisine” (The Great Cooking Game). Courtine said the best test of a chef’s creativity is to present him with a “market basket” and work with its contents. The Market Basket required participants to come up with a three-course meal, inclusive of appetizer, main course and dessert, based on the ingredients on hand.
The COP went on a hiatus from 2004 due to financial constraints and the unfavourable economic conditions. However, the HRAP decided to revive the COP in 2011 to reassert itself as the landmark culinary event in the Philippines . COP came back with a big bang at SMX Convention Center, one the country’s premier event venus attracting more than 26,000 visitors. After the resounding success of COP 2011 under the chairmanship of Richard Masselin, COP 2013 promisses to be as massive and exciting throughout the 4 day-event. COP 2013 will also have more reach in the Asian region with more foreign participants and celebrity Master Chefs, says COP 2013 Chairman Philippe Bartholomi.
Year after year, with its changing theme and venue, COP continues to attract culinary students, professionals, and foodies alike. People in the food and beverage and hospitality industries always look forward to its competitions. With each staging of the COP, the HRAP aims to provide fair guests with fresh culinary ideas through its competitions, exhibits, seminars and other events. It also allows suppliers in the hospitality and F&B industries to keep in touch with their target clients through the COP exhibits. Today, the COP has more than 30 competitions for professionals and students, more than 25 cooking demos and 25 worshops. And to this day, the Market Basket competition continues to be at its very center, with the winners receiving the COP’s highest award, the L’Assiette d’Or or Golden Plate Award.
Chefs on Parade 2013 is the 28th event organized by the Hotel and Restaurant Association of the Philiplpines. Keeping the theme “Ultimate Asian Showdown” the organizers challenge themselves to raise the bar of expectation and meet it.