In an effort to come up with better and healthier alternatives for fast food choices, the convenience store 7-Eleven has come up with instant meals especially created for the Filipino palate.
These are the Chef Creations that Chef Claude Tayag has concocted in three variants of Filipino food—adobo, sinigang, and pinakbet.
These are neatly packed and are available in all 7-Eleven branches, chilled and microwaveable.
Chef Claude, a renowned Filipino chef and advocate of Filipino food, has been very hands-on in supervising the creation and preparation of the meals.
He stressed that he did not want the quality and taste of these "creations" to be compromised.
Chef Claude is the owner of Bale Dutung (Hose of Wood) in Angeles City, Pampanga.
Already a popular chef in the Philippines, he became even more famous when the American chef, Anthony Bourdain, gave rave reviews of his dishes that were featured in the American author/ host’s travel and food show, No Reservations, on CNN.
Chef Claude said that he feels honoured to be chosen by 7-11 to create and come up with “healthy options” for busy people who don’t have time to prepare their own food but still want to have quick and nutritious meals.
At the launching of Chef Creations at his restaurant last April 28, Chef Claude recalled anecdotes that convinced him he was right to take on the challenge from 7-Eleven.
He began, “One time, we had a guest here [at Bale Dutung], a mother concerned sa kinakain ng anak niya who works in a call center.
“When I told her about this, sabi niya, “Hay, salamat na lang it’s something healthy, hindi na ako magwo-worry sa anak ko.’”
He added that people settle for instant food that lack proper nutrition because they have no choice.
The chef explained further, “I consider it a pioneering effort in a sense na they are crossing a threshold from regular food to something, not only we can say na food for the soul…
"Pagkain na kinagisnan natin, comfort food natin na malayong-malayo sa hotdog at hamburger.
"Real meal na hindi lang pampalipas gutom.”
In the preparation of the meals, Chef Claude related that he and the management of the convenience store brand were aware that it would be be difficult to convince people that their new offerings do not have preservatives.
He explained this was the reason it took a year to finish the project.
He elaborated, “I went back and forth to the commissary, na-perfect na namin yung recipe in terms of taste.
"The traveling [of the food to selling racks], okay naman.
"Naka-chill, controlled ang temperature, so good for three days.
"In-experiment nila ‘yan, maximum number of days and chilled, it’s not frozen.”
Case in point, the chef cited the left-over dishes in the house, refrigerated, reheated the next day, and still edible.
Chef Claude also related how they came up with the three meals from a number of famous Filipino dishes.
He said, “Initially, I made a shortlist of 12 [meals], ginawa ko lahat ‘yon, presentation and all that until na narrow to nine, then six, then three.”
He continued that surveys were conducted where the participants chose the best meals for them, and the results are the three meals that are now available on hthe chillers of the 7-Eleven stores.