UPM Kalawang Chef Challenges UP Mountaineers in a Cook-off


Mountain climbing is one of the exciting and challenging activities now in the Philippines. Geographically, Philippines has several mountain ranges. Just to mention a few, there’s the famous Mt. Pulag located at the borders of Benguet and Ifugao, Mount Pinatubo in Pampanga, Mount Kitanlad in Bukidnon, and Mount Apo in Davao, which is the highest in the country (3,144 meters above sea level).

A few years ago, I trekked a mountain once in Sagada, Mountain Province called Marlboro Country. And even though I was not that physically prepared to do that, I finished the trail, and survived. Thank goodness! I may not be a professional or seasoned mountaineer, but there’s surely one thing that me and a mountaineer have in common. We both enjoyed the whole experience. The climbing, rapelling, and everything that comes with it.
Oh no. Wait. There are two more things that I still want to do which I haven’t experienced yet, since I only did day-hiking way back. One, camping out-like sleeping in a tent. And lastly, cooking on a bonfire or portable cooking tools (yes, i’m serious about that, because I love to cook).


Photo from Survival Mastery.com

Speaking of cooking, one of the important things that every hiker must not forget is food. Packed meals, cooked or raw, one must be well-fed with the right nutrition to gain the energy for the next leg of the hiking journey.

And for the members of the UP Mountaineers, one of the country’s most popular mountaineering organization, some adventures were meant to be savored by the palate. That’s why they came up with a team cooking challenge held at the UP Vanguard, the UPM Kalawang Chef, a challenge that dares every team to raise their game on outdoor cooking using Mashed POTATO as main ingredient. Yes, you read it right. Mashed Potato. Interesting.

But there’s a twist… Each team will incorporate a secret ingredient which was only revealed to them during the start of the cook-off. So, what is it? TOFU. Yummy! Potato and Tofu in one dish? I’m drooling already. Haha!


Photo from Medical Daily


Potatoes are high in potassium, even higher than banana. Aside from potassium, potatoes are packed with different vitamins and minerals such as vitamin B6, vitamin C, vitamin E, calcium, iron and magnesium which are important to our body in order to be healthy.

If you think potato skin is not relevant and is meant to be put in the waste bin, think again. The skin is a great source of proteins, phytochemicals and amino acids, especially lysine. Lysine promotes healthy organ and muscle growth, and also helps convert fat into energy. (1)

As we digest this starchy-type superfood vegetable, it eventually converts into glucose which our body uses to fuel every cell. That is why it is a good energy booster for any mountaineer or athlete. You may choose sports, energy drinks or sweet snacks to fill in your tummy, but properly prepared pre and recovery food made of potatoes is a good alternative. Plus, it’s healthier.

Going back to the UPM Kalawang Chef cook-offthe climbing cooks were challenged to create dishes using the most nutritionally packed food to date — potatoes, brought in by Potatoes USA-Philippines. Mountaineers and their guests also learned more about the benefits of eating U.S. potatoes and then enjoyed a U.S. mashed potato buffet, to further highlight that potatoes are versatile ingredients. High quality U.S. potatoes can be used for different recipes from main dishes to snacks, soups, salads, desserts, and more.

Curious which team won the UPM Kalawang Chef cook-off challenge? And the winning teams are (drum roll please):

For the Member Category, Team Young Mom got 1st place; while Team Be-Ol-Ya won in the Applicant Category. Look how they presented their dishes. Wow! as if done by a professional chef. So appetizing!

It’s so nice that UP Mountaineers and Potatoes USA organized an event like the UPM Kalawang Chef. The event not only challenged the participants to think beyond canned and convenience food, but it also taught them to consider other healthy food alternatives available in the market like U.S. potato products.

Perhaps with the next climb, trek or hike, more mountaineering enthusiasts will perceive U.S. potatoes in a new way, and keep a healthy stash ready for camp.

For more information on US potatoes, visit www.potatogoodness.com/performance/ or like and follow Potatoes USA-Philippines on Facebook at www.facebook.com/PotatoesUSAPhilippines.



Main source for (1)  is excerpt on potatoes from Medical Medium Life Changing Foods by Anthony William, pp. 158-160.

Penn State Hershey Medical Center paper on Lysine stating that “Some studies suggest lysine helps muscle tissue recover after stress.” http://pennstatehershey.adam.com/content.aspx?productId=107&pid=33&gid=000312

But do white potatoes have lysine? According to SELF Nutrition Data, yes: https://nutritiondata.self.com/foods- 011083000000089000000-3.html

Forty sources of lysine to add to your plate: https://www.healthline.com/health/lysine-foods

Written by Cristelle Torres
Online Content Creator/www.GirlandBoyThing.com