Friday, April 24, 2009

GCHA in "Manila Meets Ming"

I'm cheering Global Culinary & Hospitality Academy, where I will be studying in June, for being one of the participants in the "Manila Meets Ming" competition (click on the picture to see the details). Six Manila-based culinary arts schools square off to prepare a full-course meal in one hour, with the finalists being judged by Asian fusion masterchef Ming Tsai. I'm almost tempted to call and beg for free passes.

Manila meets Ming
11am-7pm April 28-29, 2009; Rockwell Tent, Makati; tel +632-8078272
Entrance fee: Day 1: P250, Day 2: P500, or buy Ming's Master Recipe Cookbook (P3,500) and get to enter for free, plus have it signed and meet chef Ming

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Article: The Last Time I Saw Paris...

So I'm now a fan of Ruth Reichl, after just one read. The Gourmet editor-in-chief writes beautifully about eating well in Paris while spending very little.

Photo from

Monday, April 20, 2009

Enrollment day

I finished enrolling at Global today. I submitted my papers - a photocopy of my birth certificate and official school transcript, a 2x2 and 1x1 picture with a white background and an admission fee of P300. Incoming students are also required to submit a medical certificate with the results of a chest x-ray, blood test, urinalysis and fecalysis.

Afterwards I was asked to write an essay about why I wanted to go into professional cooking. I was then told that I no longer needed to go through an entrance interview and exam - my leaden prose and professional background sufficed to convince the admissions director that I might someday be competent enough to apply fire and steel to foodstuffs, turn them into edible things people can eat and actually get diners to fork over their money for me to do so.

I was given a copy of the school's brochure outlining the curriculum and setting down the school fees:

Grand Diploma in Professional Culinary, Baking and Pastry Arts
Full payment: P195,000 (includes tuition and fees with uniforms, hand-outs and textbook), minus P20,000 for full and early bird payments made before April 30
Monthly payment plan: Discount of P10,000 for payments made before April 30
P70,000 upon enrollment
P40,000 second payment via postdated cheque (July 16)
P40,000 third payment via postdated cheque (August 13)
P25,000 fourth payment via postdated cheque (September 10)
P10,000 fifth payment via postdated cheque (October 8)

Diploma in Professional Culinary Arts
Full payment: P119,950 (includes tuition and fees with uniforms, hand-outs and textbook), minus P15,000 for payments made before April 30
Monthly payment plan: Discount of P5,000 for payments made before April 30
P40,000 upon enrollment
P30,000 second payment via postdated cheque (July 16)
P30,000 third payment via postdated cheque (August 13)
P14,950 fourth payment via postdated cheque (September 10)

Certificate in Professional Baking and Pastry Arts
Full payment: P88,000 (includes tuition and fees with uniforms, hand-outs and textbook), minus P15,000 for the early-bird discount
Monthly payment plan: P50,000 upon enrollment
P38,000 second payment via postdated cheque

Certificate in Basic Professional Cooking
Full payment: P23,000

Certificate in Basic Professional Baking and Pastry Arts
Full payment: P23,000

Yes, going to cookery school is expensive; it's not something you can drop out of later on when you decide it doesn't suit you.

I happily signed my money, and a year of my life, away for the Grand Diploma, opting for the installment payment option. Class will start on June 22. The next intake is in October.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Article: The most gastronomic street in Paris

The FT's Simon Kuper writes about the rue Paul Bert, a Parisian neighborhood that has become a guidebook darling for its excellent restaurants, food and wine stores and even a food bookshop. The sidebar also mentions how the proprietor of La Cocotte, the bookshop, decided to quit her PR and marketing job and become a pastry chef - yet more affirmation that I'm making the right decision. After all, we always hear about people who quit their office jobs to start cooking, not the other way around.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Article: Mastering the art of food

Ging Steinberg's article in Appetite Magazine talks about her experiences while completing her degree in Food Studies and Food Management from New York University. One of the interesting things she did was research intensively and write papers on food-related issues, including one about why adobo is considered the national dish of the Philippines.

Directory of culinary schools in the Philippines

This list is by no means comprehensive, and will be updated from time to time.
Last updated on August 21, 2009, 1:35 pm

*Academy for International Culinary Arts
Suite 207 Skyway Twin Towers #351 Capt. Henry Javier St., Pasig City
Tel: (+632) 672 2271
Fax: (+632) 672 2119

*American Hospitality Academy
108 Aguirre Building, H.V. dela Costa cor. Soliman Sts. Salcedo Village, Makati City
Tel: (+632) 892 7372, (+632) 892 7702

*Apicius Culinary Arts Academy
Silang, Cavite
Tel: (+6346) 686 4168, +63927.6468631

*Asian Institute of Culinary Arts, Philippines
68 Sen. Gil Puyat Ave., Makati City
Tel: 843 0041 to 43

*Center for Advanced Training in Food and Beverage Services (CATFABS)
TESDA Complex, East Service Road, Taguig City
Tel: (+632) 817 6727
Mobile: +63920 8997550

*Center for Asian Culinary Studies
Manila campus: 455 P. Guevarra Street, San Juan, Metro Manila
Tel: (+632) 725 5089, (+632) 726 9326
Email: Enroll via, inquire via

Davao campus: Holiday Gym & Spa Complex, F. Torres Street, Davao City
Tel: (+6382) 300 2227
Telefax: (+6382) 300 2992

*Center for Culinary Arts
Katipunan campus: 287 Katipunan Avenue, Loyola Heights, Quezon City 1108
Tel: Marketing: (+632) 994 2520, (+632) 994 2530, (+632) 994 2540; trunklines: (+632) 426 4840 to 41
Fax: (+632) 426 4836

Farmers Market campus: 2/F beside Administration Office, Farmers Market, Araneta
Center, Cubao, Quezon City
Telefax: (+632) 437 6058

*Chef Logro's Institute of Culinary and Kitchen Services
398 Reuben St., De las Alas, GMA Cavite
Tel: (+6346) 683 0151
Mobile: +63927 784 7532, +63919 431 0748

*Chinese Culinary Arts Center
2130 M.H. Del Pilar St, Malate, Manila
Tel: (+632) 525 2720

*Clicks Culinary Learning Institute
20 IST Avenue, Brgy. Bagong Lipunan ng Crame, Santolan, Quezon City 1111
Tel: (+632) 724 1016
Fax: (+632) 724 1016
Mobile: +63926 675 729, +63927 805 1634

*College of St Benilde, De La Salle University
School of Hotel, Restaurant & Institutional Management
Tel: (+632) 523 8888 loc. 249 [trunk line]; (+632) 525 7562, (+632) 400 7407 [direct line]
Telefax: (+632) 400 7408

*Culinary Institute of Aristocrat
432 San Andres St. corner Roxas Blvd., Manila.
Tel: (+632) 524 7671 loc. 249, (+632) 521 8147
Fax: (+632) 524 1226

*Enderun Colleges
1100 Park Avenue, McKinley Hill, Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City 1634
Tel: (+632) 856 5000, (+632) 638 5555

*First Gourmet Academy
Capitol Hills Drive, Old Balara, Quezon City
Tel: (+632) 951 1687

*Global City Innovative College
3/F Bonifacio Technology Center, 31st street cor. 2nd Ave., Crescent Park West, Bonifacio

Global City, Taguig City
Tel: (+632) 757 55-88, (+632) 818 0945 to 46

*Global Culinary and Hospitality Academy
Pasig campus: 2/F Amber Square, Don Escriva Drive, Ortigas Center, Pasig City 1600
Tel: (+632) 638 5949
Telefax: (+632) 638 6183

Las Piñas campus: 490 Almanza Square Bldg., Alabang Zapote Road cor. BF Homes Almanza,
Las Piñas City 1704
Telefax: (+632) 801 9612

Quezon City campus: Unit 7-8 Timog Commercial Complex, Timog Ave. cor. Panay Ave., South Triangle, Quezon City

*Heny Sison Culinary School
33 Bonnie Serrano Avenue (formerly Santolan Road), Crame, Quezon City
Tel: (+632) 726 5316, (+632) 412 7792, (+632) 413 2428 to 29
Mobile: +63917-8800228

*Intercity College of Science and Technology (formerly Davao Informatics Computer Institute)
2/F Fran Jr. Bldg, J.P. Laurel Avenue, Davao City 8000
Tel: (+6382) 226 8955

*International Culinary Arts Academy Cebu
96 P. Del Rosario Extension Streets, Cebu City 6000
Tel: (+6332) 418 2988
Fax: (+6332) 256 0461

*International School for Culinary Arts & Hotel Management
4/F FBR Bldg, Katipunan Avenue, Quezon City 1108
Tel: (+632) 926 8888, (+632) 920 1481
Fax: (+632) 426 7672

*Magsaysay Institute of Hospitality and Culinary Arts
Manila campus: 3/F Times Plaza, United Nations cor. Taft Ave., Manila 1000
Tel: (+632) 524 9996, (+632) 526 1721

Makati campus: 5/F Waltermart, 790 Chino Roces Ave., Makati City
Tel: (+632) 8875329

*Maligaya Institute for Culinary Arts and Residential Services
2388 L. Guinto St., Malate, Manila 1000
Tel: (+632) 524 8355

*Maya Kitchen Culinary Arts Center
8/F, Liberty Bldg, 835 A. Arnaiz Avenue, Legazpi Village, Makati City
Tel: (+632) 892 5011 loc. 108
Telefax: (+632) 892 1185

*MOST Institute
Manila campus: Boni Serrano Ave. Murphy, Cubao, Quezon City
Tel: (+632) 911 5122
Telefax: (+632) 912 7189
Mobile: +63917 8019506

Davao campus: LTS Bldg. Magsaysay Ave., Davao
Mobile: +63917 6231130

Cebu campus: Khuzn’s Bldg. North Highway, MC Briones, Mandaue City, Cebu
Mobile: +63917 7006678

Batangas campus: 2506 Maharlika Highway, Poblacion 2, Sto. Tomas, Batangas
Mobile: +63917 8566678

Angeles campus: Velvet Bldg. Mc Arthur Highway, Balibago, Angeles City, Pampanga
Mobile: +63917 8836678

*Philippine School of Culinary Arts
G/F Gabriliz Hotel Building, #1 Good Shepherd Rd, Banawa, Cebu City
Tel: (+63
32) 262 7967, (+6332) 419 6020
Fax: (+6332) 419 6020

*Sylvia Reynoso Gala Culinary Arts Studio
181 Shaw Blvd., Pasig City
Tel: (+632) 671 4472, (+632) 671 4489

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Careers for chefs in Britain has a helpful article about the career prospects of chefs in the UK. The interviewee looks like a Filipino.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Currying flavor

I'd been hankering for curry and potatoes for some time, more so when I found out that turmeric has cancer preventing properties (An Apple a Day, Joe Schwarz, PhD).

I took some unpeeled baby potatoes and parboiled them for five minutes, dunking them afterwards in cold water before peeling and cutting them into chunks. Then I chopped a whole tomato and a large clove of garlic and layered them inside an aluminum foil pouch, placing the tomatoes first, then the garlic and the potatoes. Over this I sprinkled the curry powder and some chili powder, then a generous drizzle of olive oil. You can add salt if you want but I don't, since my salad dressing is already seasoned.

I closed up the packet but left a small opening for steam to escape, then placed this on a wire strainer suspended over a pot with just enough water to cover the bottom of the pot, or about 1/8 cup. I replaced the lid of the pot, set my stove to its lowest setting and let the whole thing cook for 45-60 minutes. You'll know it's done when the tomatoes' skins look like they're about to curl up, or when their flesh gives little resistance when prodded with a spoon. All the while the dish is roasting, a perfume of turmeric and roasting garlic fills my room with a sweet pungency.

The yellow of the potatoes is enhanced by the turmeric, while the brilliant red tomatoes provide a pretty complement. The dish is a good accompaniment to a vegetable salad with a mild-flavored dressing, or to fried, roasted or baked meat.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Article: Ottolenghi café’s smiling food

The FT's Nicholas Lander writes about an Israeli journalist-and-academic-turned chef who serves up "smiling food" to diners at Ottolenghi, his chain of London-based cafés.

Ottolenghi worked in academia and as a journalist before coming to London in 1998, aged 30, to train at Le Cordon Bleu institute. He had wanted to become a chef at an early age, but it was not a profession that was looked on with enthusiasm by his middle-class parents. His success has won his parents round, but Ottolenghi says his father cooks with a deftness he feels he can’t match. “He’s a professor of chemistry and somehow he has this intuitive understanding of what should be in a dish and what shouldn’t. That’s what I want to achieve.”

Photo from

Friday, April 3, 2009

My fantasy library of food reads

Feeling a little down today, I went to National Bookstore to look at their food books and try to cheer myself up. A book store often buoys my spirits – just fingering and looking at books, deciding which one to leisurely leaf through and being in the company of, yet separate from, other bibliophiles somehow always makes me feel better. I began fantasizing about the library I would build. My future library, the world's most extensive collection of books devoted to food, would include:

1001 Foods You Must Taste Before You Die

American Food Writing, edited by Molly O'Neill

Connoisseur's Guide to Herbs and Spices by Kathryn Hawkins

The Cooks' Bible by Le Cordon Bleu

Larousse Gastronomique

Memories of Philippine Kitchens by Amy Besa and Romy Dorotan

Professional Cooking by Wayne Gisslen

What to Drink with What You Eat by Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page

Also part of my library, but not photographed, would be Gilda Cordero Fernando's
Philippine Food and Life, Marion Trutter's Culinaria Spain, Lizzie Cunningham's Curry: A Tale of Cooks and Conquerors, Claude Tayag's Food Tour, Kulinarya: A Guidebook to Philippine Cuisine, Marilen Nolasco-Espiritu's Wrap, Store, Peddle and Doreen Fernandez's books.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Welcome to Luto-Lutuan!

I'm starting this online journal because I've decided to switch careers and study professional cooking. How did I get here? I'm really an editor and writer by training and profession. For almost a decade now (gasp!), I have worked in various positions for an international media organization that outsourced some of its operations to my home country, the Philippines. When I started the job so many years ago, I liked the work, the corporate culture, the people and the pay, so I thought, “Hey, this could work, you and International Media Organization could grow old together!” Fast-forward a few more years and here I am, disenchanted with the corporate culture, some of the people, the pay and the work that was making me feel all dead inside. I had a disturbing suspicion that life was passing me by as I sat at my desk researching company news and editing copy. So I daydreamed, imagining myself as a food and travel writer gulping down pisco sour with Chilean locals or combing the souks of the Middle East.

The interest I developed in food grew into a desire to turn it into a career. After all, travel is practically a job requirement for chefs because they have to keep learning about other cuisines. I grew envious of white-suited men and women who could, with steel, fire and their bare hands turn a pile of leaves, a stick of butter, a slab of meat and a few lashings of broth into plated works of art that elicit sighs of rapture from appreciative diners. I wanted to wield a pepper mill with panache, julienne carrots as though I were dancing and knead dough with conviction. Okay, I'm getting carried away. You get the drift.

So, stoked by cooking shows, food books, articles and blogs, I decided to become a chef. I knew professional cooking would also be a hard life; I'd heard of chefs sleeping on the street because they couldn't afford to pay rent (Mats Loo), of chefs taking a finished plate out of an apprentice's hand and throwing it against a wall if they were displeased about how the the dish was prepared (see Heat, Bill Buford). Friends tell stories of chef-friends showing up pockmarked by burns, or with one hand wrapped in gauze after running a knife through it. The kitchen is a boys' club. There are crude sexist jokes (Heat again). Does a female chef get groped in the walk-in freezer, I wondered. Westerners write about this in books and blogs and talk about it in online message boards but as far as I knew, no Filipino had ever written about his journey into professional cooking.

And so, here I am. Pardon the avalanche of self-importance seemingly emanating from that sentence. It's not the case at all. In the first place, I am not even sure if this career change is going to prove successful. And, I don't even dare to be like others who, having graduated from cookery school and earned a measly year or two of experience, answer their cellphones with “Chef X speaking.” Pardon me, I dare not bandy the title about. What I want to do is chronicle my studies in cookery school and my journeys afterwards and share it with friends in the hope that it becomes entertaining and instructive. As far as I know, no Filipino has ever blogged about their experiences in culinary arts school. I'm not sure if it will inspire others who want to embark on a similar career path, but at the very least, it will be an eye-opener to those who want to enter the industry. I am not being paid or influenced by any commercial interests, so you can trust me to call something for what it truly is.

What do I want for myself? I want to keep writing, of course. I look up to Doreen Fernandez, Gilda Cordero-Fernando, Ruth Reichl, Jan Morris and Pico Iyer (the latter two are strictly not food writers but oh, they still rock!). A formal study of culinary arts would hopefully give me kitchen cred when I write about food and if fate is kind, perhaps someday I might approach even a tiny smidgen of their literary greatness. Wearing my toque, on the other hand, I look up to Sau del Rosario, Gene Gonzales, Gaita Fores, Helene Darroze, Jill Sandique, Jessie Sincioco and Grant Achatz. I pray that a Michelin-starred chef or establishment might deign to take me under their tutelage. In five years, I will probably try to become an industry-certified professional. No, I don't want to be on TV! I do, however, want to open my own place someday, and come out with a book celebrating Philippine cuisine. And I want to cook in France, where the tradition of culinary excellence began.

Ah, such lofty goals. By publicizing them, I run the risk of embarrassing myself if I fall flat on my face. You can hold me up to what I've said but please be kind in the event of failure. However, in case I grow a bloated, celebrity chef-like ego spawned by success, please, all of you who are truly my friends, slap me and bring me back down to earth. In the meantime, I will try to perfect both cooking and writing, and hope that you and I find the whole process both useful and entertaining.