Wednesday, April 23

One Night at the Global Culinary and Hospitality Academy

[Note: This article came out in the Flavors Section in The Philippine Star in the middle of March 2008. This is the raw, un-editored version.]

Finals are supposed to be no fun at all. It’s supposed to be stressful, gut -wrenching and very, very unpleasant. However, this is not the atmosphere that I felt when I entered Global Culinary and Hospitality Academy last January. The place was vibrant and full of energy like an oven is about to explode. Luckily, none of that happened and I had a wonderful night. I arrived late for the event, I did not know what to expect and I did not know what the event was about. After walking for about a kilometer to the Academy from the MRT station, all I was really thinking was “I hope they have free food in this place”. I was sweaty and tired and when I entered I realized that I was so underdressed in my sweaty shirt and jeans. However, the people who welcomed me made me feel right at home with their warm enthusiastic smile and polite demeanor. I almost felt like I arrived in a limo and wearing an Armani suit. Looking around, one cannot help but notice the quaint setup of the Academy. On one side is the classroom which could probably sit around 40 people and adjacent to it is the kitchen which is not unlike the kitchens you see in Top Chef or Jamie’s Kitchen. The two rooms flank the main restaurant-type area which has the feel of an authentic fine dining restaurant.


According to Chef Edward Bugia, one of the Academy’s faculty members, their thrust is not just to teach the students in culinary arts but also educate them on how to provide the customer a completely pleasurable dining experience. This is probably what differentiates Global from other culinary schools. Whereas other schools confine themselves within the heated walls of the kitchen, Rob Pengson’s Global steps out of the kitchen and into your air-conditioned dining room. The food that was prepared was both expected and unexpected at the same time. What I mean is it is exactly the type of food that people expect out of similar high end restaurants but upon tasting it, they’re quite different from what one might originally imagine.

Dinner Time

There were several dishes that caught me pleasantly by surprise, from the texture to the aftertaste, there was always something that you would take note of afterwards. My personal favorite would have to be the shrimp soup which all the people in me table finished in about thirty seconds flat. Quite a barbaric act actually, considering the elegant nature of the place we were in. This is not to say that the evening went without a hiccup. There were several indeed, like the two pieces of beef that somehow failed to agree as to what temperature they’d be arriving at my table and a couple of dishes that were fashionably late. I decided to take that opportunity to converse with the students and the chefs and find out more about them and the academy. I entered the kitchen and half expected to see Remy commanding the students(there! I got off a Ratatouille joke finally) but instead found Chef Victor Sanchez conducting the orchestra.

New Kids on the Block

I asked some of the students how old they were and I was surprised to find out that a lot of them were quite young and barely out of their teens. Most of them have dreams of traveling overseas and honing their craft in restaurants far from people who cook adobo. Others are simply enthusiastic about cooking in general with no specific dreams or goals in mind. Chef Edi told me that the students are under a lot of pressure, this being their finals and culmination of several months worth of training. I also learned that it doesn’t end that night since for the next several days they will cook other dishes as well such as Moroccan and Asian. I was also able to talk to the other guests such as Chef Ingrid Mediarito of Ingrid’s Sweet Haven who shared some of my views about that event prompting me to think that I can be a chef as well. I went back to my table and treated myself to the rest of the dishes which ended with a dark chocolate tart that put an exclamation point to the evening. It was a wonderful evening all in all and wile I really wanted to come back for the next few days, sadly that was my last. Perhaps I will get invited again *EHEM* and enjoy the experience a second time and I’m quite positive that by that time, they would have fixed most, if not all, of the minor problems. While not yet at par with the real thing, it wouldn’t be a stretch of the imagination to think that they’re well on their way to being so.

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