Monday, August 1, 2016

A cooking tour of Manila Culinary and Hospitality Academy (San Juan, Metro Manila)

Last month, I was invited by the magnanimous Aldous Calubad to an exciting event: a cooking tour in Manila Culinary and Hospitality Academy, a newly-established learning institution in the heart of San Juan, Metro Manila. While it has been operating for less than 5 years, the school has earned its reputation as one of the premier culinary academies in Metro Manila. The school is part owned by renowned chef Boy Logro, a mainstay in GMA7 as a renowned cooking show host. 

To date, every batch in the school has up to 25 students. Most of their graduates are employed immediately in different sectors of the culinary industry from cruise ships to hotels and restaurants.

Our demo tour was headed by the warm and cheerful Chef Fats Palma, a veteran in the cooking industry. She gave us a 1 hour lecture where she explained the different styles of cooking and the different kinds of food according to their classification. I had a particularly interesting experience after I learned about these facts. I had no prior experience with cooking, and I was particularly interested in learning more about the craft as a life skill that I could use later on in life. 

After the lecture, our group was escorted to the demo kitchen within the school. The kitchen was full of different condiments, cutlery, ingredients, and industrial cooking equipment fit for a top-notch learning institution. I'd say that the facilities were adequate for bringing out the best in culinary instruction and practical exercises. The kitchen itself was air-conditioned and superbly clean. 

We then had an exciting experience in preparing a popular restaurant dish: cordon bleu with boiled potatoes and steamed vegetables. According to the chef, cordon bleu is pretty easy. But for a newbie like me, it seemed pretty laborious. The bloggers were divided into 4 groups. One was to make the cordon bleu, the other one made the sauce, my group made the potatoes, and the last one made the steamed vegetables. 

The Cordon bleu was actually a chicken breast with a ham and cheese filling rolled, breaded, then fried to golden brown perfection. It was dipped in egg yolks before being fried to ensure the crispiness of the dish. The team that made the dish was actually pretty good when it came to handling the ingredients. As to making the rolls, Chef Palma explained that the cheese and ham filling were to be place on the chicken. The chiken was also pressed before rolling to ensure that the dish would easily fit the ham and cheese fillings. Of course, they were assisted by the astute students of Chef Palma. 

As for our group, I made sure that the potatoes were cut and boiled well. We then fried them to perfection after adding a butter and pepper seasoning. I was a bit challenged with coring potatoes to achieve that round small potato aesthetics that will be used to decorate the dish

The white sauce that accompanied the crisp cordon bleu was boiled and topped with butter and onions for that tangy taste. I commend the group who made it due to the balanced and creamy flavor.

Chef Palma then taught us how to chop vegetables the 5 star hotel way. According to her, the presentation of the food determines the price it will fetch in a fancy restaurant or hotel, even if the ingredients are common. That being said, I learned something about food presentation. 

After cooking, we got to sample our creations. I can say that our concerted efforts brought out the best in our cooking skills. I truly appreciate the fact that cooking is a very rewarding enterprise after this experience.

Truly, MCHA has taught me a bit about cooking. I truly appreciate their efforts to inculcate something about the craft. Later on in my life, I'd really consider enrolling in their school to improve and important life skill.

Manila Culinary and Hospitality Academy is located in 663 J. Wright Street, Brgy. Batis, San Juan, Metro Manila. (MCHA) Their FB page is

The story in pictures:

Chef Fats Palma introducing herself

The enrollment package

Chef explaining the recipes

Some of the most common cooking methods

Chef Palma lecturing us on cooking methods

The eager crowd listening attentively

The utensils section

The industrial stoves

The vegetables and utensils on display

The kitchen itself 

The utensils on display

A huge stove 

The refrigerated chicken breasts

Chef Palma with her students

The bloggers eagerly awaiting instructions

An explanation on chopping vegetables

How to chop carrots

The potatoes

The bloggers eagerly reading the recipes

A demo on vegetable chopping

The chicken breasts being prepared

The ham and cheese filling

Chef Palma explaining how to press the chicken breasts

Pressing the chicken breasts

A pinch of salt to taste

The egg yolks and bread crumbs

The pressed chicken breasts

Boiling potatoes in salt water

The finished product: chicken cordon bleu

The white sauce

Chicken Cordon bleu being fried

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