Spanning 25 years of professional culinary education excellence, CCA Manila celebrated its silver anniversary by showcasing the talents of Filipino chefs through a series of insightful webinars that featured Filipino gastronomy, heritage, and food. As a trailblazer in the culinary industry, CCA Manila continuously nurtures its students by providing innovative culinary education and instilling in them a strong values foundation based on hard work, passion, and creativity.
“Aside from being the pioneer in the industry, CCA Manila’s excellent programs are supported by numerous partnerships that we have with reputable academic and industry institutions such as our ACF accreditation. Plus, we have a long list of medals bestowed on our students, alumni, and faculty in prestigious international culinary competitions,” says Dr. Veritas F. Luna, CCA Manila’s Chancellor for Education.
CCA Manila kicked off its anniversary with “Cook for the World” virtual event with Rep. Toff de Venecia, who shared his thoughts on Filipino Gastronomy and Heritage Policy. “Gastronomy plays an intensely important role in culture because not only food is significant to a tourist experience, but also the fact that gastronomy becomes an important source of identity, evolution, and post-modern culture.”
The second speaker, Ige Ramos, an award-winning book designer, food writer, and artist, talked about “Pride in Filipino Gastronomic Roots.” Ramos believed that before cooking other cuisines, one should understand what you cook at home. In Filipino cuisine, rice is essential: “Rice is the canvas and then use the dish to paint your food with colors and textures.”
He also stressed that to give value to our food heritage, one should discover local ingredients by being observant, talking to the market and visiting farms. Like eating at the carinderias, it plays a vital role in the gastronomic ecosystem of taste, trust and traditions. The recipes from the carinderias tell an authentic story because it was passed down from one generation to the next.
On the other hand, anthropologist Dr. Mike Tan discussed the “Filipino Diaspora, Heritage, and Food.” Filipino food, according to him, is the original fusion cuisine – a mix of Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, Indian, Western, and Pacific Islander flavors that shows the country’s rich and varied cultural history.
We need to give importance to our local ingredients, such as souring agents that can be only found in the Philippines, like Batuan fruit that is popular in Panay Island, and Alibangbang that can be found in the Ilocos Region. He stressed the need to be literate about our food – researching, publishing, and producing regional cookbook recipes to honor traditional knowledge on Filipino food so it won’t be forgotten.
For Dr. Tan, this is where CCA Manila plays an essential role in shaping our culture and honoring our heritage. He believes that the food revolution should start in schools because homes are too tradition-bound. In schools, you can teach the food revolution at different levels, from the basics of cooking in the early grades into scientific cooking incorporating biology, chemistry, physics, the social sciences, arts and humanities, even National Service Training Program.
A takeaway from food writer Angelo Comsti is this: “We need to stop being apologetic about our food. We need to stop comparing it to other cuisines because Filipino food is original.”
On the second day of the five-day online festivities, CCA Manila invited Entrée Pinays to showcase how they promoted Filipino cuisine that is still under-represented in Australia. They shared to the audience how they created the Barrio Food Festival and how they empowered the use of Filipino ingredients such as calamansi, as well as how they curated a pantry store called Merkado. “We can put Filipino cuisine on the global map by acknowledging our culture because ‘Bayanihan power’ is the key to success!” they said.
Nicole Ponseca, restaurateur and cookbook author based in New York, discussed “Sustaining Cravings for Filipino Food.” She is known for bringing Filipino food to the American mainstream audience way back when it was unheard of. Nicole introduced Filipino cuisine to New York diners by simply working on her strategy – “having a viewpoint, understanding your audience, and utilizing a creative brief.” Nicole has established successful restaurants such as Maharlika and Jeepney.
From a trendy point of view, Chef Angelo Guison stressed the importance of storytelling through online content creation. He said that you need to be true to yourself and do something close to your heart. And most important, your content has to be catchy.
This is also what Chef John Buenaventura shared to the online audience. Named Executive Chef at the newly opened Hilton Abu Dhabi Yas Island, he said that it is important to re-discover Filipino heritage dishes and promote them globally via online platforms. One also has to take risks and work hard in order to earn respect in the culinary world.
Today, Filipino cuisine and talents are recognized globally. It is also worth mentioning the CCA graduates around the world are bringing Filipino cuisine and talent forward – Migo Razon as the Executive Chef in Sheraton Melbourne, Andrew Soriano and Jessabel Granada with their Nanam restaurant in New Zealand, Kim and Jay Prieto the owners of Lolo and Lola that recently won People’s Choice Awards 2019 in Canberra, as well as Chef JP Anglo through its Filipino Food Forward campaign cooking around the Philippines, representing Filipino cuisine in San Sebastian, Dubai and Melbourne.
Aside from having a passion for food, education, and cooking, all the brilliant and notable speakers have one thing in common and that is how they recognize and put pride in Filipino produce, heritage, and talent. They may all have different food stories to tell, but it all boils down to this: “Food brings people together!”
With that, CCA Manila as the pioneer and leader in professional Filipino culinary education in the world elevates Filipino cuisine with its innovative Filipino Culinary Arts Program. Through this program, CCA aspires to produce passionate and creative chefs who will excel in Filipino Culinary Arts and bring Filipino cuisine to the kitchen and tables of the world.
For inquiries, visit their website at www.cca-manila.edu.ph. Email firstname.lastname@example.org. Contact 0917.840.8400. CCA Manila campus is located at 287 Katipunan Avenue, Loyola Heights, Quezon City.
Nathaniel C. Uy