Savory reports from fun school cook-off | Inquirer News

Savory reports from fun school cook-off

12:12 AM December 09, 2014

Judges visit a “house” to check out its offering.

Judges visit a “house” to check out its offering.

It was an Olympics of flavor when the four “houses” of the Center for Culinary Arts (CCA) Manila faced off recently for the finals of the CCA Cup on the CCA Oceana campus at the SM Mall of Asia complex in Pasay City.

The second Clash of Clans, had four student “houses”—Gastronomic Gurus, Meal Masters, last year’s winners Kitchen Kings and eventual winners Culinary Champions—fighting for the honor of having its name placed on the base of Impy Pilapil’s Aroma trophy for one year (the champion does not get to take home the prize).


“We announce the categories one month in advance, so they have one month to prepare,” school operations manager Liza Morales said. “It’s not only the practice; what’s more difficult is the conceptualization.”


Morales said, “If you visit the display area, you would see that these are not your usual plates of let’s say, kare-kare.” Eleven expert judges made sure the houses went beyond mere cooking.

“It was actually full of fun, but the preparation … was very stressful, very tiring,” Johan Movido told the Philippine Daily Inquirer. Movido, who competed in the Eats Korea, Modernized Korean Cuisine Set Menu and Buchi Creations challenges for Culinary Champions, said contestants had to juggle classes and preparations for the finals.

The houses competed in 13 categories: Plated Appetizer; Hot Cooking-Sustainable Local Seafood; Hot Cooking-Beef Short Ribs, Poultry and Lamb; Freestyle Pasta, Quick Fire Salad, Modern Asian Cuisine, Wedding Cake, Plated Desserts and Movido’s three events.

An extra challenge was the use of “surprise ingredients” announced only during the finals. The houses also campaigned for votes among netizens by uploading their entrées on Facebook and Instagram.

The future chefs cooked in front of an audience of mostly high school students, who also attended talks on food and branding by experts, like Adolf Aran on trends in the food and beverage industry, public relations and marketing expert Amor Maclang on marketing and branding, and culinary writer and restaurateur Amy Besa on introducing Filipino food to the world.

“Many students now are interested in the culinary arts as a profession and they want to learn the process, they want to see live cooking. They want to take pictures, they want to experience a chef’s day,” Morales said.


Selected students from Metro Manila even participated in the Eats Korea challenge, Movido said.

Morales explained, “We ‘adopted’ (the high school students). For the modernized Korean category, there were eight competitors—four were CCA students and four were from … different high schools.”

The high school students received 20 hours of free training from CCA, she said.

“They’re cool. They’re already good at cooking,” Movido noted. “They have joined the competitions so the … skill is there … some may have only basic skills but they are fast learners.”

The high school students were nominated by their respective schools. They were then asked to write essays.

Morales said: “All of them said they liked to cook, they wanted to cook … it’s easy to say, ‘I love to cook,’ everyone can say that. But when they start telling stories about this recipe of cheesecake and this is how I do it … then you know there’s something there.”

Even if he did not qualify, Rogen L. Yebe, a senior food technology student at Eulogio “Amang” Rodriguez Vocational High School, told the Inquirer that just by seeing a contestant hurt himself as he rushed to complete his chore, he learned the importance of focus and grace under pressure.

He said the event also inspired him to continue dreaming about becoming a chef even if he could not afford the training right now.

For Movido, the lesson was patience. “Everything is possible if you have patience … if you want to challenge yourself to improve and keep on working and progressing in life.”

Movido won two silvers and one bronze. His house won the CCA Cup this year.

“For the grand prize champion, there’s a cash component and then there’s also an appliance set. There are prizes from sponsors … but [the prizes] are not really substantial…. It’s really [about] bragging rights,” Morales said, who was chancellor of the defending champion before her promotion.

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Aside from the goods, Movido and the rest of the team are now CCA Cooking Ambassadors, so the patience just became his legacy.

CCA Cup winner Culinary Champions, with  Badjie Trinidad, CCA CEO (4th from right),  coaches and judges

CCA Cup winner Culinary Champions, with Badjie Trinidad, CCA CEO (4th from right), coaches and judges

TAGS: competition, cooking

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