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Chef For a Moment at MIHCA

I enjoy cooking which I learned from my mom who is a good cook herself. She would ask me to cut ingredients — first were onions, garlic and tomatoes, then I graduated to meat and vegetables. When I was grown enough to handle the kitchen heat, I was tasked to fry and then eventually cooked soupy dishes. So when the invite came from a culinary school, I grabbed the chance. It was one great experience to be a chef for a moment.

The Magsaysay Center for Hospitality & Culinary Arts (MIHCA) held its media event dubbed “Restropective: The MIHCA Open House“, last July 29th at the their Makati facility. There I met fellow bloggers, members of the media and the academe. The institution is located at the 5th floor of Waltermart Mall in Chino Roces Avenue, Makati City. This was the 2nd branch, the other located in Manila. At a glance, the place looked like a fine-dining restaurant. You wouldn’t know that there’s a lot of things going on behind it.

MIHCA Sales Officer Mark Mello toured us in the facility which started at the hotel simulation room. The replica of a hotel room serves as a training ground for students on housekeeping. It was interesting to see how to properly dress a bed with bed sheets and to get some techniques and standard timing on housekeeping. Then we were ushered into the restaurant area. I learned that the restaurant was launched recently to give students hands-on training. The Illumine Restaurant explained why the place looks like a posh restaurant instead of an institution.

After that we stepped into where the action takes place — the kitchen. MIHCA has two big kitchens — one for training and the other for cooking food served at the restaurant. It was my first time to see all those industry-standard equipment including the stoves, oven and even the kitchen sink. The kitchen laboratory is indeed up to the standards. Same goes to the baking and pastry lab.

We were also allowed to enter the butcher room. At that time, students are busy learning to truss chicken. It was quite interesting. My name was even drawn out to participate in learning how to tie a chicken and eventually in a contest. I did not win the chicken-trussing challenge, but the experience was great. Surprisingly, the task was not as difficult as I thought it would be. A total opposite of my perception when I first saw it done on TV.

I also witnessed flairtending for the first time courtesy of Christian Ducusin, Bartending and Flairtending Instructor. Hospitality Instructor and Food & Beverage and Barista Instructor Mr. Ernie Mesina prepared an espresso and showed us how to “decorate” a coffee.

Throughout the tour, we received treats for every stop. Noteworthy were the finger foods served at the kitchen. I love the lettuce-wrapped spicy noodles. I hope I got the name right, but it was really tasty. The brownie prepared by the students of Chef Napoleon Carbonel, Baking & Pastry Arts Instructor, was really moist and good. The drinks prepared for us at the bar was refreshing. Of course, the coffee lover in me enjoyed the latte even more.

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I love the fact that the future hospitality and culinary professionals receive extensive training at MIHCA. The institution started in 2007 and has already received awards and recognition. It has garnered 11 awards at the Food and Hotel Asia 2010 at the Singapore Expo. It also received merit for their presentation of Ethnic Asian Meals and Plated Dishes at the said event in partnership with the Makati Shangri-la Hotel. MIHCA is considered one of the most prestigious hotel training academy in Asia Pacific and now has 3 branches – 2 in the Philippines and one in Indonesia.

As they say, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. After the tour, we ate lunch at the Illumine Restaurant where we got a taste of the continental inspired dishes. The entire experience was superb. The food was great. I love the soup which with ginger and coconut milk as main ingredients. I enjoyed the grilled shrimp, perfect for a seafood lover like me. But it’s worthy to take note of the level of service I received from the staff. They offered to bring my plate to the table after getting food at the buffet table. Then somebody assisted me to be seated by pulling the chair for me and seating me properly. Hats off to the MIHCA leadership and pool of instructors!

If you’re planning to enter the hospitality & culinary industry as a professional or businessperson, I highly recommend getting your training from MIHCA. I’m sure you’ll get your moneys worth with the training and experience you’ll get. In addition, the institution is affiliated with the Magsaysay Group of Companies, allowing graduates to supplemental training for the maritime profession at the Magsaysay Training Center and the Magsaysay Institute of Shipping. MIHCA is also a part of the flagship company’s People Resources Group, which means qualified graduates can be deployed in the world’s largest cruise lines, hotels, resorts & tourism operations. Awesome opportunities awaits every MIHCA graduates!

I wish there’s a way to reboot my career. Learning about this institution would have been very beneficial on a personal level. On second thought, they also offer short courses at affordable fees. I’d definitely enroll at this institute soon. I’m just glad that I got to experience being a chef for a moment at the Magsaysay Center for Hospitality and Culinary Arts.

Visit MIHCA’s website at www.mihca.com.ph to get more information. You can also visit their offices to get a general feel of what I’m talking about. Their Manila Campus is at the 3rd Floor Times Plaza Building, U.N. Avenue cor. Taft Avenue, Manila. Their Makati Campus is at the 5th Floor Waltermart Mall, Chino Roces Avenue corner Arnaiz Avenue, Makati City. If you’re in Indonesia, you can visit their Jakarta Campus at Jalan Tanjung Karang No. 5, Jakarta 10230 Indonesia.

Photos courtesy of Juan Manila Express

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