We love seeing our graduates in the different fields in F&B. In our latest alumni story, we feature Gia Cordero, a graduate of Diploma in Culinary Arts &Technology Management (2022).
Her first job after graduating was at Cafe Fleur, an establishment led by Chef Sau Del Rosario. Later on, she made the shift from working in the kitchen to a more corporate setting— as a culinary specialist in Century Pacific Food Inc. We talk to her about what it’s been like so far:
1. What excites you about your role and the projects you are working on?
2. What convinced you to study at CCA Manila?
3. What was your time like at CCA Manila, and what would be your highlight?
4. How has your education helped you?
5. What’s your advice to culinary students entering the industry?
6. Where do you find your culinary inspiration?
7. If you could prepare one dish for someone, what would it be?
8. What’s your favorite kitchen hack?
9. What made you switch from the kitchens to a more corporate setting?
10. You’ve had some great experiences at your current workplace. Take the example of working on a campaign with Pia Wurtzbach and meeting Chef Heny Sison. What was that like?
What excites you about your role and the projects you are working on?
I work at Century Pacific Food Inc, as a Culinary Specialist in the culinary department and test kitchen. The brands that we handle are Century Tuna, Swift, Argentina, Angel, Birch Tree, Hunts, 555, Ligo, UnMeat, and many more.
What excites me while working in the culinary department is that we also style them other than making new recipes for certain brands I mention. Food Styling is more about making the dish look pretty and presentable on the camera. So we do a whole shoot for that— learning the tricks on how to make the food look appealing, delicious, and fresh in the camera. So those photos present well on tarpaulins, billboards, social media posts, and websites. It is a different pace than in the restaurant. It’s different from the restaurant kitchen and even the kitchen in school.
What convinced you to study at CCA Manila?
I studied in CCA for the kiddie boot camp for the summer around 2004 or 2005. It was an excellent extracurricular for me during that time, learning new things in the kitchen. Since then, I’ve wanted to take up the higher courses in CCA and be a chef when I grow up. CCA is not only the best culinary school; they have the best instructors helping, molding, creating, and mentoring their beloved students.
What was your time like at CCA Manila, and what would be your highlight?
I entered CCA August Batch 2016. During that time, we had teams like Meal Masters, Kitchen Kings, Gastronomic Gurus, and Culinary Champion, and we will all compete for the Clash of Clans, the culinary cup.
We would also have Clash of Clans ball night and a sports fest. I took the Compre ( aka the comprehensive exam) as well. The kitchen classes were super fun.
I was able to improve myself while I was at CCA. I became the president of the Meal Masters and the student council president as well. I met my best friends, and I also met my future husband at CCA, Pong Lee.
How has your education helped you?
My education at CCA helped me with the everyday aspects of running a kitchen. Before I entered Century, working in the restaurant was a big help, and that’s where you will see if you learned a lot from school. The chef instructors’ teachings during class are almost equally the same but with fewer mistakes made. You will realize that CCA’s education is far more advanced than the other culinary schools. I guarantee it.
What’s your advice to culinary students entering the industry?
My advice to culinary students entering the industry is to enjoy the experience. Enjoy and soak all the learnings because I learned so much from the chef instructors that I considered them my mentors and family. Another piece of advice is to be kind and patient always. Making good dishes takes patience.
Where do you find your culinary inspiration?
I find my culinary inspiration from simple cooks at home and my past self. I’ve always wanted to be in this moment, and I’m already here living it. I just need to keep working hard and keep myself grounded to keep myself on the right path of improvement as a chef and within.
If you could prepare one dish for someone, what would it be?
I would cook salmon with cream sauce, or an excellent sous vide roast beef.
What’s your favorite kitchen hack?
My favorite kitchen hack is putting the peeled garlic in a food processor for chopped garlic.
What made you switch from the kitchens to a more corporate setting?
I wanted to explore more about what a chef can do. In my last job at Cafe Fleur, I was part of the kitchen team, doing administrative work and purchasing ingredients in a restaurant. Since I could do that, I wanted to see what a corporate chef does and how they do it. I was curious because I didn’t know anyone who is a corporate chef, so I became one. My goal in life is to put up a restaurant with my fiance and be able to run it.
You’ve had some great experiences at your current workplace. Take the example of working on a campaign with Pia Wurtzbach and meeting Chef Heny Sison. What was that like?
I was just on my third day of working with the company, and I was able to meet Pia Wurtzbach. It was such a surreal moment that I never thought would happen.
I also got to meet Chef Heny Sison. Working on the campaign took a month to complete. First, we did shoots for the advertisement, one with Pia and another for Century Tuna. That’s when we, the chef/culinary specialists, come in and food-style the dish.
It takes a lot of patience because just the tiniest detail that doesn’t make the dish look appealing can be seen in the photo. The tricks and secrets for food styling take practice which I am still learning.
If you have a similar culinary dream, check out the Diploma in Culinary Arts & Technology Management or talk to us.