FOR 25 years the Center of Culinary Arts (CCA Manila) has garnered accolades and credentials from around the world for its excellence in innovative culinary education, as well as advocating Filipino gastronomy.
Throughout that time, it has produced thousands of graduates who are now part of the global culinary industry as chefs, entrepreneurs, and educators.
“We are excited and [at the same time humbled to arrive at our 25th anniversary]. CCA Manila has endured through time and continues to be the leader in transforming Filipino talents in the kitchen into world-class culinary professionals,” says Dr. Veritas F. Luna, CCA Manila’s chancellor for education. “We remain positive that the school will continue its role as a leader by celebrating this milestone.”
True to its commitment in providing quality education, CCA Manila has implemented some “e-nnovations:” transforming innovative practices from the kitchen and into the digital realm. With this, the school continues to host virtual competitions and monthly webinars highlighting Filipino cuisine.
Partnerships and programs were also strengthened, such as with ROUXBE—the largest online culinary school in the world, and with Korean Food Promotion Institute by delivering authentic Korean cuisine classes. There are also partnerships with the Department of Trade and Industry for the Hybrid National Food Fair, as well as TikTok to promote Pinoy food to a global audience.
The school continued to offer programs and open opportunities for students to continue culinary education in the new normal, with the latest innovative programs applicable to the current situation, such as the innovative Bachelor of Science in Entrepreneurial Management Major in Culinary Arts, implemented in partnership with the University of Asia and the Pacific, as well as the relevant Culinary “Agri-preneurship,” done in partnership with the University of the Philippines-Los Baños.
There is also the ProChef Plus Certification Program, and the Food Entrepreneurship Masterclass, among others. All these are supported with a strong business approach, encouraging students to be bold, creative, and entrepreneurial.
“CCA Manila not only served as the pioneer in excellent professional culinary education in the region, but has pivoted the food and tourism hospitality to a robust industry through the generation of dedicated and competent culinary professionals,” said Luna. “Going virtual is also one of the prompt changes that CCA Manila [has adopted], as we digitized the business processes for better efficiency. We also revived the alumni association, as well as reorganized the CCA Manila team for sustainability.”
TO commemorate CCA Manila’s Silver Year of Cooking for the World, CCA Manila has prepared several events to mark the occasion.
A major one is a five-day virtual festival that will feature an exciting series of webinars where students, teachers, alumni and food-industry experts will get together to showcase Filipino cuisine, gastronomy, and heritage.
As a kick off, CCA Manila has invited Representative Christopher de Venecia, chair of the Special Committee on Creative Industry and Performing Arts, as well as notable food-industry leaders such as Ige Ramos, Nicole Ponseca and medical anthropologist Mike Tan to talk about Filipino gastronomy and talent.
On November 18 foodie and best-selling author Angelo Comsti with CCA Manila’s Public Relations and Business Development Director Ana Beatrice Trinidad moderated the “Pambansang Chef” webinar, which was packed with insightful subjects such as “Filipino Gastronomy and Heritage Policy,” “Sustaining Cravings for Filipino Food,” “Pride of Filipino Gastronomic Roots,” and “The Important Role of Filipino Diaspora on the Promotion of Culinary Heritage.”
For “Pagkaing Atin, Ihain Natin,” CCA Manila has invited known food leaders who will share their experiences on ways they can promote Filipino culture and history around the globe. Connecting to Filipino gastronomy, the storytelling through food was held on November 25.
Entree Pinays, a collective of entrepreneurial Filipinas introducing Filipino cuisine and culture to the hearts and minds of Australians, discussed on the same day the manner of promoting the unique flavors of Filipino cuisine, which is still underrepresented in Australia.
Chef John Buenaventura, named executive chef at the newly opened Hilton Abu Dhabi Yas Island, will share how he has been rediscovering Filipino heritage dishes and promoting them globally; while Chef Gelo Guizon will highlight the power of social media, specifically TikTok, and how he uses this platform to advocate Filipino cuisine to today’s generation.
Ambassadors and alumni
RECOGNIZING the excellence of CCA Manila’s “ambassadors,” there will be a demonstration of both modern and traditional Filipino dishes by the center’s alumni on December 1 at 2 p.m. The event is a cook-off among graduates of CCA Manila who are well-known in the food industry: Chef Allan Briones (chef de cuisine at The Peninsula Manila), Chef Migo Razon (executive chef of Sheraton Melbourne), Chef Pauline Sarmiento (owner of a bakeshop and home-cooked foods restaurant), and Chef Sonny Mariano (corporate pastry chef of Tasteless Food Group).
On December 2 at 2 p.m., the “Clash of the Clans: Culinary Competition”—one of the highlights of the 25th year celebration—will take place. Groups of CCA Manila students will compete among themselves in a face-to-face Filipino-cuisine competition in the meat, plant-based, seafood appetizer, and cheese-based dessert categories.
An alumni homecoming on December 3 at 10 a.m. will feature special awards such as “Pandemic Hero,” “Culinary Social-Media Influencer,” “Filipino Cuisine Champion,” and “Chef-preneur in The Time of Pandemic” for deserving recipients.
The registration period for the series of activities has already started with limited slots. Aside from the access to the five-day virtual event, this online festival includes a digital cookbook with 25 Filipino cuisine recipes from CCA Alumni, webinar certificates, cooking-demo recipes, and 25 free culinary eBooks from the CCA E-Library.