Meet Julia Sobrevega, DCATM student and first-time taker of the comprehensive exam.
Julia Sobrevega is one of the recent students who just passed CCA Manila’s notorious comprehensive skills examination.
What is it anyway? It’s CCA Manila’s version of a board examination, consisting of two parts: practical and written components. The practical exam is a grueling two-hour period where students have to execute a three-course meal. It’s pass or fail. The written exam contains 100 multiple-choice questions. You need to go through this exam before graduating.
Every student has their own experience. This is Julia’s take.
What was it like to pass the comprehensive skills examination?
After I passed, I didn’t feel like I was done with school. Initially, I was just happy that I was able to rest well after the exam and somewhat make time for my hobbies.
After a few days, everything sank in, where it hit me, “Oh, I passed on my first take!” It was fulfilling. Considering I only had two chances to practice during the two weeks of the allotted time for us, I didn’t expect to pass, but I did. I’m relieved.
What are your practical tips on time management?
I cannot say I am great at time management. But I think it’s also my upbringing in Miriam College that made me good at procrastination. (Laughs)
It’s already in me that if something needs to be done, I must prioritize that. Most of the time, I would make a basic checklist that I could achieve daily.
A great example would be when I had to make a business plan for a marketing subject. I had to check a few chapters at a time. You see, if you sit down properly, remove all the phones and other distractions, and try to finish a task that needs to be done, you will be able to complete any job.
What’s been the best part about your CCA experience?
The people. It starts with all the talented chef instructors that CCA has. The community is lucky to have these chefs to help inspiring chefs like us grow and improve in the kitchen. They have taught us the essential value in the kitchen, which is discipline.
I have also gained many friends in CCA. I want to start with Neil; he was my high school friend and always has been with me ever since the start of my CCA journey. We were together when we checked out the CCA campus for the very first time with Sir Mark. He was also the reason why I considered CCA as one of my college options. When Neil and I took the Kitchen Discovery Course (CCA Manila’s practical entrance exam), I also met Kuya Karlo and Kuya Dan during KDC, which until now, are one of my close friends in CCA despite them being at a higher level than I am.
I’m also close to Gia and Pong, recent graduates of CCA, and I met them through Clash of Clans (COC) and the quiz bee during the pandemic.
Lastly, I wouldn’t forget my classmates that I’ve worked with throughout the three years in CCA, especially Ate Rica, Gar, and Jonas. Even if my original batch is not complete anymore, I am glad to say that I’m still lucky to have these three incredible people beside me, literally through thick and thin. I can’t mention everyone, but these people made me who I am today through all the shared memories and lessons during our time here.
It’s really about the people that truly made my CCA experience memorable. When I’m homesick and I miss my old friends in high school, I always go to them.
What’s your advice for people just entering CCA Manila?
- Listen – During lab practices, chef instructors would typically give tips and tricks through their words. They will tell you how you can improve your cooking techniques and this is something you can’t get from the Internet. It’s from the experiences they’ve had after teaching so many years and the mistakes they’ve made along the way.
- Reflect – It was hard for me to do some of the dishes because of the procedures. Sometimes, you’ll even think, “parang hindi ko kaya today” (I can’t do it today). But if you read, reflect on why you’re here, why you’re doing this, maybe it’s your passion, or you want to give back to your parents, you’ll start to think, “I have to do this well because I have a purpose.” So even if sabihin mo sa sarili mo, “kailangan ko lang matapos itong recipe na toh, o kailangan ko lang matapos tong eclair na toh para makapasa ako,” (you just tell yourself that you need to finish this recipe or you need to finish this eclair to pass)eventually those little successes and those little wins in life, it will make you realize that those things matter, not only the big stuff.
- Adapt – You may feel like the pressure is on you and a lot of people are better than you. But, one day, you will understand that all you have to do is learn and adapt to the environment. One example is when I was a student assistant in a hotel in Makati with Chef Philip John Golding, CCA Manila’s Culinary Director. I was anxious in the hotel because it was the first time I saw a hotel kitchen work. Once I entered, I was intimidated by the people around me. As I got to know the kitchen more and prepared the ingredients, I found myself at ease. As much as possible, if you accept that you have to adapt, you will succeed, eventually, and it will be better for everyone.
Julia’s tip to avoid burnout: meditate before you sleep and let go of your worries.
Julia Sobrevega’s future goal is to be a better chef. Her next culinary adventure is to complete her 600 hours of on-the-job training. She also wants to continue learning, whether in business, financial management, or culinary. She believes that without proper financial management systems, no food business can succeed.