Birthday Cook in AICA

Posted on Monday, June 13, 2011 by Mr. Tambay

I bet you will agree to this statement - The most awaited day for every person is his/her birthday. Well sorry for those who think that birthday is the day to dread about because it makes them think they are older, but I juts love it when it it my birthday.

Just so you know guys, I just had my 20th birthday last June 3, 2011. On that day, a lot of positive things happened - I got 3k from my beautiful sisters working at Singapore, received a check for my tuition refund, got to experience paying some bills for the first time, watched X-Men First Class, and a whole lot more. But what made my day complete is that I got to experience cooking first-class dishes at The Academy for International Culinary Arts.

It was twelve noon, I was paying the bills at SM when CBC Head Organizer Evanjohnn Mendoza called me up and greeted me. He also asked me if I can beat the clock and join the cooking party at AICA since 3 people backed out. I said yes and went straight to The Gallery in Mabolo where AICA is located.

There I made new friends with fellow bloggers and we met Chef Johann Young, the Culinary Program Director of AICA, and he happily welcomed us to the school. We went inside, and we were welcomed once again by Chef Vance Valeri Borja and his students - Thomas Ngo and Andoni Zalumbide.

Prawn Cocktail
We cooked 3 dishes on that day - Prawn Cocktail for the Appetizer, Beef Stroganov for the Main Course, and Deconstructed Blueberry Cheesecake for the Dessert. Among the 3, my favorite was the Deconstructed Blueberry Cheesecake because it is easy to make, mouth-watering, and a low cost dish. The cooking party was a hands-on cooking experience, and while we are cooking our own version of the dishes, Chef Vance threw out some helpful cooking tips that I managed to catch. Here are some of the easy cooking hints Chef Vance gave out that I remembered.

1. In cooking shellfishes like prawns, cooking them for more than 30 seconds is not advisable. You don't wanna eat a rubbery shrimp.

2. Slicing the back part of the prawns not only allows you to get rid of the shrimp sh*t, but it also gives an elegant look to the prawn when it is cooked. The result is like that of the puff of a popcorn.

Beef Stroganov
3. After cooking the prawns, immediately give it a nice icebath. The cooking process is not yet killed even after it was taken off the boiling water. Icebath helps kill the cooking process of the prawns.

4. Want to serve pasta quickly? Cook your pasta for at 75%. Then cook the remaining 25% when it is about to be served. This helps you serve your pasta quickly especially when there is an unexpected guest. It also prevents the pasta from overcooking. The thicker the pasta, the longer it will be cooked.

5. Beef fat, when cooked, gives that bubblegum-like feeling when already chewed. Take off the fat before you do the slicing.

6. Slice meat perpendicular to its meat strand. This helps you cut the cooked meat easily with your teeth.
Decontructed Blueberry Cheesecake

7. Season your salt on a high level. This method seasons your dish evenly. If you season your salt very near to your dish, it seasons only a small area of the dish.

8. Your ultimate weapon in the kitchen is your knife. Hone it before you start cooking.

9. The secret to cutting ingredients is gliding. Also remember when cutting, all fingers in for safety purposes. In simplier terms, do the tiger claw form with your hand.

10. In cutting onions without suffering from tears, cut the tip of the onions, peel the skin, and lastly, cut the roots. The sulfur, the substance that makes you cry when cutting onions, is mostly found in the root ara of the onion.

11. Tomato sauce is perfect for spaghetti and pasta, but it also helps the bad bacteria in their reproduction when stored for a long time. Separate the pasta from the sauce especially when it is not yet served.

12. Prepare cold dishes with cold utensils.

13. It is really dangerous if your chopping board is not stable. Place a wet cloth under your chopping board to prevent your chopping board from moving while your are doing your thing.

Birthday boy with his prawns...
Cooking my own dishes is really fulfilling and a remarkable experience for my birthday. For a not-so-good cook like me, preparing a dish that we normally thought difficult to cook is really a big achievement. It really is a great birthday gift. Thank you so much to the chefs, the students, the personnel, and the rest of the AICA Team for accommodating us. I hope someday I can enroll in AICA. And by the way, thanks to all who greeted me on my birthday.

Here's a quick info about The Academy for International Culinary Arts.
Front Brochure
Back Brochure
AICA, or The Academy for International Culinary Arts plumes itself in providing world-class culinary education since 2004. Composed of top professionals that are known in their respective fields of culinary arts, AICA's chefs not only serves as mentors to their students, they also contribute the passion and truthful enthusiasm which makes them masters. Also, their training program is designed to prepare their students for the upcoming challenges and adventures that awaits them in the culinary industry and is tailor-fit to meet the needs of every individual venturing the world of food service and hospitality arena, be they hobbyist, novice, aspirants, or professionals. AICA offers a wide array of programs to cater exactly to your culinary hunger and desire. Here in AICA, your culinary career is guaranteed!

Visit The Academy for International Culinary Arts at The Gallery, Juan Luna Avenue, Corner Golam Drive, Mabolo, Cebu City. You can call them at (032)268-5636 or 316-4828 or e-mail them at Visit their website at

Photo Courtesy of Angeli