Can the Philippines outshine the best and the brightest chefs from the region’s top culinary institutions?
This is what Global Academy is out to prove in the upcoming Philippine Culinary Cup (PCC). Currently the only holder of a back-to-back overall champion for 2013 and 2014, Global Academy has intensified its preparations for its three-peat campaign in this year’s competition.
All set for PCC
PCC has become the country’s most prestigious culinary competition since it was first held six years ago. It is organized annually by the LTB Chefs Association of the Philippines, the Pastry Alliance of the Philippines, and PEP Group, Inc. To date, it is the only such competition in the Philippines that is endorsed by the World Association of Chefs Societies, a global network of 100 official chefs associations.
“There is no shortage of talent in the competition,” said Chef Michael Yap, Culinary Program Director at Global Academy. Chef Mike is at the helm of the preparations for the PCC. “It was tough enough to be competing with the best of the best in the local culinary industry. This year, we also need to brace for a stronger showing from international delegations.”
Philippines vs the world
The globalization of culinary competitions is on the rise. Last May at the Hong Kong Hong Kong International Culinary Classic Competition (HOFEX) 2015, the region’s grandest food and hospitality trade show, a pair of chefs from the Philippines emerged as the winner of the Highest Gold in the Live High Tea Set Category. Chef Joan Leslie “Anjo” Dela Cruz, a Global Academy graduate and current chef-instructor, and Chef Michael Madrid, a fresh Global Academy graduate, bested 23 teams from hotels, food companies, and schools from mostly Asian countries to bring honor to the Philippines.
Now it’s the other countries’ turn to bring the competition to the Philippines at the PCC. “We are excited to see how the Filipino competitors will measure up to the foreign contingents,” added Chef Mike. “Having so many talented chefs from different backgrounds and countries competing also raises the quality of the competition, and encourages Philippine teams to rise up to the challenge of defending the home front.”
The Global challenge
The challenge is, of course, bigger and more serious for Global Academy, its competing chefs and students. Come August 5, they will not only be carrying the Philippine flag, but will also be defending their back-to-back title.
Asked how they are preparing for the competition, Chef Mike said, “Practice, as always. We are doing our best to plan for surprises.” During last year’s competition, Chef Mike recalled the last-minute issues that the Global Academy contingent had to work around, such as malfunctioning equipment and unavailable ingredients. “This year, we realized that you can only plan so much. For things that you can’t possibly anticipate, you need to just be mentally prepared to think on your feet.”
Who’s got grit?
So what are our chances of keeping the championship trophy in the Philippines this year?
“The key is to first manage your nerves,” said Chef Mike. “These competitions are always intense. Especially for our competing students, the experience can be daunting and intimidating, and the pressure can be difficult to bear.” Consistent practice is also meant to teach them how to channel this pressure and use it to concentrate.
As for the competition, Chef Mike said “everyone is talented, but we would like to think we are working the hardest, clocking in the most number of hours. That, I think will spell the difference.”