My father was the kind of person who can whip up a perfectly respectable meal from the top of his head, no recipes required. I guess some people are just born that way: they know, instinctively, which pinch of this and which dash of what go well together.
Sadly, the cooking genes did not pass on to me. I’ve always wanted to make good food–the kind that my future bibis will wake up to in the mornings and make them think of home when they’re all grown up and have families of their own. I want to discover secret ingredients and subtle touches that make a dish stand out, and pass it on like treasured heirlooms. But having neither time nor the knowledge, I have to content myself with just looking around the Internet and bookmarking recipe after recipe, and kept telling myself that “these will come in handy, someday.”
So you will understand why, when the opportunity to attend Moderne Culinaire Academy’s (MCA) opening presented itself, I grabbed the chance. I thought if I wanted to learn cooking good food from professionals, I might as well try and get my feet wet: learn which courses I can take, meet a chef or two. (Also, food!)
I was not disappointed. MCA’s building is in a strange-sounding village that sounded so far away but was actually pretty accessible (ride the MRT to Magallanes station, ride a jeepney going to FTI, and go down the village’s front gates. The school is a 5-minute walk from there). Everything looked new and the two kitchens we went to felt like something out of the Junior Masterchef’s set. I’ve never been in a real restaurant’s kitchen, but I think their Saffron kitchen in particular comes pretty close. They even have locker rooms where the students can leave their plainclothes (they have to wear a chef’s uniform when in class I guess).
We met with this amazing guy (Chef Billy Anislag) who can carve a whole freakin’ dragon out of pumpkins. Don’t believe me? Here’s proof:
I don’t know how to eat such pretty food but I suppose these would look good on a table. I wonder what people do to these when the party’s over?
Then came my favorite part: cheesecakes!!! Learned quite a few useful tips from Chef Kevin Mize on how to make the perfect cheesecake: how to avoid cracks on top, how to slice the cake perfectly. It sounds strange but the beer cheesecake he gave us tasted really good, and believe it or not, it’s not the strangest flavor of cheesecake he said he’s baked. I wanted to take a class right then and there. Imagine: cheesecakes on my birthday! Cheesecake for Christmas! Cheesecake for every freaking occasion in my life! If you can’t already tell, cheesecake is the only cake I really crave for–it’s one of the few sweet things I can eat without ever getting tired of.
UPDATE: You can try Chef Kevin’s cheesecakes at Midnight Mercato in BGC behind S&R on Friday and Saturday nights from 10:00pm to 3:00am. They always serve Dark Beer, New York Traditional, and the Chocolate Peanut Butter cheesecakes there. Chef Kevin says: “I always make one flavor of the week to add to them. Past flavors have been Hoisin Sauce, Avocado Lemon, Ginger Wasabi, and Chocolate Sili Labuyo. I am in the process of finding a good date for our next cheesecake class at MCA. I will post it on our facebook page as soon as I have a firm date.” Goody! I will attend the next class See you soon Chef Kevin!
We also got to taste some of the food made by the Moderne Culinaire staff. I didn’t get a chance to taste everything (the food was gone so fast!) but out of those I ate, I liked the Seasalt Trufle best. It’s just the perfect combination of bittersweet and salty.
MCA also offers some short courses on Spanish Cuisines, Introduction to Food Styling, etc. A full list of events and courses can be found on their website: Moderne Culinaire Academy
I think I’ll try a class or two…K will be eating some Thai food soon.