I am a forever student.
I feel as if I can boast that I am a student of LIFE.
Does that make sense? As I have gotten older, I realize just how little I know, and when I meet an expert that I can learn from, it’s easy for me to get lost in asking questions, and tapping into that person’s expertise so that I can learn from their experiences as well. Sometimes, Nino accuses me of being intense in that fashion…it’s ok. I’ll own it. I’m from NY. I was born intense.
So, with that being said, I can admit without reservation that I have yet to master anything in this lifetime, except how to LOVE. Yes…I can admit that I know fully well how to love…
I love many people and things in my life, but one love that I know which was passed on to me from my momma was the love of cooking and entertaining. When it comes to cooking, I merely enjoy spending time with others in the kitchen. I have picked up on a great many things from spending time in the kitchen with many of my friends. From informal Thai and Indian cooking lessons, to just whipping up something good because we were all hungry, I have always learned new tricks, tips, and dishes from the people I know and care for, and spend time with regularly.
Imagine what more I would learn, if I actually enrolled in a short course?
Enter Global Academy…
The first time I heard about Global Academy was when our very good friend, Jay Saycon was teaching there. Nino and Jay are childhood friends. They have enjoyed their friendship from watching their dads race together, to being in NY together while Jay was studying in CIA (which was only a stone’s throw from our place) and to now raising our kids together (and having the honor of being Ninang to Jay and Claire’s son Rocco.)
I know that Jay enjoyed his time teaching and turning out culinary professionals while he was facilitating classes in Global Academy, and I also know that even if Jay is now on his way to opening his second successful restaurant, he will always be a part of the “Global Family.”
I met Chef Rob Pengson awhile back as a Pharmaton Life Charger. I had known of him before that, because he is a well known celebrity chef. Even with his celebrity chef status, he is still one of the most down to earth people I know. I follow him on Instagram and appreciate the change he facilitates with #amomentwellspent. He is married to an equally established pastry chef, Chef Sunshine. Together, they are a force to reckon with. Complete with a string of well known restaurants, as well as one of the leading culinary schools in which they are hands on in teaching, and curriculum.
I met Anna through Bikram and Crossfit. I was in awe of her strength and commitment to her health , and thought it was the sweetest thing that she and her husband Benny were so fit because they worked and played together. (much like Chef Rob and Chef Sunshine) It wasn’t until later that I figured out that Benny was a chef as well, and that Benny and Rob were childhood classmates. They came together to put up Global Academy, and share their love of all things food, by educating Filipinos with culinary aspirations, all over the Metro. These are people are the personalities BEHIND this largely successful culinary school.
Global Academy is the only culinary school that can boast 4 separate locations in the Metro. Educating Filipinos since 2007, they have continuously provided opportunities for their graduates to move on to restaurants, hotels, and other premier establishments all over Asia. Some of their students have even competed and won awards in both local and international competitions thereby putting Global Academy on the map to be internationally recognized.
In fact, Global was the first Filipino Culinary School to be awarded The World Association of Chefs Societies (WACS) Recognition of Quality Culinary Education. This means that the school meets the rigourous standards and requirements to receive this honor.
AND did you know? The Goose Station, is fully staffed with only Global graduates? Just check out some of the delicious dishes that they churn out of their kitchen. Goose Station is our go to restaurant to celebrate. It’s really a treat when we eat there with my sister, Maria…
A photo posted by Michelle Aventajado (@mommanmanila) on
But I want to share the real reason why I write. While as much as I enjoy cooking and baking and entertaining, and serving my family and friends all meals and dishes I prepare with my own two hands, I am no Master Chef. I’m merely a girl who likes to have fun in her kitchen…and learn new things.
This is why when Chef Erika from Global, approached the SoMoms for an exclusive workshop where we would pick up some new skills in the kitchen, we all agreed it would be a worthwhile endeavor. Through their short courses offered for students of all ages, one can learn fundamentals in the kitchen without having to enroll in all the classic and intensive courses that Global offers for hopeful professionals.
Through Epicurean Lab Lifestyle Courses, students can choose the dishes and classes that they are interested in as well was enjoy the ability to work closely with well known chefs who are willing to collaborate with Chef Rob to share their knowledge in a way that is completely different from before. No more “guarding of secret recipes,” but instead collaborating to inspire all those “students of life” who would like to improve upon their base skills and/or learn how to move around in the kitchen even as a novice.
Together, with The SoMoms, I acquired a plethora of new skills to arm me in my own home kitchen. I will share some of the tips and tricks I learned from Chef Erika as well as share the healthy recipes she passed on to us during our exclusive #SoMomsWorkshop.
This was the menu we decided on together with Chef Erika:
- Whole Roasted Fish with Herb Sauce
- Citrus Braised Chicken with Turmeric served atop of Mediterranean Rice Pilaf
- Carrot Zucchini Muffins with Almonds
Thanks Cai for uploading all the recipes for us 🙂
Through our casual conversations while Chef Erika was teaching us, I was reminded of quite a few tips and tricks that I don’t think I have ever taken the time to write down while sharing my own recipes. Some of what she shared I knew, and was happy to be reminded of, while a lot of what she shared was new information and learnings for me that I will pass on to you simply because I love that you are reading and learning from my sharing 🙂
TIPS and TRICKS in the kitchen:
- When using dried herbs instead of fresh, cut the amount called for in HALF. Dried herbs are much stronger and intense in flavor than fresh herbs.
- For the Mediterranean Rice Pilaf, you can substitute the Cracked Bulgur Wheat with Quinoa. Both of these grains are available in Healthy Options, AND I have seen them in S & R as well, but much bigger bags…
- Store both your Bulgur Wheat and your Quinoa in the ref so that it will last longer. (I do this with my chia seeds as well.)
- When starting with Lemon-remember you cannot take away what you already add…start with less and in this case less is more…
- Italian Parsley = Flat Leaf Parsley
- Remember to ZEST your citrus BEFORE juicing 🙂
- Julia Child shared that you can wrap your grater in plastic to save all that extra zest you might miss…then when you need it, remove the plastic and add the zest to your recipe with ease.
- If you don’t have a cover for your frying pan that you will braise your chicken in (for the braised chicken recipe) USE FOIL!
- When baking-sift your dry ingredients to avoid lumps in your muffins.
- Always use an egg bowl. (I do this religiously.) An egg bowl is where you will crack your egg before adding it to your batter when baking. You do this to avoid adding shells to your batter (if they end up in there when you crack the egg) and to avoid putting an old or rotten egg into your batter if you are unlucky enough to get one in your carton.
- Egg yolks that are a rich orangey-yellow mean that the chicken has a diet rich in corn.
- You can substitute the oil in your muffin mix with browned butter if you like (YUMMM)
- Other options for your muffin mix can be carrots and pineapple, raisins, blueberries, lemon zest…the possibilities for this recipe are endless…you just have to think of what you enjoy and swap out the options for something else.
Other things I learned:
- While I enjoyed the process of watching Chef Erika clean and scale the fish, I realize that I LOVE the fish monger for this job. There are just some things that are better left to the experts rather than me fussing with it at home.
- Same goes for meats. I would much rather the butcher cut up my meats and chicken so that it’s ready for me to cook without me breaking a sweat.
- I want a ceramic knife. But I will be the only one who will touch my ceramic knife. Chef Jay Saycon already warned me that it’s very fragile and if dropped will break easily. So, that means none of the helpers can touch it. (#sorrynotsorry)
- I reinforced how much fun I have in the kitchen with friends. AS IN. SUPER.
If you would like to inquire about the classes that Global Academy offers not just for professionals but for every day moms, dads, and kids-like us, check out their website, Facebook page, and Instagram.