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How This Culinary Org Prepares Student Chefs to Succeed in the Real World

There's also work outside the kitchen!
IMAGE Courtesy of Culinaire

Culinaire, Enderun Colleges’ premier culinary organization, trains its members to excel in the culinary world. It hones their skills, as well as provides them with opportunities to learn from the best and explore different aspects of the industry. Here’s exactly how it’s been preparing aspiring chefs to succeed in the real world.

1. It immerses them in the business side of the industry.

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Culinaire has various events where members run an establishment and cook the dishes. Pop Up, for instance, finds students taking over Enderun Colleges’s Restaurant 101 in Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City. Students are in charge of the menu, financing, and restaurant operations. “This is my favorite activity because it exposes you to real kitchen work,” says Martin Visbal, Culinaire’s president. “From recipe testing, costing, controlling the budget, and taking care of your employees (in this case, our members)—I was able to do all of those in Culinaire.” Meanwhile, Gabriel Augustine Santos, the org’s executive committee trainee, shares, “I learned the importance of proper costing and financial projections to ensure our funds are well distributed. This means we’ll have the right amount of ingredients and that our Pop Up is profitable.”

Culinaire also has a booth at the school’s sports festival, Titans Week. It serves dishes that it believes will sell in the Enderun community: rice bowls, hotdog sandwiches, and soft-shell tacos. Recently, it sold gourmet burgers for P100 to P200. “We still try to maintain the high standards we are known for as we strive to earn money,” says Martin.

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2. It instills teamwork and professionalism.

By working together toward successful events, Culinaire members learn to be team players. According to Marcky Yuvienco, the org’s internal vice president, for Pop Up, the president is the head chef, and he delegates the different tasks and duties to the members. Different teams are assigned to the meats, vegetables, sauces, and side dishes; some members serve the guests; and the president plates each dish before it’s sent to the customers. All of them clean up after.

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Martin states, “Successful events require working with different people, including those you may not be close with or even like. Still, you must be professional and handle the job at hand. Thankfully, Culinaire members are easy and fun to work with.”

Although not an officer yet, Gabriel does a lot for the org. “I have worked day and night with the executive committee to make sure every activity we plan will push through efficiently and effectively.” He adds that apart from proper planning, the help of other Culinaire members has been crucial to successful endeavors. “The quality of the members outweighs quantity.”

3. It helps students be more mindful of food’s impact on people.

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Even if they’re trained in the business side of the culinary industry, Culinaire members have also become more aware of the importance of food in one’s wellbeing. Martin cooks for other people. “I love the fact that I can change a person’s mood with the food I make,” he says. Gabriel shares the same sentiment. “Each dish I make is inspired by experiences in my life. I want to share these with the people around me. I want to not just fill people’s physiological needs but make them happy too.” He adds, “Cooking is beyond work and filling the stomach. It’s an art. It has always brought people together, and it’s been integral to our survival.”

4. It’s humbling.

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Culinaire members express their creativity (and themselves) in the food they serve, so they’re opening themselves up to praise and criticism. Marcky reveals, “The guests at Restaurant 101 know that Pop Up is a special event run by Culinaire, and they go there to find out what we’re capable of creating. So far, the dishes we’ve served at Pop Up have been well received. We still get comments on how the dish can be improved on, though.” They all need that feedback to do better next time.

At the other end of the spectrum, culinary students also have to deal with people who disregard their art and hearing others say “Luto-luto lang ‘yan.” According to Martin, the industry is “physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually exhausting.” He explains that people in the kitchen work long hours every day and are underpaid, while still being expected to warmly serve others and meet their requests. This compels Martin to treat his peers (and future kitchen staff) well to keep them on board. It’s no surprise then why Culinaire uses the profits from the Titans Week food stall to treat the 20 most active members to dinner anywhere in the metro.

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Stephanie Shi
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