Lemuria Restaurant and Wine Bar at Arya Plaza BGC holds a secret. While we know it for its fine dining fare, wine pairings, and impeccable service, it also houses a Center for Culinary Arts (CCA) test kitchen.
In fact, it was the setting for the recent “seafood soiree” tribute to Chef Auguste Escoffier, who is regarded as the father of modern French cuisine.
Escoffier is so renowned that a school and a culinary organization are named after him. The Institut Culinaire Disciples Escoffier (ICDE) is based in Hong Kong and is an affiliate of Disciples Escoffier, a culinary arts association with over 25,000 members in 26 countries, including some of the world’s most respected chefs.
CCA’s partnership with ICDE has paved the way for a six-month program where students can learn the fundamentals of culinary arts.
Ana Beatrice “Bea” Guerrero-Trinidad, PR and business development director of CCA and the Cravings Group, described the Disciples Escoffier Diploma in Culinary Arts program as “a masters on French technique” as it lets graduates earn three diplomas.
“One from the French Ministry of Education, the next is from CCA, and then from ICDE,” she said.
For chef Jean-Francois “Jeff” Brouck, head instructor and a CCA-ICDE master chef, the new program is a good foundational course as they go through the basics of French cuisine.
“It’s [a] very good [program] if you want to have good foundation. After this, you can really build and start a career,” he said.
But the three-diploma program is not only for those starting out. Michelle “Mich” Ibay, one of the CCA-ICDE student chefs, has been in the industry for 11 years and currently manages the company that caters to the Philippine National Police (PNP) nationwide.
She noted that most culinary courses in the country are focused on baking and pastry. Having learned about CCA-ICDE, she decided to try the program right away.
“I went for it without second thoughts,” Ibay recounted. “For me, ICDE is the best program in the country, especially for someone who’s really into cooking and who wants to [learn] in a fast-moving kitchen.”
“With the ICDE diploma, it’s going to open global opportunities. Add to that the CCA diploma, and the French diploma. It’s huge,” she gushed.
The “seafood soiree” tribute to Escoffier not only highlighted French technique but also immersed ICDE students in a working kitchen and all the pressure of service.
True enough, the 4-course media dinner was prepared by the CCA-ICDE student chefs – salmon tartare on a pool of leek vichyssoise and topped with ikura and a soft-boiled quail egg; seared Hokkaido scallop on a bed of cauliflower and white truffle mash, garnished with a Parmesan biscuit and dressed with hazelnut butter dressing; steamed flounder with prawn mousse on Asian greens and a curry emulsion; and infused tea pineapple with lemon cream and meringue.
A seafood specialist, chef Brouck created the menu with the intent of working with local ingredients.
While he sourced his scallops in Japan, he said it’s because the scallop dish is his signature.
“I love working with local [ingredients]. It is fresher,” he shared. “The starter, it was not supposed to be salmon, but tuna. But we use what is fresh.”
For more details about the Disciples Escoffier Diploma in Culinary Arts program, visit the CCA website.