Our culinary scene is evolving. Food business is as vibrant as the young men and women who aspire to be chefs. With the staggering cost of pursuing a culinary career, those with limited financial resources can only “dream” of obtaining a diploma or a career as a chef. But the culinary career, which was out of reach several years ago, is becoming more attainable and affordable with the entry of several culinary schools in Cebu City.
Taking a step further to provide a platform for quality programs that can open life-changing opportunities and are affordable to as many Filipinos as possible, business man Ivan Spencer Lim of Davao city took over an existing culinary school in Davao City and renamed it “Salt & Pepper Culinary Institute” he envisions to be the people’s culinary school. With the initial acceptance in Davao city, Ivan decided to branch out in Cebu City with his long time friend, Jun Cantal. Thus Salt & Pepper Culinary Institute opened its doors to Cebuanos last month in Jamestown Square, Mantawi Drive in Mandaue City.
Chef Richard Hao can very well relate to those who aspire to be chefs since he worked his way through to acquire his expertise from a mix of formal schooling in culinary arts and a Bachelor’s degree in Hospitality & Restaurant Management at the University of Sam Jose Recoletos where he teaches now. His desire to bring the culinary arts to those with limited finances can be fulfilled by becoming a part of the “people’s culinary school”. He is joined by several industry-tested “chefs”: Radisson Blu Cebu’s Coke Semblante and Deofrey Vistal; Sam Colinares and Grace Marquez.
The Opening of Salt & Pepper Culinary Institute was a preview of what to expect from the kitchens. The Cocktails were served with Chef Hao’s ceremonial mixing of his now famous Mango-Sago dessert, which was featured in a recently concluded Mango Festival in Mactan Newtown. The mini Burger in Blackened Buns was tasty and flavorful. Chef Coke explains that ground beef sirloin was used and the bun was rendered black with activated charcoal. The Lechon Spread on enseimada dough bread was something delightfully different. The Mini Quiche was just as delicious. I must say that the finger foods served had a touch of refinement that can only be achieved by expert hands! The Lemon Meringue Tartlets had thin delicate crust, smooth and creamy lemon filling topped by torched meringue. My 10-year granddaughter Sabrina who was with me wanted to taste the Cake Pops filled with coffee liquor but had second thoughts due to the alcoholic filling. She had her fill of mini burgers and Chicken Teriyaki Sate. She loved the Mango-Sago!