Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Hello Cebu City

I’ve been staying here in Cebu for more than a month now. You might expect me to write about the places I’ve visited, the restaurants that I’ve tried, and the food that I’ve eaten. There will be time for that. This blog post is about my journey to the province and the job that I’ve chosen to spend the next few months of my life or maybe even years.


There are a lot of things to ponder – the job itself, the recipes and the lessons, the blog and the future. But I realized that I have to live one day at a time. And for the past three weeks I attempted to write something for the blog but I am undergoing a writer’s block. And the same goes when I’m making an effort to contribute dishes for the final dinner at the school for the graduating students. I am actually experiencing hindrances of ideas and creativity, and not even happy with the flavours of the food that I’m making (oh yes, the kimchi). Is this normal? I thought that if you love what you do, ideas would flow like a river and cooking would become second nature. It didn’t happen to me. Where’s the passion? Where’s the enthusiasm? Where’s the inspiration? And I did it again, doubting myself about the things I could do. Don’t you hate it when that happens? This is the setback of not being able to work for years. And another difficulty is, I am always hard on myself, sometimes to the extreme, and people think that I am a perfectionist. But I have to learn to be good to myself and that I am a worthy to receive and experience that all the good things life has to offer.

 A beach at Marigondon

I’ve also attempted to go home many times during my stay here. The voice of passiveness whispered to pack my bags and go home. But the voice of adventure encouraged me to stay; make mistakes and take more risks. Just breathe, let go and be open. It’s okay, because nobody is going to judge you. Working in a professional kitchen again (in this scenario, a school kitchen) feels peculiar. The irrational fear is evident as I have an on and off relationship with cooking even until today. I honestly felt conscious while preparing and cooking food with other people but not that terrible to set off a disaster.

The beautiful thing about Cebu city is the people. Oh yes, the people are really nice. I may not speak their dialect yet but they are making an effort to speak to me in Tagalog so I could understand them. But it would still be a great advantage if I could speak to them in Cebuano. I’m also staying with my friend’s brother and his beautiful family who has made my stay here as pleasant as possible. They have taken me trips to the mountain and to the beach, and have fed me till I’m abundantly full. The Young family has been really accommodating and the teenage daughters Jamie, Jackie and Janine are really warm and friendly. Blessing!!

At the Bistro, the school's training kitchen and restaurant

The school has also moved to its new building and own permanent location which is run by a husband and wife team, Chef Jeremy Young and Chef Fatima Tan-Young , whose expertise and attention to detail is apparent by providing the crème de la crème of the ideal culinary school to the team and the future students. The International Culinary Arts Academy of Cebu (ICAAC) is purposefully and specifically designed for a culinary school where the layout and the blueprint of the building, the training rooms, the on-site training restaurant, and the kitchen facilities (they have the best equipments) are created to be workable and efficient compared to culinary schools who are just renting a building. The school is still under construction but it is up and running ready for the next batch of new culinary students coming in. The progressive state of the school is not only for the future of the students but also for the benefit of the environment. ICAAC is going green by using 90% LED lighting and recycling rain water too. The school is also starting a food compost program soon and the growing of herbs and certain vegetables are already in the works (by the the young and talented Chef Justin Mechill, one of the chef lecturers) 

I’ve been busy; although not crazy busy these past few weeks. I’ve been acquainting myself with the school and the remaining classes and practical exams for this semester as well as a lot of reading and studying. Being focused is sometimes one of the hardest things to do. I am also preparing my lessons for my natural nutrition class and a project is at work that I cannot reveal at the moment. And for the rest of the culinary classes that I’ll be handling in the future, I really have to take it one day at a time.  I cannot learn all of it at the same pace without ever experiencing it first. I’ve talked myself out in doing this (many times) but if I don’t do it now, it will never happen. It’s either I quit or I face my fears. And every day, each class is going to be a surprise with new challenges and different expectations. I have to stay in faith.

My life has been an open book ever since I started this blog. They are bare enough for me to reveal my vulnerabilities and my weaknesses, yet still reserved to guard my personal life. But by acknowledging my flaws and liabilities to the whole world, I am also allowing myself to step into my greatness. I know I have yet to discover my talents, skills and abilities that are still dormant and yet ready to be developed into its full potential. I hope that the late bloomer (yours truly) is now blooming.

Love and light,