Chef Tin Angeles, Katsuya South Beach, Miami

Studying in AHA Philippines is definitely not for the faint of heart. I remember how I found it a little weird that the interview questions for admissions included, “Do you have Hemophobia?” and “Do you easily cry when scolded?”. It felt a lot like Mrs. Cordova was trying to scare me, instead of convincing me to study in AHA. Even one of my friends who was a student of AHA at that time, told me how absurd the rules of the school are. But before you think this is one awfully written hateful testimonial, let me tell you about how AHA has helped me grow not only in this profession but also as a person. I must admit (and I never thought I would say this), I am truly grateful to have chosen to study in AHA.

When I started attending AHA, everything felt unfamiliar and uncomfortable. I have been cooking for my friends and family, long before I knew what mirepoix and mis en place mean.  I have always loved food and the science behind it, and studying Culinary Arts was initially just to gain a degree that is somehow related to my interests. I didn’t know I wanted to be a chef, until AHA helped me realize the unfathomable depths my talents can reach. I do not say this because I am overconfident nor am I bragging about what I can do, or who I can be. It is all about how AHA has given me the best foundation regardless of the path I choose to follow.

What I have learned from AHA is way beyond my own expectations. I could read Wayne Gisslen’s “Professional Cooking” book from cover to cover and still I would fail Culinary for being a minute late. I could ace the final exams knowing the standard size of a julienne is  1⁄8 × 1⁄8 × 1–2 inches (or 3 × 3 × 25–50 in millimeters), but instead I would not even get to try for the highest score, just because I’m one spatula short of my toolbox. This may not make sense to anyone who hasn’t experienced the “AHA way”. Believe it or not, it is not as bad as it sounds. These are, in fact, the things that have made me not only the toughest, but more importantly, the most responsible person I didn’t think I could be.

It was hard to follow them at first, until I realized that the rules they set are not made to give us a hard time, but to mold us into the best possible versions of ourselves. I could have gone to a different school, and could have learned through the conventional way. I could have graduated earlier; I could probably even be the lucky student giving out the graduation speech. I could have known different people, different from my AHA friends and chefs whom I now consider my family. But I chose AHA. I have chosen to stay positive during the toughest times — the times I had come to know who I am, who I was and who I want to be. I chose AHA, and I am glad I did.

Chef Tin Angeles
Katsuya South Beach, Miami, FL

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