Chef Chris Neary CEC, CCA, AAC — On Passion and Hard-Work of AHA Students

My time spent with the students and instructors at the American Hospitality Academy several summers ago is an experience I will never forget. My traveling companion ,Chef Ty and I were treated like dignitaries by everyone we met.

It was a pleasure and an honor to get to lecture in front of and work along side of such a dedicated group of young culinarians, many of who I still keep in contact with through Facebook and my daily Chef’s Start of Day email blasts.

I was particularly impressed by the level of intensity the students displayed in their daily quest for knowledge. I often talk about passion in my daily emails and will add any of you to the list that wishes to join in.

I’ll never let the crew and students from AHA escape my memories and look forward to the chance to someday return to your country.

Respectfully,
Chris Neary CEC, CCA, AAC

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Chef Dave Curaming is back in the USA.

When I enrolled in AHA I did not fully anticipate the hardships and struggles I would face.  But I am sure all students feel these at times.  I frequently battled frustrations while understanding I needed to maintain a good temperament and attitude. 

In the end, the struggles paid off.  I realized that AHA and its staff are molding their students to have a better future possible, and the struggles are necessary to our success. 

As a result, I gained a rewarding U.S.-based internship that I will treasure for a lifetime. 

I learned so much from professional and personal standpoint, and AHA set me up for that. My culinary knowledge was boosted from my graduation at AHA.  I will always treasure my education and the friends that I met during my journey with AHA.

– Chef Dave Curaming.

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Chef Vic Curso, Sofitel Dubai

I will never forget the year 2012 when I first set foot onto the grounds of this institution, at that time I was a 16 year old young man, who had just graduated from high school. One question I was asked during my admission interview that really stuck with me was “Do you know how to cook?”, to which I replied “I learned to bake cup cakes when I was 7 years old.”

Now as I embark on my journey as a chef at the Sofitel Dubai Downtown United Arab Emirates, I cannot help but to look back at my time here at AHA and remember everything that I was taught. With the knowledge passed on to me I have gone from baking cup cakes to crafting exquisite courses, but that is not all that I learned at AHA, I was taught the very fundamentals of kitchen life, that not just knowing how to cook a meal, but cooking said meal with heart.

It is with my deepest gratitude that I say “Thank you AHA, you accepted me, a naive young man with humble beginnings and gave me the knowledge and experience to pursue my culinary dreams.”

AHA, you have my sincerest appreciation, without this beloved institution I would not be where I am today. The success that I achieve now and in the years to come is not only my success but yours and everyone’s that has past through the halls of this great institution.

Middle East now, the World next!!

Thank you AHA!!!

Vic Curso
Chef, Sofitel Dubai
Alumnus, Associate in International Culinary Arts 2014

Vic Curso

Chef Nicu Dalman, New York, NY

A solid core and a deep understanding of the basics. That is what Chef Gene and AHA taught us since day one. T.V. Or other institutions would try to sell you with this idea of how glorious the kitchen life is but only AHA taught us that in order to become a good chef, you must be a well rounded cook first and that I believe is what trained me and what still guides me to this day. AHA never sugar coated anything. I remember Chef Gene would always tell us “good sauces come from good stocks” and it took me awhile to fully grasp the ideology behind it.

Cooking has been one of the most difficult things I have ever done. It is grueling and often times you question why you do it. To my fellow cooks, we don’t do it for the money or for the recognition. We do it because it is what feeds the hunger inside us and no amount of money can ever compensate for the satisfaction of a day’s hard work.

To whoever is reading this, as both a former student and faculty of AHA I cannot dictate you on how to pick the best school that suits you but I can tell you this, the reason why AHA stands out from all the other culinary schools in the Philippines is their dedication to build character and character is what earns us the respect.

“Nunc est bibendum”

Chef Nicu Dalman, New York, NY

Alumnus, Diploma in Culinary Arts Batch 2012

NIcu Dalman

 

 

Chef KR Oquindo ( Now an intern at Resort Squaw Creek, California. )

American Hospitality Academy has given me a living hell of unnecessary pressure and hardships at the kitchen. But it made me work with perseverance and determination as I take the road less traveled.

When I first started my degree in school, AHA are molding the student to become like soldiers. Wherein they follow set of standards or systems that are built to prepare the students at the reality of being a cook which are backbreaking and laborious.

First the school thought me “Fundamentals” like knife skills, cooking methods, sauces and stocks, cooking terminology and so forth. Secondly, discipline, for instances I can’t be late, uniforms should be wrinkle free, all cooking equipment must be complete, books, homework, notebooks and pen are no exception as well and so on. Lastly it made me develop my attitude and character.

To be frank, Chef Gene is like Gordon Ramsay, strict and keeps shouting at everyone, sending students home whom can’t comply to the rules and regulations of the school. Yet in the long run, he’s been simply doing this “training method” to show the students that the kitchen is not for a faint of heart rather a passion and desire to cook relentlessly regardless of the pressure that the world has to offer.

It has been an honor for me that I had survived and learned from him — his methods at the kitchen, made me competent enough to work, rather exceptionally a “seasoned chef” at the kitchen especially at the USA. Without his methods, I may not be able to handle the responsibility of leading the morning banquet at my current sponsored workplace, internship program, here in the USA.

– Chef KR Oquindo

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Chef Tamer’s

Coming from a Non Art related course, never did I think that I’ll be entering this field. Browsing on to several culinary schools, I came across American Hospitality Academy which happened to be my brother’s suggestion.

AHA helped me learn and bring out the skills that I didn’t know I have. From making all those weekly menu list needed for our Upper East duty, to those sleepless nights peeling hundreds of potatoes and filing the portfolio of the menus and demos.

Class starts at 6:45 am. But these things taught me to be more responsible, knowing my priorities and managing my time.

– Chef Tamer Hussin

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Chef Aaron’s

I never thought that I will end up taking culinary arts in college, but I don’t have any regrets at all. It feels like the most awesome thing will happen to you when you least expect it. And so I am thankful that I ended up in AHA Philippines. Not only because it made me a World Class Professional Chef but also a well disciplined member of the society.
Many people might say that Culinary Arts is an easy course to take up in college, I strongly disagree. In order to succeed in this industry, an individual must have the knowledge, punctuality, and discipline. The skills will be developed along the way.
AHA doesn’t only train students how to cook and work in a kitchen, they also train us to be disciplined in every aspect. In my experience in the school, I was lacking one equipment and they didn’t allow me attend the class. That moment served as a lesson for me to check my equipment if they are complete and be always prepared and ready for everything. AHA’s way of disciplining is unorthodox but I’ll say it’s effective and I will embrace it throughout my career.

AHA’s method of training made me perform well in my internship in the United States. Although at first it was hard to adjust because they have methods that are different from what I learned in school and so I had to adapt.

I am thankful for all the good and bad memories I left with.

I am a proud graduate of American Hospitality Academy – Philippines

-Chef Aaron Paca

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Chef Rej Casanova, Executive Sous Chef, Marriott Hotel Manila

The “AHA Philippines way” is one of the core values that I have been using in my day to day culinary journey starting from my first job as a cook and up to the ladder now as the Executive Sous Chef of Marriott Hotel Manila.

AHA Philippines  is the best place to learn about the industry, perfect your skills and knowledge, and become the culinary professional you want to be. When we were students, our chefs treat us as if we are professionals , which helped us a lot in preparation for this very challenging culinary world.

Another best thing about school is that they   provide you with every opportunity to be successful both personally and professionally. I must say that  my Internship at The Ritz Carlton Naples, Florida is one of the genuine experiences that I can truly be proud of.  Thank you AHA!

Chef Rej Casanova
Executive Sous Chef
Marriott Hotel Manila

 

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Chef Rush’s

It’s really difficult to suggest to my mom, which culinary school I should go to. But when i told her about the programs that AHA offers that other culinary school don’t have she is finally convinced that this will be a perfect training ground for me. We didn’t make a mistake by choosing AHA. American Hospitality Academy is a perfect training ground for aspiring chefs, they will help you to mold and hone your talents and skills.
Perseverance and patience, these are the things that AHA thought me. Working in a real kitchen is not easy but with the help of AHA it was a lot easier. AHA instructors are keen to detail and very strict even to the smallest details like uniform, tools, homework and attendance. This small details makes a big difference when working in a real kitchen. Thats the time when i realized and appreciated what AHA did for us. AHA don’t spoon feed the students but they let the students experience the hell kitchen can turn out to be.

– Chef Rhosher Lynn Tan.

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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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