“Skills can be taught. Character you either have or you don’t have.”
-Anthony Bourdain, Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly
Cuts, burns, lifting heavy pots and reaching for high shelves. Heated arguments with colleagues, standing for long hours in the kitchen and customers complaining, these are all parts of the daily grind of this cutthroat industry. Sounds intimidating? Luckily, there would be mentors and teachers who would be very much willing to help us build the physical and mental stamina to endure all of those.
Funny, at the beginning of my studies in AHA, I would describe myself as the “slow duck”: quiet, scared of getting cut and burned and frightened by my chefs. But despite all of these, I had the ambition the one day; I would walk out of this school the proud chef that I aspire to be. And AHA did not fail me in achieving just that and even giving me more, my mentors helped me breakout of that shell. They armored me with the right knowledge and technical abilities from food sanitation, to food costing to actual cooking and to everything in between.
But just like what Bourdain said, skills are necessary but are not enough. AHA taught us discipline, that if for example we show up late and unprepared for class, there are consequences, which is the same for the real world. They also taught us that hard work and determination is key to triumph, by letting us experience first-hand how to run a restaurant or to organize a big event. A once quiet student is now capable of leading her team to a successful service. We even had an internship here and in the USA! As I would call it, learning by experience or by practice.
Looking back, I am very much thankful to AHA for what I have accomplished. The slow duck has turned into a beautiful swan. I did not expect that I would achieve this much in a short amount of time with an added bonus of graduating with the prestigious “Culinary Distinction Award” and becoming a “Certified Culinarian” by the American Culinary Federation. But it doesn’t end here, because of this; more career opportunities have opened for me for both in the Philippines and in abroad. And for that, thank you AHA and happy cooking!
Chef Jasmine Janet Lim
Shangri-la Hotel Qaryat Al Beri Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates