Chef Chalene Okina, Kitchen Manager and R and D Specialist, The Penthouse 8747

AHA has been my home for years. The laughter, the tears, the tardiness, and everything in between. Sounds bizarre, but even though I wasn’t the ideal student back then, they never gave up on me.

AHA is not your typical culinary school where stereotyping kicks in, the discipline we had back then would be like what real cooks and chefs experience inside a real kitchen. Basically, no spoon feeding was allowed and you have to have your ways lined in accordance to the school’s policies, and because of those rules – it set my foundation in this industry, and up to this date, that’s how I train my cooks. With the guidance I had from my instructors back then, I was able to reach my dreams one step at a time.

AHA has taught me to be keen with details – everything you jot down in your pocket notebook will eventually help you in the real kitchen, especially the basics. They also taught me about independence – they treat us all as if we are inside a busy kitchen with 200 dockets flying out the board.

If you want to be a professional chef, and you are looking for a school that is easy, then AHA is not for you. But if you want to be surrounded by professional people who truly knows what this industry is made of – I highly recommend AHA.

I am truly grateful that I am a product of AHA. It has been a rollercoaster, but I will never forget what my instructors gave me – A chance. A chance to reach my dreams.

Remember – discipline is key. It will never be an easy journey, but everything will be worth it in the end. Hard work truly pays off.

Chef Chalene OkinaKitchen Manager / R&D Specialist
The Penthouse 8747
Associate in Culinary Arts Alumna,  Batch 2013


Chef Ronnie Caoile’s (Executive chef / Partner of Bespoke Day Lounge)

I did not study Culinary Arts until I was at the age of 28 and was tired of working 9 to 5 in an office. I needed something more challenging where I can do what I love to do, which is to eat and cook. Growing up in Los Angeles, I was exposed to different kinds of cultures and food from Asians, Hispanics and Europeans, which made my decision to study Culinary Arts very easy. As we all know that Culinary Schools in the U.S cost a lot of money, which more likely take at least 5 to 10 years to pay off after you graduate.

Food has always been passion, from watching my mom cook in the kitchen to watching Emeril Lagasse on Food Network. I was lucky enough to be enrolled in a Regional Occupational Program in high school at the age of 16 that sent me to Marriot Hotel for training in the kitchen. At that age, I saw the challenges working in the kitchen from long hours, blood, sweat and tears. I also saw how a brigade has to work as team in order to complete the task from Baking to Plating.

There are tons of Culinary Schools to choose from all over the World. I was lucky enough to be mentored by Chef Philip Golding in American Hospitality Academy. My days in culinary school were not that easy, having to wake up at 5am everyday and learning the basics of working in a professional kitchen. I learned how being prompt, organized and proper grooming are very crucial when it comes to working in a kitchen.


Chef Sara Lecciones – Del Puerto, Head Chef of Research and Development for Greenwich, Jollibee Foods Corporation

Anyone can learn fundamental kitchen skills from any school of culinary arts. What sets AHA apart is the discipline that they inculcate in you by immersing you in diverse kitchen experiences that simulate the hardships and pressures in a real-world professional kitchen environment each and every day.

This intense discipline instilled in me the most important values I now have as the Head Chef for Research & Development of Greenwich, a subsidiary of Jollibee Foods Corporation:

Humility to take on any task needed, no matter how unglamorous – During my short stint in Singapore in addition to my usual kitchen work, I washed dishes and scrubbed the kitchen floor when we were one man short. I’ve realized that each and every task in the kitchen, no matter how small, is important in what I do as a chef.

Excellence in the face of intense pressure – I’ve learned to use the sound of my head chef shouting at me at the top of his lungs to push my limits and put out my best work each and every time.

Punctuality and preparedness – There is no time to slack in the kitchen and the pressure never goes away. Each task should have been done a few seconds earlier. This is something that I’ve grown comfortable with since my days as a student in AHA.

So despite graduating at the top of my class in 2007, my key takeaways from AHA, more than just the techniques and the skills, on which most of my grades were based on, is the attitude I’ve developed towards my craft.

If you want to have a wholistic and immersive learning experience – an experience akin to training in a real professional kitchen – AHA is the perfect school.

AHA will equip you to be the best chef you can be.

Chef Sara Lecciones-Del Puerto
Head Chef of Research and Development for Greenwich,
Jollibee Foods Corporation


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.

Chris Neary CEC, CCA, AAC


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.


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


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


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