by RONALYN BANAKEN
Renowned chef Rolando “Lau” Laudico graced the Master Chef series staged by the University of Baguio (UB) School of International Hospitality and Tourism Management on Feb. 23-24.
This year’s version of the activity included a cook-off among the culinary students of UB, critiqued by Chef Lau himself.
Primed for the only event of its kind north of Manila – which ran on its fourth year – the students were divided into eight groups during the first day, each team putting its own twist on the contest recipe: modern and traditional igado.
On the second day, the students – who were split into eight teams – battled it out in preparing ube macapuno cake leche flan dessert derived from the ube macapuno cake, which was prepared by pastry chef Jackie, Chef Lau’s wife. Apart from creating a new dessert out of it, the participants had to reconstruct the ube macapuno cake after its deconstruction. Majority of what the contenders had to work on was their creativity, which comprised 50 percent of the criteria. “Be as crazy as you can be,” Chef Lau told the student participants. “Remember, it all comes down to being imaginative; you’ve got to be resourceful.”
The challenge that the activity posed was certainly intense. Interestingly though, the students have managed to take something from each task, absorbing and replicating a high-concept restaurant’s entire ethos. It was training at its finest, with each of the students coming out better than before.
For the last three years, UB has been organizing the event, aimed at developing and packaging its HRM students into world-class chefs and culinary professionals after graduation. And for the last three years, Chef Lau – one of the country’s most respected culinary personalities – has been guiding the students.
“It’s all hard work in the end. Patience, full heart and dedication – these are what you need to thrive in the culinary world,” he said.
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Celebrity chef Lau (left) served as the competition's main judge.
Chef Lau and UB president Johann Ben Bautista (extreme right) chat with the participants during the cook-off, which is the only one of its kind north of Manila.
A team's version of the contest recipe, the famous Ilocano igado dish
Chef Lau examines a team's preparation technique.
The ube macapuno recipe prepared by Chef Jackie, which was deconstructed and later reconstructed by the student participants as part of the exercise.
A team's version of the ube macapuno cake leche flan dessert
Another team's rendition of the dessert
A third group's presentation of the dessert