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Baking school run by world’s top pastry chefs opens in Manila

Chef baker Angelo Van Toorn and executive pastry chef Jess Chiam Ko Seen of the Academy of Pastry and Bakery Arts pose with their creations during a recent visit to The Star.     FERNAN NEBRES

MANILA, Philippines - Manila has undoubtedly some of the best culinary schools since many students nowadays want to pursue a rewarding and lucrative career in the culinary industry. But there are no schools solely dedicated to teaching how to bake breads and pastries.

Thankfully now there is. Filipinos who like to learn how to bake brioche, tarts, quiches, macarons, truffles, pralines, crème brulee, scones and all the delicious pastries you can imagine, can now have a chance to learn them from some of the world’s master bakers.

Introducing the Academy of Pastry and Bakery Arts, the first pastry school in the Philippines where the world’s top pastry chefs are the instructors.

The school is owned and run by no less than France’s legendary master chef, Jean-Francois Arnaud.

Established in August of last year, the academy hopes to train and hone the baking skills of Filipinos.

Recently, representatives from the academy, including two of its master chefs, visited The Star and brought “slices of heaven,” macarons, chocolate brownies and tarts —  to the delight of the staff.

Kim Beckley, the school’s director of operations, said Arnaud saw the potential of many Filipino bakers to make it to the international stage. Arnaud also saw that bakeshops are a thriving business in the Philippines and wants to help businessmen learn the tricks and tips of baking.

 “Mr. Arnaud said he knows that Filipinos have a sweet tooth and they love to bake. He said they are passionate in art and love to learn. Mr. Arnaud wants to contribute in their journey to  sharpen their skills in pastry art and baking,” Beckley said.

Chefs Angelo Van Toorn and Jess Chiam Ko Seen said they’re enjoying every minute of teaching their students at the academy. They noted the diversity of the students enrolled in the school.

“We have students, but we also have businessmen who take the classes because they have bakeshops and want to learn how the ropes of their business, particularly the baking stuff. Others enrolled want to work abroad,” said chef Jess, who recently won in World Pastry Cup 2015, placing fourth place,along with other chefs in the school Tan Wei Loon, Tay Chee Siang and chef Lawrence.

“They’re also very keen in learning. They pay attention and work hard,” added chef Angelo.

He said they steadfully follow directions and are passionate about perfecting their creations.

Just like Arnaud, they believe that Filipinos are talented chefs.

 At the academy, he said all the chefs are hands-on and most of the lessons take place in the kitchen, not in the classroom.

“The ratio of our instructors to students is 1: 14, for us to be able to focus and teach the students effectively. We do a one-on-one training. We have a strong program because we do most of the teaching in the kitchen,” said chef Jesse.

Classes are held from Mondays to Fridays, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The school, located at the fourth floor of the Metro House Building in Gil Puyat Ave. in Makati, has branches in Malaysia and India.

Co-owned by chef Niklesh Sharma, "the school is accredited abroad so every graduate can present his certificate abroad and it will be honored,” Beckley said.

Beckley said Arnaud is most proud of its chef lineup.

Some of the highly prized chefs include Tan Wei Lon, Chong Ko Wai Cheong Jun Bo, Tay Chee Siang, Lim Chin Kheng, Israel Lazaroo.

“Our team of award-winning chefs has grown to a faculty of many renowned chefs who are MOF, Asia pastry champion chefs and National pastry champions. Our chefs team who has been recognized as first 4 in the world Pastry cup competitions in France. Our pastry chefs lead demonstrations on the premises and around the country for pastry school and corporate companies,” said Beckley.

“All the chefs are recognized and have reputation with lots of experience in hands on training and to groom the best ready to perform student,” added Beckley.

Aside from the regular instructors, they have visiting guest chefs, like world pastry champion Ewald Notter,  Pastry chef of the year at the world gourmet summit Janice Wong, master cholatiers Lionel Clement and Christophe Morel, Molecular cuisine chef Martin Lipoo, and MOFs Pascal Brunstein, Chrstophe Redon, Stephane Glacier and Stephane Treand.

“We have the biggest visiting guest chef’s faculty in Asia, Middle East and Far East. Our visiting guest chefs are MOFs, World Pastry Champions, Master Chocolatiers, Master bakers and Master pastry chefs. They travel all over the world, conduct workshops and train students as well as professionals. The  classes are of high standards in terms of techniques and technologies,” Beckley said.

At the academy, students can enroll in a three-month course on basic certificate in pastry and bakery arts or a six-month diploma in pastry and bakery arts. There is also a part-time certificate program in pastry and bakery, which is held during 12 consecutive weekends. Students can take a six-month course for P300,000, but they are advised to take the three-month course first which costs P150,000. There are one-day courses in baking which costs P6,000.

Beckley said chef Arnaud is very excited about the school.

“I wish to continue and share my passion for this work in all its simplicity, to communicate my knowledge and awareness when it comes to the usage of products in line with the commercial demand,” chef Arnaud said.

Arnaud once served as executive pastry chef in Michelin Star restaurants and hotels all over the world.

Arnaud came from a family of pastry chefs and got his early training from the family pastry business.

For a decade, he worked  with Christian Lacoste in Toulouse catering for events  before he eventually joined Yves Thuris in Cordes-sur-ciel, where he took the task of supervising a sugar display museum.

Meanwhile, from April 17 to March 17, Arnaud will be joined by master chef Sebastien Chevallier (also an MOF), Stephane Glacier, Stephane Treand  and Frederick Haweker for the Master Class Series at the event titled “The Philippine Pastry Forum” to be held at the Academy.

There’s a science and magic to baking pastries, and a heavenly strawberry tart is a product of the pastry chef's patience in perfecting the methods of sieving, kneading and mixing flour, butter and water.

Chefs Angelo and Jess acknowledge the difficulties but believe in the talent of Filipino bakers.

“We can make star bakers of Filipinos,” they chorused.

 

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