TESDA chief walks the talk, now a certified barista

11 March 2012

Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) Director General Joel Villanueva showed he practices what he preaches after enrolling and completing a course on Food and Beverage Services.

With a National Certificate III (NC III) on the said qualification, the 36-year-old -Villanueva is now a certified barista, ready to whip up one's favorite espresso and make elegant wine serving.

"I wanted to show that I am the number one believer of TESDA, and help make every graduate be proud about taking technical-vocational courses," he said.

Villanueva received his certification on March 8 after undergoing an assessment that tested his skills in coffee-making and wine serving, officially joining TESDA's roster of Specialistas.

For 124 hours or close to three months, the TESDA chief joined other students in honing his skills in the Food and Beverage Services course.

Villanueva core's qualification dealt on "providing specialist advice on food, and preparing and serving espresso coffee."

For his elective, he learned about the intricacies of serving wine on fine dining and planning and monitoring espresso coffee service.

An economics graduate at the University of Santo Tomas who finished a certificate course on Business Administration and Management at Harvard University, Villanueva said this was his first plunged into a technical-vocational course.

"The food service course was not easy because you have to learn every little detail when whipping up the coffee or when serving wine," he said.

Villanueva said he learned for example that in opening the wine, the cork should not pop, unlike when opening a bottle of champagne, and the bottle label must always be facing the customer.

He said one should memorize the parts of the espresso machine and how each should be used.  Learning the art of making foam or coffee froth also requires a lot of practice, he said.

"When making espresso, there are three parts: the heart, the dark part at the very, very bottom; the body, the pretty creamy caramelly part in the middle; and, the soul or crema, the sweet froth on the top," Villanueva said.

"The dose, tamping and brewing should be perfect, otherwise, you will have a bad shot," he added.

A coffee lover himself, Villanueva was able to concoct his signature coffee, which his colleagues dubbed as DG's Drink (Director General's Drink).

Villanueva's own brew is a sweet mix of mocha, vanilla ice cream, bits of Snickers (chocolate bar), Kahlua (coffee liqueur) and whipped cream.

He said he hopes to one day serve his signature coffee to fellow Cabinet members and perhaps even to the President.

Coffee lovers would after all like nothing more than a personal barista stationed at home, on hand when a caffeine fix is needed.

And Villanueva in jest said he could just be one if he gets fired from the Cabinet.

"At least I have a fallback job. But seriously, taking the course taught me how technical-vocational courses are as respectable as the regular college degrees," he said.

"It's time to erase the discrimination on tech-voc courses because they offer quality education and better opportunity for employment," Villanueva added.

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