30 Dec 2010
At the sound of a buzzer, 35-year-old Roger Sumalpong starts pressing rice into shape in his left palm, adding dabs of bright green wasabi paste and quickly placing slices of mackerel on top of the rice, completing one sushi after another.
In less than 15 minutes, he finishes a mouth-watering menu of sushi and sashimi to the amazement of his culinary students at the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA).
Who would have thought that Roger, once a salesman is now an expert chef, adept in all kinds of international cuisine? Thanks to TESDA, Roger can cook a mean French Escargot stuffed mushroom dish just as he can whip up an authentic Spanish Callos.
"TESDA helped me get a second chance at a new career in cooking. I'm very grateful and content that I enrolled in their culinary course," Roger said.
Although he didn't immediately land a job in restaurants and hotels, TESDA still afforded him a chance to be employed as a chef when they got him as a laboratory chef.
"After taking up and finishing a short culinary course at TESDA's Center for Advanced Training in Food and Beverage Services Inc.(CATFABS), I applied for jobs in various hotels and eateries but I wasn't accepted right away. But that didn't dishearten me, I knew that I needed more experience and I needed to hone my cooking skills,” he said.
“What's good about TESDA is that they'll give you a lot of opportunities for growth and opportunities. If they see you that you are determined and hard working and you need a job, they'll hire you. Now, I'm a laboratory chef at CATFABS," said Roger.
Roger is actually an accredited trainer of TESDA. He is also one of the members of TESDA's Board of Directors of Culinary Arts and Food Provider Experts Multi-Purpose Cooperative (CAFPE) from which the Chef Bert and Company Cuisine(CBCC) was born, formed and established by CATFABS graduates.
Sumalpong is also the chef- in- charge of CBCC, which is presently operating its first stall at the Cartimar food court in Pasay City. CATFABS aims to create a food service that gives delectable but healthy food.
Roger said he immensely enjoys his job as a culinary trainer, imparting the skills he learned from TESDA to the students.
"For me, it's not just learning the recipes by heart, it's also about learning hospitality for the guests, the true skills of a chef who knows how to handle the stress at the tension- filled kitchen counter, the routine. All of these I learned from TESDA. It was not just getting a diploma it was about getting a real world sense of things, " Roger said.
" I can say that TESDA sets the standard for world- class Filipino chefs."
He said he still harbors the dream of working overseas, like his friend Jayson Quimpo who is now working in Alberta, Canada as a chef.
It was through Jayson that he learned about the wonderful opportunities for a chef/cook in other countries. Jayson took the same course and after landing a job at Heritage Hotel. After gaining some experience, he tried his luck abroad and now works as a chef receiving at least $1,000 in Alberta, Canada as a chef.
TESDA Director General Joel Villanueva said there is a high-demand for jobs in the field of culinary in countries like US, Russia, Germany and Europe.
"There is a growing demand for Filipino chefs abroad. Pinoy cooks can match the culinary skills of other nationalities and we even surpass them. A career in the culinary field promises financial security," said Villanueva.
That is why TESDA continues to groom would-be chefs who would like to pursue a career here or abroad.
" We commit to set the highest-standards for our students. At TESDA, the students receive quality culinary training and we have the CATFABS that really aims to level up the skills of aspiring Filipino chefs, " Villanueva said.
Roger, an education graduate, advised people who are not contented with their careers to keep an open mind and try other fields.
"I've been an accounts manager of a mattress company for so long, It didn't make me rich nor fulfilled. I contemplated on treading a path on a culinary field and I pursued it. I knew I made the right decision. It gave me more opportunities and I was more happy at an any age, it's never too late to pursue a second career," he said.
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