AICA (Academy for International Culinary Arts)

Bloggers in AICA Cooking Party: Thank you achi meyan for the pic πŸ˜€

Yesterday, an exclusive 10 lucky bloggers were given the opportunity to have a cooking party in AICA or Academy for International Culinary Arts in The Gallery, Mabolo. Chef Johann Young is to be thanked for this wonderful opportunity! My experience here made me want to say this is the Best Cooking School in Cebu!

We started the cooking party by having some clips shown to us by Chef Nikko Mabugat. Then we were introduced to Chef Joe Mike Lontoc and Chef Marleen Ong. Their background and experience gave us all a view of how competent our teachers are.

Chef Joe Mike

After we had our little introduction they brought us to the main kitchen where we were divided into two groups. The first group was going to do the Quesadillas. This happened to be one of my favorites so I decided to join this group. My mom on the other hand decided to go to the other group where Chef Marleen was, because they were going to make Churos with the delicious chocolate dip. (note: this is the first time mom ever accompanied me to a blogging event)

The Quesadillas students

The kitchen was somewhat like a surgery room. We were provided with cool aprons and then we had to wash our hands real well. They used paper towels to avoid transferring of bacteria in the usual towels. Then we were provided with a chopping board, a knife and some vegetables.

Chef Joe Mike giving the initial instructions for chopping

One of the things I learned was how to chop vegetables. Apparently you need to make your guiding hand in the form of a claw then chop your way through the vegetables so that you won’t cut your fingers in the process.

Chef Joe Mike demonstrating the chopping process

The smell of the different vegetables coming together was just heavenly! And I have to say it wasn’t just the smell, it also had to do with the color. Such wonderful colors coming together in one bowl.

Chef Joe Mike doing a chopping demonstration of another vegetable

I realized that there were so many ways to cut vegetables. And boy was it no easy job. They even had cutting measurements written on the white board! Fortunately we didn’t have to follow it. While chopping away I decided to take a peek in the other kitchen where my mom, Vernon, and Novell were.

Vernon and Mom

Chef Marleen teaching mom

The Churos Chefs

And so after all those chopping and chopping and chopping, we were able to come up with the salsa!

My colorful salsa πŸ˜€

Then again we should not forget the lovely Chef Nikko who did the cooking of the actual Quesadilla (but Chef Joe Mike did the meat of the Quesadilla). She entertained us all with her wit and her tales from the kitchen. She’s had her share of battle scars.

Chef Nikko Checking the pan if it’s hot enough

We also learned some cool new things like when you’re holding a hot pan you have to shout “Hot hot! Behind you!”. But AICA did not want us to eat just Quesadillas and Churos. Chef Joe Mike prepared us a delicious Main courser which still was of a Mexican theme.

Chef Joe Mike working his magic

The smell was driving everyone crazy. If we were not blessed with the gift of reason we would have pushed each other away and devoured the delicious food still cooking on the pan.

Team Quesadillas!

The food that blew us away

All our hard work paid off as we all gathered our salsas together in one place and voila! We have the variety of salsas according to how we want it to be.

Salsa Variety

Then we all proceeded upstairs to have wonderful Mexican Fiesta!!! There was more food than expected. In fact, we couldn’t finish it all. There were Churos everywhere! If I weighed at least 50% lesser than what my current weight is than I would’ve devoured all Churos in sight.

Churos with chocolate dip

And don’t forget the delicious Mexican Surprise by Chef Joe Mike:

The Mexican Rice was delicious!

And thus the feast begun. You would know if the food is really good if the people eating it are all smiles. And yes you can definitely see it in their hungry faces.

The Hunrgy Bloggers nomnoming away

In the beginning of the class we were told that if we behaved then we will have a special Margarita drink from Chef Nikko herself.

Chef Nikko doing the drinks

The Tequila shots

Chef Nikko with the mixer

Mary Angeli with a shot


This is by far the BEST FOOD EVENT I’ve ever attended. The school is definitely a unique one. Normally you would have the idea of a cooking class where there’s a cooking teacher with some few ingredients to cook some home made dishes.

This one however, is what you can say “is just like in TV!”. You’ve got Chefs, like REAL chefs with actual experiences. You’ve got a cool Large Screen TV for class. You’ve got two cool kitchens with quality materials for cooking. The whole place is complete! The place is sparkling clean!

The teachers are wonderful. If you don’t know anything they won’t think you’re ignorant. As what Chef Nikko said, “I’m favorite student at the start is the one who knows ‘zero’, absolutely nothing!”

AICA just opened up last March 16, 2010 and enrollment is currently ongoing. They have 5 month courses and 12 month courses and they also have 16 sessions for Fundamentals.

Why do you need to go abroad to learn from the best when the best is right here in Cebu and right now.

Find out more by visiting:AICA Culinary

A photoblogger in his twenties, Johnn’s advocacy is to share photos to the world. He loves freediving, birding, reading, eating, travelling and meeting new people. He is usually game for anything new and interesting. You can follow him on Twitter: @Photoblogger

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