My so called Culinary Journey...
If I’ll take a trip down memory lane, my book of “career dreams” will unfold that of being a Lawyer or Journalist to being an IT Professional or Psychologist. But becoming a Food Technologist? It did not even cross my mind in my youngster years. Even though I was surrounded by the culinary skills of my father’s clan and the “must be inherited” recipes of my grandmother, I would rather see myself in a trial court defending a case or out in the field doing media report than immersing myself in the science of food.
Back in my high school days, I can recall vividly how much I enjoyed practicing my rebuttals for a school debate with my grandfather. But the aroma of my grandmother’s delicacies and the influence of my mother’s craving for the cooking shows (especially that of Wok with Yan), reined supreme. At the age of eleven, my grandmother honed me with an early training to Food Entrepreneurship. While my grade school classmates spend their summer vacations playing, I got myself busy putting up my mini food kiosk in front of my grandmother’s noodle house (a modern day name for what was commonly known then as “Ma-mian”). I remember waking up at the crack of dawn just so I can join with my aunt on her daily market trips. She was destined to be one of my culinary mentors. With her, I managed to get used to my day to day market errands – of choosing the best banana for a yummy turon and tasty banana cue, of making sure we were among the firsts to go for “Manang’s” (old lady) home made rice delicacies, of selecting the freshest fruits in season such as green mango, turnip, santol and watermelon among others. Together, we made sure the ingredients for my luscious “samalamig” (sago juice) were not missed in our market list. This is the repertoire of my humble food stand.
What’s more, I got a sideline by working as one of the crews in grandma’s noodle house. Because of that, I had myself get accustomed to the aroma of noodle dishes such as Beef Mami, Chami, Pancit Canton and Pancit Bihon. Likewise, I learned how to make a flavourful Bulalo Soup and cook some family favourite native delicacies.
And so, it shouldn’t be any surprise really when I found myself queuing in the UPLB campus getting enrolled in the Bachelor of Science program in Food Technology. Far-flung from any of the professions I earlier dreamed of. Years after that, I became a “Professional Food Servant”. Now working as a Product Development Specialist for one of the country’s leading FMCGs, more and more my culinary journey is becoming exciting and fulfilling. If there is but one culinary challenge where I find great joy in taking, and is considered to be more taxing than contributing goods to consumers’ baskets, it is the challenge of raising gourmet kids. And that again is another journey.