Champion chefs

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Sunday, August 3, 2014

THE JPark Island Waterpark Resort and Spa culinary team diced, chopped, and cooked their way to becoming the overall champion in the recently concluded Cebu Goes Culinary 2014 cooking competition held at the SM City Cebu Trade Hall.

The competition, a biennial event of the Hotel, Resort, and Restaurant Association of Cebu (HRRAC), is a dynamic forum that will put to test skills in artistry, creativity and speed in cooking, cake decorating, table setting, and bar tending, among others, in the spirit of healthy competition and camaraderie.

The unique dishes whipped up by the 11-member team, headed by executive sous chef Russel Abarquez, wooed the spoons and stomachs of the panel of elite judges namely: the iconic Glenda Barreto of Via Mare fame; chef Myrna Segismundo, a notable member of the Philippine Culinary Team; Penk Ching, highly decorated pastry artist culinary master; chef Norbert Gandler of ISCAHM and Aubergine; chef Sandy Daza of Celebrity Lifestyle Network; and chef Sau del Rosario.


After two days of enduring several elimination rounds, cooking under time pressure, and drumming up “unexpected” ingredients, the JPark Culinary Team was named “Overall Champion in the Battle of the Toque” and in the “Professional Category,” garnering four gold medals, two silver medals and one diploma.

“This victory is very phenomenal considering that our team was able to participate only in seven categories out of the 16 and most of my members were first timers,” chef Russel said. “I guess the key ingredient was the incredible teamwork shown by the team and the unwavering passion combined with hard work.”

The competition was a tough one, physically and creatively demanding. But the team hurdled it smoothly. Three young ladies—called the Chef Wars, namely, Debbie Jean Arancillo, Jay Ann Amores and Eulalyn Ycoy—will represent the Visayas Region for the national competition in Manila on Sept. 23.

“Everyone enjoys being part of a winning team, but if you want to succeed as a team it’s important to maintain an open line of communication. This means that every cook in my line is free to make suggestions and share their ideas. It’s doubly important to be self-motivated, driven, setting realistic goals, and most of all support one another,” chef Russel explained.

Cooking and eating are two of life’s greatest pleasures, and when you enjoy doing these you are already a winner. Anything more than that is one big windfall.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 04, 2014.


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