, 2010 (STAR) Filipino chefs are fast becoming a felt need and a hot item in international kitchens due to their natural talent for cooking, artistry, discriminating taste buds, work ethic and their flair for the English language.

In recent years, the Philippines had sent almost 8,400 qualified people to kitchens all over the world, two-thirds of whom were chefs and cooks. This makes a stark difference with only 1,900 left the country in 2000 to work in kitchens abroad.

England has recently indicated the need for close to 300 chefs while Australia has signified intentions to hire more chefs and cooks. The Middle East, despite recent economic setback, continues to have huge demand for skilled kitchen staff. Cruise lines have also continued its hiring binge for new recruits.

The Philippines is also expecting huge demand for highly skilled kitchen personnel due to the influx of medical tourists in the country who will need special food preparations. The Department of Tourism announced its projection that more than 200,000 medical tourists will visit the country annually.

The apparent global scarcity for qualified cooks and chefs have driven up the salary to as much as $4,000 a month or approximately P180,000, which spells a huge difference compared to the average P15,000 salary of their local counterparts.

Seeing the demand and the prospects of a huge pay, Filipinos have started to look at becoming a chef or cook as a career. Current professionals have also started to think about changing careers midway to enjoy the perks of being a chef.

As a result, the Philippines in recent years saw tremendous growth in the number of culinary schools around the country offering various certificates, courses and degrees.

To date, more than 400 culinary schools operate around the country, which is a far cry from only one institution in 2000.

However, not all culinary schools can offer the needed skills and training to get global employment.

One culinary school that truly trains Filipino chefs to become world-class kitchen talents is the Institute for Culinary Arts and Food Service (ICF).

“Our main objective is to fulfill the dreams of our students to be employed locally and internationally, which in turn becomes their gauge of their personal and professional success,” says Ma. Paz Sales, school director.

ICF is manned by seasoned and highly experienced culinary experts and specialists in culinary arts, baking, pastry, and food service. The faculty members are a virtual Who’s Who in the field of culinary arts, having competed and won various local and international awards.

ICF offers a Diploma in Culinary Chefs Training Program (CCTP), a Diploma in Baking and Pastry Chefs Training Program (BPCTP) and numerous short courses offered in the Continuing Education Training Program (CETP) such as Basic Cooking, Baking and Pastry Production, Basic Kitchen Skills and Nutrition and Healthy Cuisine, among others.

To be called ICF@FEU, the culinary school is a joint-venture of casual dining leader Pancake House Group and respected tertiary educational institution Far Eastern University (FEU) to mold not only highly skilled but also socially and ecologically responsible chefs and food service practitioners.

Set to open in June this year, the school is housed at FEU’s Makati campus, which was built from the former Zuellig Pharma building corner Sen. Gil Puyat and Malugay Street, Makati City.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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