grub + travels + perspectives

Academy of Pastry & Bakery Arts Philippines

I love desserts. I love pastries. Every meal is never complete without something sweet to end it. Whenever there's a new cupcake/eclair/macaron spot in town, I'm there. My blog sidebar can attest to that. I like to try out the newest dessert craze in town: cronuts, cupcakes topped with macarons, milk and cookie shots, salted caramel everything, and all that jazz, but I will never pass up the chance for goodies like quiches, canolis, pies and empanadas. Pastries, both sweet and savory, are something I love. 

But my passion for pastries end there. I don't know if you could even call it that because my so-called eagerness never really reached the point where I actually thought of making the desserts myself or where I actually researched the science behind the baking. When I got the opportunity to cover the opening of Academy of Pastry & Bakery Arts last August 5, I figured maybe this is some sort of omen that it's about time to venture to into the world of baking.

The Academy of Pastry & Bakery Arts Philippines is under the flagship of the Academy of Pastry Arts Malaysia and is co-founded by world-renowned chef and MOF (2000) recipient, Jean-Francois Arnaud. I honestly had no idea how prestigious the award is until I looked it up and saw this article on Facebook. You're basically King of Pastry when you receive that award.

Chef Jean has worked in Michelin-starred restaurants and hotels and has participated and won numerous awards in artistic pastry, chocolate showpieces, and sugar arts competitions. His recipes have appeared in top pastry publications around the world like the Thuries Gastronomie Magazine and he has also participated in salon de chocolate, creating chocolate dresses for fashion shows. He has also served as Technical Director of the Ecole Nationale Superieure dela Patisserie (ENSP), which is recognized as the best pastry school in France. He came to Malaysia in 2009 to serve as international consultant for brands like Fonterra, Haagen-Dazs, Club Med group, and the Academy of Pastry Arts Malaysia. Wow. That just speaks volumes for this institute!

Being the first ones to arrive, we were given the chance to meet some of the in-house instructors of the academy. The first pastry chef we met was Jess Chiam Ko Seen--one of the Executive Pastry Chefs at the academy. He was busy finishing the desserts on the table but was very accommodating to answer all our queries regarding the length of preparation for the desserts. Ironically, most of the fillings of the desserts take the shortest amount of time to prepare. It's the decorations (that perfect chocolate shaving, the little golden leaves or tiny butterflies on your dessert) that take a week or two to make.

Pastry Chef Tan Wei Loon, Assistant Pastry Chef Tay Chee Siang and Assistant Pastry Chef Chong Ko Wai

We also had a short talk with their Public Relations and Marketing team, where they answered all of questions regarding the enrollment, the instructors, the curriculum and other offerings of the Academy.

Managing Director Niklesh Sharma and Master Chef Jean-Francois Arnaud (fourth from left)
with the previously mentioned pastry chefs
Chef Niklesh Sharma, AP&BA's Managing Director, meanwhile, is the former Executive Pastry Chef of The Renaissance Kuala Lumpur Hotel. He started his career in 1997 at the Rajvilas, one of the best resorts in the world, and has been an opening team member of luxury hotels and resorts in India. He is very well-traveled and has trained under some of the best pastry chefs, MOFs, and world pastry chef champions in the world.

He is also a multi-awarded chef and has worked for top hotel and resorts groups like the Oberoi Resorts, Carlson Group, Tai Fort Aguada Hotel, Tai West End Hotel, and The Renaissance Kuala Lumpur.

During the media conference, Chef Niklesh pointed out the main reason for starting the Academy here: the lack of specialized pastry schools in the Philippines. Sure, there are a lot of culinary schools nowadays but none focuses solely on pastries and baking. Plus the fact that at least 20 Filipino pastry chefs come to AP&BA Malaysia to learn the ropes in the industry. So that's definitely a big market opportunity.

"First, it's about the taste and second is about the decoration." This is what Chef Jean told us about how pastries should really be. He shared that he saw a lot of beautiful desserts made during a competition he recently judged, but he cannot taste anything. "In the Academy, for sure, we will put the finger on the taste first because the students need to know what's the best way to have the base cake before layering, glazing -- you need to taste it. The artistic part is another story. It's not the first thing we want to teach." Chef Jean said.

The core of the Academy is not only to inculcate to their students the skills needed to be an excellent pastry chef but to instill knowledge and confidence as well. Chef Niklesh further said, "We want to provide an organized and structural training for students looking for a career in the hotel industry, pastry shops, and those who want to put up their own businesses."

An added bonus is that they assist students with future employment options since months before the course is finished, they forward students' resumes to different hotels and establishments. "In the next six to nine months, our students can be at par with seasoned hotel pastry chefs in the Philippines," Chef Niklesh said confidently.

There are absolutely no requirements (certifications, degrees, the works) before enrolling to their classes. Well, as long as you're 17 years old and above, and have a good grasp of the English language, feel free to register. The Academy will teach you every little thing you need to learn from the basics of baking to the complex ones like wedding cakes and sugar arts. I was particularly enthralled by this information because as much as I love pastries, I don't have any background on how to make them!

For those interested, the Academy of Pastry and Bakery Arts Philippines is offering full-time and part-time (weekend) programs. The full-time program includes a 3-month certificate course in pastry and bakery and a 6-month diploma course in pastry and bakery. Both programs will run for 12 weeks and graduates will receive an international certification from the City & Guilds of London Institute. The part-time weekend program will run for 12 weekends with a new topic to be covered each week.

Chef Guillaume Lejeune (Director of Pastry Studies) and Chef Jean-Francois Arnaud

For more information about the Academy of Pastry & Bakery Arts Philippines, you may visit them at the 4th Floor Metro House Bldg., Gil Puyat Avenue, Makati City.
Contact Nos.: +63 917 203-9089 / +63 947 755-8979
Official Website: www.academyofpastryartsphilippines.com
Official Facebook account

This blog post also appeared in UrbanTribe.ph.