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Back to the Kitchen

Cooking and baking adventures for the whole family


By Paulyne L. Fermin

  • KIDDIE CREATIONS My confident little chef presents the day’s menu

  • FAMILY BAKING A great bonding activity for the brood

  • BOYS COOK, TOO Chef Dan supervises the work of this junior chef

  • MASTER PIPER Chef Carla Asence demonstrates how to decorate a strawberry shortcake

  • SWEET TREATS We made strawberry shortcake, chocolate chip cookies and red velvet cupcakes from scratch

    I’ve always had a passion for cooking and pride myself in being a self-taught baker. As in any craft, kitchen skills are honed by constant practice, countless trials and plenty of errors. The satisfaction for me comes in the appreciation I get from family and friends who have tried the meals I’ve prepared.

    This summer I made it a point to enroll my kids again at The Maya Kitchen. Their first foray in cooking class last year was such a fun learning experience. Both got their hands dirty, learned to slice and dice and fry and blend. This time was no different.

    Maya Masterpieces

    Chef Carla Asence made the four-day culinary course most enjoyable for the young participants. Before entering the state-of-the-art kitchen, each class began with games like Decorate-The-Cake where kids used colored pens to spruce up their empty cake canvasses and Pass-the-Candy, a relay game using spoons as batons. “Teacher makes the class very interesting,” my daughter R said. “She sings my favorite Disney songs while she cooks!”

    On the first day, the kids made rosemary cream pork chops, classic clubhouse sandwich, and oreo cheesecake parfaits. On the second, creamy broccoli chicken pasta, crispy roasted chicken cheeseburger quesadillas, and chocolate banana muffins. Day three and four’s lineup included Hawaiian fried rice, beef sukiyaki pork, shrimp fried dumplings, spaghetti carbonara, sandwich sushi, and blueberry cheesecake.

    The main instructor demonstrates step-by-step how a dish should be cooked.  A camera hooked to a big screen ensures that everybody can see what’s going on in front. There are also two assistant chefs who help the children in executing the recipes. From preparing the ingredients to sautéing, deep frying, and flipping meat cuts in front of the hot stove, each child gets a turn in the process. The parents, on the other hand, get to watch the work of their junior chefs from behind a glass divider.

    After the children are done cooking, the instructors divide the food among the group members. They can either eat it out in the dining hall or pack it in containers to be brought home. On more than once occasion, one or both of my kids would go out of the kitchen and let me taste whatever it is that they are working on.  I could see their excitement and pride in their dishes.

    On the fifth day, the whole brood bonded over baking. The Mother’s Day-themed family course gathered five families inside the kitchen. We made chocolate chip cookies, red velvet cupcakes, and strawberry shortcake from scratch. My teenage son took his measuring and mixing chore very seriously while my daughter kept on popping ingredients in her mouth on the sly.  It was a proud moment when our cakes came out perfectly from the oven. Piping the icing was a challenge. My son and I made round even peaks, while my husband and daughter tandem made small short ones.  My OC button was flashing red but the order of the day was to have fun and have everybody participate in the activity.  Each of us made our own contribution to the final product. With effort, patience and much love, we managed to come up with a beautiful strawberry shortcake. It tasted delicious, too!

    We’ll definitely be back next year!

    The Maya Kitchen will offer a series of cooking and baking courses by local and international chefs the whole month of June. It is located at the eighth floor of Liberty Building, 835 A. Arnaiz Ave., Makati

    02 892 1185 or 02 892 5011


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