By ANGELO B. GARCIA
After 10 years of discussions, negotiations, and planning between two distinguished educational institutions, Le Cordon Bleu Ateneo de Manila Institute (LCBAI) is finally open.
Located at the Ateneo de Manila University’s new Areté building in its sprawling campus in Quezon City, the new institute brings a new level of prestige to culinary education in the Philippines.
Le Cordon Bleu is one of the top culinary institutions in the world and have produced numerous award-winning chefs. The partnership with Ateneo is its first venture in the Philippines, adding another to a growing network of blue ribbon culinary education. The school has around 30 institutes worldwide in more than 20 countries and 15 university partners.
“In behalf of the university, we are truly privileged to join Le Cordon Bleu, the network itself, which is a result of many years of discussion and preparation.,” says Ateneo de Manila University president Fr. Jose Ramon Villarin, S.J. “We’ve been asked how come it took so long and I would just like to put the words of André Cointreau, president and CEO of L’Ecole de Cuisine et de Pâtisserie Le Cordon Bleu] himself, once we were asking that question, he said to me: ‘Charcoal broiled is always better than microwave.’”
Both institutions have more than 100 years of experience in education. Ateneo has founded the Society of Jesus in 1859 while Le Cordon Bleu was founded in 1895 making it the oldest culinary school in the world. Coincidentally, both have the same school color.
“I like to kid that after all, their organization was called Le Cordon Bleu, how much more Atenean could they be. If you don’t get that pun, then consider this: If they have been named Le Cordon Green, I doubt very much that we will be standing around here this afternoon,” Ateneo Graduate School of Business dean Rodolfo Ang quips.
OFFERING SOMETHING DIFFERENT
There are already several culinary schools in the country and most universities offer a degree in hotel and restaurant management. LCBAI merges entrepreneurship and gastronomy in a new degree, offering a Bachelor of Science in Restaurant Entrepreneurship. This is also the first time Ateneo is offering a culinary degree.
“Our initial offering, after all, is not a Hotel and Restaurant Management degree. This is what most other schools are offering. Our initial offering is a bachelor’s degree in restaurant entrepreneurship, one that primarily is an entrepreneurship program, rather than a culinary program. Although cuisine and gastronomy are important components. We’re not training our students to work overseas. We’re teaching to mobilize their resources available to them to create opportunities and employment our countrymen right here in the Philippines,” Ang explains.
Choosing to offer the program is aligned with the core values of the university including its mission in nation-building.
“We only need to look at the national economic development strategy and see the indispensable role that entrepreneurship and tourism development play as engines of social economic growth and cultural affirmation in the Philippines,” he says.
LCBAI opened its doors to its first batch of students in August 2018. Potential students are required to take Ateneo’s entrance examination and undergo the rigorous admissions process. Along with laboratory training, students take the university’s liberal arts core curriculum like other courses. At the same time, the program has the same requirements as Le Cordon Bleu’s equivalent degrees.
“Upon graduation, our students will receive two diplomas, one from Ateneo de Manila and another from Le Cordon Bleu—a testament to the skills they’ve developed, skills which we hope they will use for the Philippines and the Filipino people. It’s an entrepreneurship program not strictly a culinary program,” he says.
The program costs around P400,000 a year or P1.6 million for four years.
BEST OF THE BEST
Ateneo has invested about P150 million to put up LCBAI. The facility covers 1,000 square meters of space at the ground floor of the George SK Ty Learning Innovation Wing inside Areté. The kitchen laboratories are equipped with state-of-the-art equipment and top-of-the-line tools. Each student gets his/her own tools like the Le Cordon Bleu knife set, stainless steel Spanish pots and pans, multiple cutting boards, and many more. Students also get their own work station, a four-burner stove and an oven.
“Thus the investment on the state-of-the-art equipment and commitment to a 1:1 correspondent student-to-kitchen work station, and a high level of selectivity in our faculty. We found our technical director in France and asked him to relocate to Manila,” Ang says.
The people behind running the schools were selected based on their expertise in the culinary world. The institute director is Liza Morales, a former hotelier, a food and beverage professional, and culinarian; and technical director chef Thierry Le Baut, who has an extensive culinary career including teaching at Le Cordon Bleu New Zealand.
The advisory board, on the other hand, is composed of individuals that best represent the local culinary industry. These include owner and executive chef of New Manila Myrna Dizon-Segismundo, executive chef and managing director of Cyma Group of Restaurants chef Roby Goco, president and CEO of Disttillera Limtuaco Olivia Limpe-Aw, president and CEO of Chef Jessie Restaurants chef Josefina “Jessie” Sincioco, owner of Tamayo’s Catering Steve Tamayo, and Jollibee Food Corporation country business group head Joseph Tanbuntiong.
LCBAI campus in Rockwell Center in Makati City will commence construction this year. This is a bigger campus and offers diploma and certificate programs like Diplomme de Cuisine, Diplomme de Patisserie, and Grand Diplomme.
“It is very ambitious what we want to do here in the Philippines with our two world, the management Ateneo the level of excellence also n the culinary world, the University of Ateneo is opening itself to the world of skills and competencies education, which by the way would be the trend more and more and all of the universities in the world are to merge higher education with vocational side of training and education,” says André Cointreau.
Le Cordon Bleu Ateneo de Manila Institute, ground floor George SK Ty Leaning Innovation Wing, Areté, Ateneo de Manila University, Katipunan Avenue, Loyola Heights, Quezon City / (02) 426 6001 local 5381.