Chef Bambi L. Lim-Bangwa’s dream of getting invited to one of the world’s highly coveted conference in the international culinary stage just came true when she was invited last August 4 to 8 in the American Culinary Federation Convention at the Orlando World Center of Mariott Hotel in Florida, USA.
The ACF Convention is organized by ACF, the premier professional chefs’ organization in North America since 1929 with more than 17,500 members. ACF is also the leader in offering educational resources, training, apprenticeship, competition and programmatic accreditation designed to enhance professional growth for current and future chefs.
“There were around 1,300 chefs from around the world who were invited to this prestigious event, and I found out that I was the only Filipino. I felt honored that they also want me to become a member of the organization,” Bangwa recalled.
She then shared how she rubbed elbows with the who’s-who in the culinary world including her inspirations 3 Michellin star chef Marco Pierre White, the ace of cakes Duffy Goldman, and Dashi King Ivan Orkin. She also saw how this international group of executive chefs, faculties and leaders in the industry get to review and validate new culinary trends before they get released to the public.
“I was amazed with all the new trends. I realized that we have a long way to go, especially here in Mindanao. But I know that we can do it as well,” she said.
Bangwa mentioned that the local industry is too “tied up with traditional ways.” “We need to explore new ingredients, infused new and rare ones as well. At the ACF, they showed us how to incorporate vegetables in desserts to promote healthy living, ” she said.
Incidentally, that is also how she is running Le Culinaire, their two year old culinary academy, an offshoot from St. Alban’s College, located along Chavez Street.
“We do contemporary culinary training as our mode of teaching. We always push our students to be creative and innovative, ” she said.
Bangwa also enforces one-on-one coaching as a more effective way of teaching. From the perspective of a culinary educator, she believes that’s the only way one can maintain the quality of students.
“If there’s a mistake in the process, I get to do corrective action immediately,” she explained.
This uncommon way of teaching translated to their recent win as grand champion in “Dayo Kadayawan Cook-Off,” a cooking competition based on the cuisines of the ethic tribes of Davao.
“We did chicken nilotlot of the Bagobo tribe. I learned before that when competing, the dish must not be ‘too artsy’ and you must stick to the flavor – clean, simple but given a modern twist. In our case, we made sure the flavor of ginger and coconut milk must stand out,” she shared.
Her methodology must have impressed ACF so much that they have confirmed their visit to Davao City on February 2020 to accredit Le Culinaire as their first property member in Mindanao (after Manila and Cebu). ACF also affirmed their annual sponsorship for 25 student scholars in the Culinary Institute of America.
“Everything will be subsidized, and when our students graduate, they will be called ‘Culinarians’ and will have the luxury to work anywhere they want. This will surely bring positive change in Davao’s culinary sector,” she said.
Their school is also open for internship programs in the US. Their students, half of them flying to the US in October, will undergo internship with pay for a year in any Marriott, Hyatt and Radisson hotel.
As part of her advocacy, Bangwa is planning to do a lifestyle cooking demonstration to various sectors in the city. She will also be opening a branch of Le Culinaire in Tagum next year, then in General Santos and Digos cities, where she will allow her gradates to train as teachers.
“We may only be 2 years old but with our achievements, we seem to have gone a long a way. That’s why I always tell my students to work harder and be among the best because that’s the only way to go,” she added.