‘This choice was one of the best I have ever made.’
Most Filipino culinary students dream of going to a foreign country to study food, experience different cultures, and get top-notch education from the world’s greatest kitchens. And who can blame them? There is a lot to discover beyond our shores. I mean, just looking at the most basic bread, New York bagels and Parisian croissants are tasty enough, I mean educational enough, reasons to venture out.
But this Greek chef found that the Philippines is a great place to learn and experience rich flavors and cuisines. Meet Fenia Fotiou, an alumna of the Global Academy of Culinary Arts in Makati, and a testament to the fact that learning culinary arts here is fun and absolutely worth it.
“Living in the Philippines was very different and interesting,” the pastry chef tells Manila Bulletin Lifestyle. “Overall, it was a great experience!”
Fenia’s passion for food started when she began baking during her teenage years.
“I was 21 and traveling around Australia when I decided I wanted to go into a culinary arts career,” she says. “I worked at a Greek restaurant as a party cook for four months before heading to the Philippines to study pastry arts. I have a great passion for whipping up unique dishes, cooked from scratch.”
She chose the Global Academy because it was approved by the World Association of Chefs’ Societies (WACS), a global network of chefs associations founded in 1928 at the prestigious Sorbonne in Paris.
“The school has a fast pasty program, which lasts four months, and it taught me everything I needed,” Fenia says about the Global Academy. “In addition, it was cheaper than the schools in Europe.”
The then 22-year-old started her classes in October of 2015, adding that “the choice was one of the best I have ever made.” It did help that her experience with the Philippines went way beyond the school kitchen.
During her time here, Fenia managed to visit the famous white sands of Boracay. One of the experiences she cherishes the most was when she got to experience cooking Filipino cuisine. Some of her favorites are chicken adobo, crispy pata, ginataang puso ng aging, Bicol express, and halo–halo. In just a few months she already got the palette of a Filipino.
She went on to work under Peruvian chef Gastón Acurio and his pastry chef wife Astrid Gutsche at their world-famous restaurant Astrid y Gastón in Lima. Currently, Fenia is deciding whether to start a farm in Greece or Portugal.
“It is going to be a permaculture and animal farm, which will mainly be focused on agriculture,” she shares. “I want it to be a natural oasis for people who love being close to nature. There will also be a cafe-bakery in the future. I am always passionate about food cooked from scratch.”
She looks back fondly at her time in the Philippines, where she learned about food and grew as a person. But now she is focused on taking all those skills and experiences to take charge of her culinary future.
Go fulfill your dreams, Fenia!