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Pandemic won’t stop this culinary school from opening

/ 05:20 AM February 28, 2021

Aleanza’a Culinary Education Revolution with Chef Rob
Pengson (extreme left)—CONTRIBUTED PHOTOS

Aside from restaurants, culinary schools were also greatly affected by the pandemic.

Teaching cooking is something that at some point would need IRL (in real life) presence as eating is something that is experiential.

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No matter how well you describe something verbally online, food must be tasted, smelled, even touched in order to fully experience and understand its intricacies.

Culinary and business school Aleanza Institute of Arts was just in its first few months when the pandemic struck (they opened December 2019). But chef Rob Pengson has reopened Aleanza with what he calls a “Culinary Education Revolution.”

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Safety assured

Aleanza now seeks to “combine the power of online learning with high level hands-on training.” This means that they have both online classes and face-to-face campus sessions. According to their website, they ensure the safety of students and professors using the school’s Accelerated Learning Protocol with Health Access.

To make it worth the risk, they offer “work while you study” programs. This means that their students are offered part-time work at Aleanza’s partner restaurants and get paid, unlike interns who just work for academic credits.

Aleanza also seeks to make their students experience various facets of culinary work life. The kind of work their students will get will be in fine dining at Pengson’s Beso Beso; catering at Prima Bakery and Catering (also his); at their cloud kitchen (a kind of commissary that caters to various brands); as well as in “food content production,” which is geared towards making one’s social media game better.

Pengson will be also be inviting some of the country’s top chefs to participate in his programs, giving students exposure to their creativity and genius.

Pengson explains: “We are super serious about the benefits of real world experience for our students that the academic journey is closely intertwined with our fine dining restaurant, catering services, food delivery, private chef and consultancy, and even our social media content. We guarantee to our students real world and paid practical apprenticeships in our partner brands even while still in school.”

The school will reopen on April 19. Enrollment is ongoing.

Beso Beso Private Dining

Pengson has also converted his fine dining restaurant to a private dining space.

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Since his space has several rooms, they can accommodate one group per room: the dining area, which normally seats 60, can be used by up to 30; the Harana Room seats 12; and the Likha Room and the Hinirang Lounge each seat 20.

As it is his expertise, he has two set menus: the four-course express menu, with an option to order more (some order up to eight courses); and the 12-course seasonal menu.

The latter, at only P3,900, is worth the splurge, building up from appetizers like the patatas bravas to a Chilean sea bass miso to a cochinillo paella, with a crescendo of wagyu striploin and pechuga royale (lamb breast) before ending with a lovely parfait with chocolate, fig and calvados.

If you are not yet brave enough to eat out, Pengson can also bring the menu to your home (with a minimum consumable).

If you would like a more casual setup, the chef has also launched Prima Bakery and Catering, which offers packed meals and party trays.

With the great lockdown of 2020, many culinary institutions and restaurants had to either close or pivot. Many fine dining restaurants started offering comfort food.

It’s good to see that Pengson has stuck to what he does best—the degustation—all while standing by his dream of building his own culinary institute. This is one chef who won’t allow a pandemic to bring him down.

Let’s hope this is the kind of positivity we have this 2021.

Beso Beso. 2F Aleanza Institute, 2257 Chino Roces Ave, Makati. For reservations and catering, contact 0977-348 9603. For inquiries about Aleanza Institute, contact 0915- 8755990.

More from the author at margauxsalcedo.com. Follow @marguxsalcedo on Instagram and Facebook.

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TAGS: Aleanza Institute of Arts, culinary school
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