Delivered by Chef Candice Maureen M. Riconalla,
Most Outstanding CIC Student of Batch 1
last July 2, 2011 First Graduation Ceremony Batch 1 and 2
Dear parents, guests, School Officers and admin staff, chef instructors, to our key note speaker Dr. Ruth Guinita-Cabahug,The Chairman of the Board of Trustees Mr. Karlo De Marcaida, and our School President , Dr. Maria Emilyn B. De Marcaida, my fellow graduates, good evening.
It was one hot summer day when a friend and I decided to buy one of my favorite Missy Bon Bon gelatos. We parked near Grand Caprice and as we walked towards the large swing doors, I noticed a poster for an open house and a cooking demo. Since then my life changed. A slow, wonderful and eventful kind of change.
I recall the first day of class when different people who barely know each other gathered in one room. 20 people with different professions, different personalities but with one true passion: cooking.
We were all excited yet uncertain of how classes would be like. We thought we’d go straight to the kitchen and cook all day, just like in masterchef or hell’s kitchen. We were so wrong- for the first few weeks anyway. We were introduced to Sarah Labensky and Alan Hause who gave us both, mental and physical exercises. Mentally, from reading those long chapters on culinary fundamentals. Physically? Just by merely carrying the heavy book, up the long flight of stairs to our classroom. But hey, I’m not complaining. Honestly, if it weren’t for that, I think we’d be weeping as we step on the scales every morning.
If you ask me which my favorite class was, I would certainly pause (for a considerable amount of time, i might add) and be caught choosing among almost every lesson we had in the kitchen. Best part of the applications is of course easier--- that’s tasting! However, there is one lesson I would never ever forget: Knife Skills. Turns out, they don’t just come in handy in the kitchen alone but in life as well. Let me share them to you.
The first rule of knife safety is to think about what you are doing; that about says it all. We need to give ourselves a few minutes each day to think about our purpose, our goals and keep them in mind. That way, we don’t lose track. We don’t accidentally cut ourselves when we pace too fast.
Second. A damp towel underneath the cutting board keeps it from sliding as we cut. In this journey we had, from the first day of class to our practicum trainings, even to this day and the uncertain future, we have our damp towels; people who keep us from slipping away and helped us to be where we are now and you just feel are the same people who support your dreams. We know who our damp towels are, they are over there at the back, sitting and now, smiling, probably thinking how awful it is to be compared to damp towels. Thank you for being OUR damp towels when we need you to be. And of course, we have ourselves, we had each other. I suppose a thank you is in order for that too.
Third. Keep knives sharp; a dull knife is more dangerous than a sharp one. Constant sharpening of our skills, not letting it go dull and put to no use. We have our whetstones here to thank, our chef instructors who were with us too, from the beginning of our journey; keeping us sharp and ready to cut through life’s challenges. It is our experiences in the kitchen, at home and during our training that honed us.
Fourth. A falling knife has no handle. Do not attempt to catch a falling knife, step back and allow it to fall. Failures are part of life. Heck, I’ve failed so many times in my life. I’m not saying we should let ourselves fail all the time. But when we do, it’s all right to cry and think how we failed; a time to check our mistakes and learn from it. After stepping back for a while, we pick ourselves up, dusting off the grime and we stand taller, stronger, wiser and making sure we don’t fall again.
Fifth. There are several ways to grip a knife. Whichever grip you use should be firm but not so tight that your hand becomes tired. Through the trials we faced, exams, tuition fees, being locked in a freezer, left by a train or working for 12-16 hours, we did not grip too tight. We still manage to smile and enjoy all these. We just look back to those times and laugh how we all got through them.
Sixth. Never leave a knife in a sink of water. Anyone reaching into the sink could get injured, or the knife could get dented. Being with my classmates for a year, I know this too well. No one really gets left behind. We had group studies, brain storming on calorie calculations, sharing where to buy the cheapest rice wine, food tasting for our market basket, and visiting our classmate in the hospital. Even after the classes are over we still get to see each other and hang out.
Seventh. Always cut away from yourself. That’s to avoid cutting your own fingers. But I see it as a way of moving forward. Improving ourselves and taking one step towards our goals.
Eighth. Proper sanitation of knives is essential to prevent cross-contamination. I’m not just talking of hygiene and our serve-safe seminar. Spiritually too, we get to check ourselves every now and then. Never failing to acknowledge the Supreme Being who blessed us all with the opportunity to be here, meet all these people and the chance to learn be who we have always wanted to be.
One more important thing I learned is this: when carrying a knife, hold it point down, parallel and close to your leg as you walk. No matter how high we might have reached our goals, we remain humble. We don’t forget how we all started. For me, it was that one hot summer day when my life changed.