Food festival to gather over 300 culinary scholars

Scholars of the Culinary Education Foundation proudly wear their aprons

Scholars of the Culinary Education Foundation proudly wear their aprons

Comfort food has taken on a new meaning as this year’s Philippine International Food and Wine Festival (PIFWF) on October welcomes over 300 Culinary Education Foundation (CEF) scholars from different regions in the country.

After the successful mounting of the former Manila Food and Wine Festival in February 2013, the premiere culinary festival opens this year with a new name as well as a new platform that combines Filipino cuisine and indigenous local ingredients made by talented scholar-chefs of the first food and wine beneficiary event.

Organized by CEF in partnership with the Department of Tourism, the festival revolves around the theme, “From Farm to Fork.” From October 10 to 14, the culinary festival will begin with a food truck competition among master chefs, followed by activities such as wine tasting, trade exhibits, and food bazaars among many others.

“One of the foremost missions of this year’s PIFWF is to raise more support and renewed funds for the scholarships of another round of six batches of more or less 250 poor but talented Filipinos. The CEF’s advocacy works on the fulfillment of this beautiful purpose, as it aims to provide life-long learning and livelihood tools to deserving scholars who would greatly benefit themselves and the local community through free, accessible culinary education,” said Roxanne Oquendo, manager of CEF Inc.

Apart from volunteering their time and energy, the students will also be selling their own organic food products as their way of helping raise funds to support the educational and scholarship goals of the foundation. A number of establishments in the country and abroad will also showcase their own gastronomic produce.

“Last year’s food and wine festival raised an amount big enough to give 500 individuals, the opportunity to make meaningful improvements in their lives by pursuing their avocations. Imagine the many more lives that we can help if we could do this food and wine festival again this year,” Oquendo added.

Taste of success
There are 174 scholars who finished their classes and on-the-job training both in Manila and Candon, Ilocos Sur. Another 150 scholars are set to finish their studies before the year ends. These bright Filipino chefs are continually armed with the knowledge, confidence and competency skills they have learned while under the CEF course.

While most aspiring students are drawn to culinary careers because of the promising growth prospects, many average-earning and underprivileged adults continue to struggle.

One such case is Sinagtala “Baby” Cabrera, a single mom and part-time pub singer who is challenged to pay for their culinary education and training. But upon receiving the CEF scholarship, not only was she able to nurture her interest in cooking, but also explore food-related goals to maximize her entrepreneurial growth.

With the motivation and full support of CEF, Cabrera has successfully started a food retail business together with other Malabon scholars. Their homegrown food business includes selling bottled vegetable pickles, rice vinegar, as well as toothsome cakes and pastries.

As the chef partners with fellow scholars and neighbors in a very promising venture, Cabrera is proud to announce that their products have been successfully sold and carried by local food establishments under the name “Scholars.”

Conrad Madarang Jr., a fellow CEF scholar, couldn’t agree more. Also a bright culinary talent from Malabon, Madarang said he is very blessed for being among the few chosen to undergo the foundation’s program. Besides joining Cabrera in their joint business and actively participating in various CEF-initiated outreach and livelihood training programs, Madarang was also the first CEF scholar eventually employed by C2, one of Cravings Group’s chain of restaurants.

Last June 28, both Cabrera and Madarang earned the sweet fruits of their endeavors as they finally received their certificates of completion.

CEF, founded and headed by Susana Guerrero, aims to provide prospective students like Cabrera and Madarang the chance to undergo free top-quality culinary education, livelihood and career training.

The CEF is located at 287 Katipunan Avenue, Loyola Heights, Quezon City. For details, contact 925-3969 or 0915-217-8960, e-mail at, or visit


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