Who are you Airah Galamay?
My name is Airah Galamay, and I’m a Le Cordon Bleu graduate, a chef-in-training and an entrepreneur from the Philippines. I decided to apply for the HEG program because I wanted to develop a wide perspective of food as a chef, and I believed that the program would be a great foundation for that.
I am primarily interested and involved in the production of food inside the kitchen, but I have always aspired to be a chef who understood a lot of the facets of gastronomy, not just the cooking aspect. The HEG program opened my eyes to so many different angles through which one can view food, and it only served to fuel my passion even more. The science behind the culinary arts, how food affects society and vice versa, I believe it all displays itself in the food I prepare in one way or the other, more so now than before the program. The respect I have for food, while it’s always been high, has been elevated even more by what I’ve learned. I am now in the process of starting my own businesses (all of which are related to food) and I do freelance high-end catering when I have the time. Through and in all of those, I can see small but significant applications of my HEG education in my work, and because of that, combined with the great experiences and amazing people I’ve met through the program, I can say with certainty that HEG has become a valuable part of me and my food.
HEG thesis by Airah Galamay
Despite being one of Asia’s fastest growing economies, having a rich and dynamic cuisine that merges influences from West and East, and being a veritable tourism hotspot, the Philippines as a nation is still far from being competitive in the culinary arts. Filipino cuisine may be put in the spotlight once in a while, and tourists may often enjoy the local food during a visit to the country, but very rarely does the Philippines get acknowledged when it comes to professional gastronomy, whether globally or within Asia. Very rarely are Philippine restaurants included in global recognitions or acclaimed by international culinary juries. No Philippine-raised chef or individual has ever been recognized as a master of the art by global standards. While the tourism and gastronomy industries might be considered strong in terms of revenue, the quality and artistry of Philippine professional culinary arts still leave much to be desired. This study probes past what might be wrong with the food and into what might be wrong with the food-makers instead. I conducted a survey to obtain a general idea of what a “Filipino chef” is, in order to analyze whether the country’s standard for chefs is what is impeding progress in its culinary industry. I also conducted research in order to connect the survey result to its possible roots in traditional native values. I argue that the reason Philippine culinary arts is subpar is that there is a lack of differentiation between chefs and cooks in the Philippines, hence a mediocre standard for Filipino chefs. In addition, I point out the quintessential Filipino principles that brought about this low standard, which in turn made Philippine gastronomy what it is (or in this case, what it is not).