I was honored to be chosen as a judge by B.A.C.A (Bacolod Academy For Culinary Arts) for the final exam of their students. The students had to present an entire meal – appetizer, soup, main course, and dessert to a panel of judges. They would be graded in various categories. I was very impressed with the results and the output that the students put out!
I really liked seeing the different strengths and weaknesses of the students – Some excelled in making main dishes, others in the desserts. Everyone was very talented and B.A.C.A has certainly prepared these students for a bright future in the Culinary field!
I can’t name any names of course, but I decided to post my commentary for some of the dishes that I tasted. These are all made by the students and you can really tell that they are very creative! The other judges had their own favorites- I focused on only what I really enjoyed.
This excellent Taco salad was made from scratch, the shell was formed by hand and fried. The student used plenty of aromatic herbs and she had properly seasoned her chicken. It was served at the proper temperature and the taste was cool and refreshing.
For the soup category, the soup that really stood out was the Broccoli Soup. It was flavorful however it was a bit on the thin side. Despite that, it was a really good soup. It is not especially colorful however putting broccoli florets in the soup was a very nice touch and added a much needed dash of color.
The main dishes were really interesting!
This immediately caught my attention. The student had plated his dish in an interesting way that was eye catching and drew the eyes to it. It was a novel approach and this is a very masculine dish- a very meaty, hearty dish. I could tell that my fellow judge who is an expert on meat dishes was very interested.
The aroma of the dish was enticing, with the scent of the aromatic herbs filling the room. The potato croquettes were well done, albeit a bit too well seasoned with nutmeg. The lamb was soft and tender and very tasty. The vegetables added color but I wished the student would have selected more “fuller”, bigger and more enticing looking sprigs of broccoli! It looked uneven with one big broccoli piece and one tiny broccoli piece. Texture-wise, this dish had multiple textures ranging from the crunchiness of the veggies to the soft potato croquettes.
Another favorite of mine, was the Stuffed Pork Tenderloin with prunes and Bell pepper in Red Wine Sauce with truffle oil and potato duchess. It was a myriad of flavors and textures. The student even grilled some vegetables which added an interesting crunch – pleasant to the mouth, breaking up the monotony. The meat was soft and the bell peppers cooked to perfection. Each bite brought new flavors and interesting taste and texture sensations.
For dessert, the most visually appealing for me was this star-shaped Mango pie.
Visually, the star shape and the sliced mangoes gave it a brilliant, colorful appearance. However the crust was too thick! It just needs a little rework and this dish would be perfect.
The dessert that I enjoyed most was the red velvet cake with mango frosting (not shown). It was thick, moist and hearty, served at the perfect temperature. the sweetness of the mango frosting gave a welcome “taste boost” to the cake. One of my comments to my fellow judges was if the student was selling this cake, I would certainly order several to give to friends.
I didn’t want to be “mean” to the students, but there was a “personality” component of the final grade so I and my fellow judges had to ask a few complicated questions. The students did relatively well, but they were a bit shy and hesitant in answering. Don’t worry guys, I won’t eat you!
One question that the students had the most trouble with was when I asked them who would most enjoy their dishes. They were caught a little off guard but after a while managed to answer satisfactorily. I am so excited for these students when they begin their culinary career and they will begin receiving compliments and comments from customers from various countries and backgrounds. BACA has prepared them well for this.
Good luck students! I am honored to be able to taste your food. Remember, put a little passion and love in your food. That is the best seasoning, the best spice! Congratulations on acing your final exam!