Sunday, February 5, 2012

APRON 2012

Indeed I got ‘the memo’ to witness one of the countries’ popular hospitality and tourism management ‘Skills-Olympic’ competition.  I am talking about the annual APRON Competition.  And yes, I was miles away from being disappointed.  I think I am still in cloud-9 from that experience.  Ok, i'll promise that this won't be one of those narcisistic-posts / my-self-and-I Photo album post...teheee.

The event I am referring to was the Hotel and Tourism Apprentice Frontier Competition or APRON 2012 organized by the Northern Philippines Center for Hospitality and Tourism (NP-CHAT) last January 30-31 at Hotel Stotsenberg in Clark, Pampanga.  This two-day event houses competitions from various hotel and tourism fields.  Being there felt like there was a LIFESTYLE CHANNEL reality-show shooting happening all at the same time.  I was invited to see the day one where the opening ceremonies and some of their events were.  Wait, I did not write that quite right.  I was invited to see and write about it as a blogger and JUDGE some of the events (yey! self proclaiming leveling up, hahaha).  I was a little apprehensive on accepting the invite but it was a rare treat that I could not pass.  And I got to learn the basics of being a 'Sensory Judge'.  More on what is it all about later.
Our Meal Ticket (ehe)

I went to the event with my sister who is in the Hotel services field and is currently working at one of the premier hotels in the metro (AND she happened to have joined this competition in the past and won too).  She introduced me to Mr. Michael Q. Vilaga, current Operations Manager of NP-Chat(hmm.. I wasn't able to take a photo with him) and was the event manager.  I was soon given my 'judge's badge' and did not took much time and I immediately explored the event's venue.  

For day one, there was a Modern Cake decoration competition, table setting competition, Tour packaging, Apron Quiz bee, an on-the-spot Filipino free-style dessert, a Great Sisig Challenge, Tour guiding test, Cook-off challenge, Service Skills, Flower arrangement and the Barista Cup Challenge.  It was quite a heavy 1st day but the anticipation and excitement from the face of the students awaiting their turns was nostalgic.

The very first set-up which welcomed us were the outdoor-type tents lined-up which will be the venue for the many culinary-related competitions.  Inside the convention hall, the judging for the table setting competition has already began and here are some of the good photos I got from the event:
Very Pink, fit for debutante...
Modern - Cosmopolitan
I like the chairs...

People were then ushered to the center of the convention hall to witness the start of the table-skirting competition.  I was told that I will be judging a little later so I went to see how this event will take place.  My sister gave me a crash-course on what to expect.  The challenge will involve a pair of students who are tasked to 'dress-up' a standard round table.  This is a time-pressured challenge so the first to finish gets to have extra points.  Here are some of the photos I have of the before, during and after (and I have a personal favorite).

The next event (actually done simultaneous with the above) was the modern cake designing.  Day one had about four contestants and I was told by my sister (since I did not attend the 2nd day) that there were other cakes and took the charge of taking photos.  Here are some of them:

Some of them were designed to the theme of the recent Chinese New Year celebrations. 

Next stop was one of the highly anticipated Great Sisig Challenge.  Prior to the event, my sister and I were discussing on what to expect from the dishes.  I told her that contestants may be playing on two possible cards here.  First would be to use a different, unique or exotic ingredient in place of the usual 'pork' AND/OR present the Sisig in a different way.  True enough, these were the main themes of the entries.  Hotel Stotsenberg's executive chefs and some other 'Sensory Judges' were present to rate the entries.

So just what is a Sensory Judge anyway?  The sensory judge need not be very technical in terms of judging in any of the competition.  He or she need not be an 'expert' in the field or has certifications/qualifications.  He or she will be judging based on the appeal to the 'senses' like the over-all look, feel, taste, smell, etc.  It helps though that they are on the same field.  So why am I part of all of these?  Well, guess it was me being a food blogger, ehe (this is me just assuming).  Now back to the Sisig challenge.  The entries ranged from those who used SNAKE, one used Manta Ray, a sisig in dimsum-pouches, one in a burrito serving... I was able to taste all the entries and took particular interest in having the Snake variety.  It was good, like chicken only more chewy....  I am a Kapampangan but not much of a Sisig-person so I just had quick tastes of the dishes but did not go into much details.  See below pictures:

My sister and I went for lunch (the watching and taste testing, yes even when not the official judge, all those with the judge's badge may taste and talk to the contestants) at Hotel Stotsenberg's Twist Cafe.  We ordered Philly Cheese Steak sandwich.  She bought some choco-chip cookies too and we had some fruit shakes on the side.

After the quick lunch, the Cook-off and the Filipino Dessert stints were already done and were up for judging.  Again, we taste-tested them (gluttony anyone?).  Mid-afternoon was the time for the Servicing challenges where students are given 'live' or on-the-spot customer servicing tests.  This year's stint was made extra challenging since the students had headset microphones so everyone in the convention hears what they are telling their 'mock' customers.  There was also another time-pressured contest on flower arrangement.

Palitaw ravioli, Fried Suman balls & Fruit Salad medley
I like that caramelized sugar tower
Chessy trio... Yum, I liked the one on the upper left it's a Maja with nice crust
Flower arrangement Competition
Another photo of the souffle
A MAIN judge, Stots Exec Chef giving comments
The OTHER judge ehe...see my badge there???
The day (more of a night actually) was capped with the Barista Cup competition.  Each competitor is to serve Espresso shots, a Cappuccino and a signature drink.  NEVER in my entire life have I tasted this much coffee.  All in all I think I tasted 7 of each of the servings so that tallies to 21 coffee!!! (did I mentioned that the tasting and all ended at about 8pm, so I did not sleep the entire night, ehe).  Disclaimer though to put bring eyebrows down where they should be.  I AM NOT A COFFEE EXPERTBut I know my coffee well enough to comment soundly.  Yup, familiar enough with things like body, acidity, aroma, foam, when a foam is flat, etc.  So yey,  although I still read the primer given with the judges' scoring sheets.

This experience actually brought me to the conclusion that I need to share this knowledge with others too. So in the future, I will dedicate an article on Coffee-appreciation.

I volunteered to be the Sensory judge for this one and was delighted for the experience.  The dreaded moment came though, someone served a coffee with MINT!!! But I had to taste it still and maintain impartiality (ehem, ehem, yes I did).
Copyrights to their rightful owners, but here were some of the specialty drinks served to us that night:

Entry#1: Choco Espresso --- added choco powder to 1 shot espresso & fresh milk.

Entry#2: Coffee Mocha & Hazelnut Syrup --- reminded me much of Ferrero Rocher.  The syrup was so much though...

Entry#3: Fake Caramel Macchiato --- 30ml espresso shot, milk, vanilla extract & caramel syrup.  We judges did not get though the 'fake' part of it..(wink, wink, smile)

Entry#4: Touch of Art --- My favorite!!! Who would have thought of adding Lemon Grass Syrup to a hot coffee serving?  It was a layered drink with the lemon grass syrup at the bottom, espresso shot, fresh milk, whip cream, & strawberry syrup.  The contestant even told us how to drink it and my it was good.  I think this got my top marks.

Entry#5a: Minty Soya Caramel Frappe --- Oh MY!! Creme de Menthe at the horizon... was good though.  1 part espresso, 2 part soya milk, caramel syrup and sugar syrup. Definitely a dessert drink.

Entry#5b: White Strawberry Mint --- the strawberry was the only difference and removal of the soy milk.  Dessert drink too. Uber sweet.

Entry#6: Java's Whimsical Cone --- another favorite although a definite SUGAR overload.  Combination of Swissmiss, Vanilla ice cream, choco syrup, condensed milk, Grenadine syrup, whip cream, sprinkles and a sugar cone toping ---- overload, anyone?

Entry#7: Vanilla Amaretto de Espresso --- a cousin of entry #6 minus the Grenadine but with a touch of 'heart' ehe...

That's her making her concoction
& this is ME, taste-testing it afterwards...
This is by the way, my sister, Aica ---- My Busy Tour-guide for the day

The second day was not short of the luster of day one.  I have to rely though to my sister and her friends to get the photos from me so should they opted to post them too somewhere, the rights are to those who should be owning them (is this even honored, ehe).  There were Fusion cooking stints, a fruit carving competition, housekeeping challenge and many more.  Let us end this blog article with the wonderful photos of Day 2:

Over-all tournament winner went to Systems Plus College Foundation - Miranda Extension, followed by Systems Plus College Foundation - Main and 3rd was Mary The Queen College.  SEE YOU NEXT YEAR FOR ANOTHER FEAST OF TALENT and CREATIVITY!


  1. Cool! Never thought such a competition existed. Way to go, judge!

    1. yes, thanks AJ and please do help spread this link to help the organization get good publicity and momentum for future events such as this one

  2. thanks for this...aica is a good friend of mind...sir you where introduce to me by her at day 1....we got gold medal for service skills...
    what a wonderful experience!!!

    1. wow congratulations and thanks for visiting my blog... pagtulungan nating ishare itong link para maadvertise itong mga ganitong event...

  3. oh wow! this looked like an overall fab experience!
    tasting and judging food?! wow.

    1. yes, it was indeed a great experience... a rewarding one too.. ehe got to meet good people

  4. I have not checked in here for a while since I thought it was getting boring, but the last few posts are great quality so I guess I will add you back to my daily bloglist. You deserve it my friend :)
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  5. Thanks Stacey... nice to be of 'blog service' ehe

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    1. wow thanks for such kind words... and sorry to have just replied now... i will keep on updating the site with articles that tickle the varied tastes of readers like you!

  7. hi, Mary the Queen po ba naging 3rd Over all Champion?

    1. Actually no,saint mary's college of meycauayan ang third..i was there

  8. wow ang galing, hilig ko manood ng ganyan lalo sa na cake making!! galing nila...

  9. ahm,im sorry pero may kulang. St. Mary's College of Meycauayan, over all 3rd place din po cla. thank you

    1. thanks for the heads-up. I would have to verify this though...

  10. Wow! Mukhang nag-enjoy kayo ah. =)

    Aside from food tasting, masarap ding kumuha ng mga food shots at magpractice ng food photography. ^_^

    1. thanks for the visit bro! yep, it was the perfect opportunity to test my food photography skills

  11. thank you for this blog..

    it helped us a lot in doing our project..


  12. Wala man po pics ang carving namin..hehe