Sandra Avila: From Home Cook to Chef de Cuisine and Restaurant Co-Owner
A former Alain Ducasse Institute Philippines 15-month Certificate in Culinary Arts student, Sandra Avila is now chef de cuisine and co-owner and co-creator of contemporary French restaurant in Texas, USA- Le Cep. Texas monthly newsletter also featured an article, “It’s Getting Haute in Here” about her restaurant.
While her husband David was stationed in the Philippines, Sandra decided to enroll at Alain Ducasse Institute Philippines. From having spent some time vacationing in France, I knew who Chef Ducasse was. I dined with my family at Le Jules Verne, and fell in love with Chef Ducasse’s cuisine. The moment I learned that he had opened a school in the Philippines, I knew this was an opportunity I could not pass up. To make things even better, when I toured the facilities at Enderun Colleges, I was incredibly impressed.”
Q: What were your key takeaways?
One key thing that I learned during the program was the importance of being organized. As a home cook, one learns to constantly do things on the fly with constant improvisation. In a professional kitchen, however, that will ruin your day. An organized kitchen and a well-detailed plan of work for the day are essential to run a successful restaurant.
Q: What was the most challenging experience that you had during your stay at Enderun?
The 15-month program is very intense. The days can be very long and it can be easy to lose focus. Nevertheless, the amount of practical experience that 15-month program students receive is tremendous. Personally, I am glad that’s the program I chose.
Q: You had your internship at 58 Tour Eiffel, how did it feel that you were done of the students chosen to go to Paris for internship?
I was so honored to represent Alain Ducasse Institute Philippines at 58 Tour Eiffel. When Chef See gave me the news of my upcoming internship, I could not contain myself. To this day, my time in Paris remains as one of the grand experiences in my life, and one that I would urge all students to pursue.
Q: How did your learnings at Alain Ducasse Institute Philippines help you in conceptualising the dishes for Le Cep?
I learned at ADIP that one should respect the ingredient. When you have good product on the plate, there is no need to mask it with heavy condiments or sides. One needs to let the main ingredient shine. That’s the central philosophy of my dishes at Le Cep.
Q: What is you advice to future students who will take Alain Ducasse Institute Philippines’ certificate programs?
It is important to understand that the programs are Alain Ducasse Institute Philippines are not easy. One needs to be committed to learning and working hard. If you are looking for and easy cooking program, there are plenty of options in the market for that. However, if what you are looking for is to flourish as a culinary professional who believes in excellence, this is where you belong.