Thursday, December 8, 2011

Did I Learn How to Bake at MICHA's Make, Bake and Decorate your Cake Lifestyle Class?

DISCLAIMER:  I have deferred this entry for a while now in the hopes that I could be more objective in my review.  Please note that these are based on my actual experience at MICHA's Make, Bake and Decorate your Cake lifestyle course (only!) held last October 2011 and is by no means a reflection of their full culinary courses, having met some very distinguished graduates and students of theirs.  J

I've always had a fascination with the oven.  Blame my love of fairy tales (an oven can bake a witch?!  Nightmare city!) or my sweet tooth which constantly demands satisfaction; I kid you not.  But for whatever reason, I just couldn't seem to muster enough courage to learn how to bake.  Temperature dials confuse me.  And how the heck do you pre-heat an oven to just the right temperature.

But being in forced sabbatical does has it's advantages.  One of which I am given the option to attend a number of lifestyle courses and workshops of my choosing, provided they are within budgetary limits.  So when offered a 50% off voucher for the Magsaysay Center for Hospitality and Culinary Arts' (MICHA) Make, Bake and Decorate your Cake lifestyle course, I readily grabbed the chance.

Magsaysay Center for Hospitality and Culinary Arts

Getting up bright and early on that particular October Saturday of the class was no easy feat for I had just recovered from a really bad case of the flu and was, unfortunately, still feeling the effects of it.  But rise I must for I was so excited to finally learn how to bake!

At their Waltermart branch, where the class was to be held, we were given a few basic items.

Toque, apron and handouts -- check!

It started off well enough, albeit an hour late, with a short baking demo by MICHA instructor, Chef Napoleon Cabonell.  A true culinary genius, he showed us the basics of baking and decorating various cakes, and just enough knowledge for us to be able to produce our own masterpieces for the day.  I was truly mesmerized at each flick of his wrist, each turn of a spatula and voila!  True works of gastronomical proportions were sitting right there in front of us.

Chef Napoleon Carbonell

With the demo over, we were finally made to enter the kitchen for some hands-on practice.  Yahoo!  The part I was waiting for.  But it was at this point that I finally came to assess the class -- all 40 30 (NOTE:  I reviewed my notes of the class again and found out that we were only around 30 to 32.  But heck!  That was still a lot) of us!  Holy crap!  Did they have a kitchen big enough to fit all of us in?

The class, big enough as we were, were separated into 2 groups, then further arranged by 4s.  It was at this time that my spidey senses started tingling.  I smell something afoul to be had.  Imagine 4 complete strangers being polite enough (as society dictates) to give each other a turn at mixing the ingredients in the only bowl made available for the 4-member group.  The tagalog word "nagkakahiyaan pa" definitely comes to mind.

Our instruments of mass gastronomical descruction

And since baking takes time and precision, you just know the remaining 3 will have nothing else to do but look at you shyly mixing batter away.  Oh joy...

To make matters worse, our whole group (with around 3 subgroups of 4) were supposed to share only 1 industrial sized mixer of which 2 other completely different MICHA instructors were manning for us.  Ever heard of the phrase "too many cooks spoil the broth"?  And once again, we were treated to yet another baking demo with both instructors gabbing away.

From what I had discerned, most of the participants, like me, attended in the hopes of actually learning how to bake or at least learn how to pre-heat an oven.  I did learn some useful techniques but I still wished it could have been more hands-on. 

In fairness to MICHA, I guess there we just too many participants that doing a more hands-on class was out of the question.  A co-participant mentioned that an earlier class she attended was not like ours and that they were given more actual practice.  Less people, I suppose.  Guess it was just my luck that I attended that particular schedule.

I have to say though, we did make one tasty cupcake.  J


Would I attend another MICHA lifestyle course?  Most probably since it does hold a lot of promise and I'd love to see Chef Cabonell in action again.  However, I'd be sure to check the number of participants beforehand first to prevent this from happening again.

After this fiasco, I asked around other culinary schools offering almost similar lifestyle courses and almost all of them mentioned that these classes are mostly demo types only and a more hands-on course requires longer sessions (another course altogether.)

And so my friends.  I end this post with a few questions.  Were my expectations just too high?  Was this really supposed to be just a demo?   To be honest, I wouldn't pay the full price of Php3,000 just for a demo.  Heck!  Even with the Php1,500 discounted rate I purchased made me felt that I was still cheated.

I'd love to hear your thoughts.  J


  1. I am amused at your blog, it’s very interesting. Thank goodness I found your blog:)


  2. Hmm, I have no idea. But I know a culinary course for around Php 1500 in QC area.

  3. @QUEENIE G.: Thank you. =)

    @michymichymoo: Is it also for a lifestyle course? =)

  4. i also want to take baking class before at henny sison but the last time i checked they no longer have class in Makati. but i think that is really the price range 2k above and less hands on unless you really enroll a course.

    looking forward for your bake goodies post.

  5. Aww, I guess culinary lessons are really expensive. Maybe if only a pair were tasked to make the cupcakes, then I guess it would have been better.

  6. I felt you were cheated too. Bad bad bad. Anyhow, thank you for sharing your experience with us. Like you, im also interested in baking and cake designing but I guess I would have to hold on to that thought since we don't have an oven to experiment on to. Hehehe.

  7. With 40 people that class was way too big to really get any hands-on experience. I suggest next time you call them first and ask how many participants there will be. If the class is too big I'd rather join another class wherein the number is more manageable.

    But don't let this incident discourage you from joining another cooking class. Learning new things is always fun : )

  8. I don't really have an idea how much lifestyle courses as such cost, but I think MICHA would've given you guys a chance to be more hands on if not for the big number of attendees. Btw, I also have a fascination with ovens, but still clueless on pre-heating and utilizing it.. XD

  9. I have always wanted to take baking classes, envy much!

    I think you got a fair deal with the 1.5k fee you paid-the usual rates would be 2.5k the least and with that you wouldn't have as much "exposure" to actual demo.

    Hope you'll have a better ( and not bitter) experience next time!xoxo

  10. @michi: Thanks, michi! But that's still a loong way to go. Hehehe! =)

    @Miss `Chievous: I agree. Heck! I'd even settle for even 3 in a group. =)

    @Em: I'm actually wishing for a more compact oven. I saw one at Abenson's before. Can't remember the price, though. =)

    @Eileen: I agree. In a way, I guess I should really have called in advance first. There's always a next time though. =)

    @Sumi Go: Join the club, sis! Hehehe! =)

    @Icar: I've actually been thinking about it. Oh well, it might really have been bad timing, I guess. =)


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