Best ‘plant-forward’ culinary education now at CCA Manila

PLANT-BASED cooking is not only a trend, but also becoming a necessity today, especially for those who are conscious about their health. One also can’t simply ignore it, as food brands and restaurants have plant-based options, giving diners and consumers healthier alternatives.

Back in the 2000s there were limited sources of plant-based food in the Philippines. But through the years and as a result of the growing health and environmental concerns, consumer interest in plant-based diet and lifestyle have sparked a wave of innovation in the “plant-forward” movement.

Navigating the way toward this lifestyle is not always an easy transition. There’s also the misconception that plant-based food is “just greens,” with limited or bland flavors.

Early this year top culinary school CCA Manila partnered with Guang Ming College to include plant-based education courses. The former’s programs being attuned to the times, it saw growing demand for vegetarian and plant-based cuisine.

For Chef Miguel Lorino of CCA Manila, people should move on from the bias that plant-based food is just salad, as “enjoying plant-based food in different cooking methods and flavors is possible through the advancement of technology.”

With the fast evolving food-, baking- and tourism-industry trends, CCA Manila plays an important role in implementing a program like the “Plant-based Foundation” course—this time in partnership with Rouxbe Online Culinary School.

Through the course, CCA Manila students will be exposed to a wide range of knowledge: from basic knife skills and basic nutrition, to learning ways to convert or substitute recipes, including understanding principles of flavor balancing and layering that will appeal to vegetarian and plant-forward lifestyles.

Students can learn about incorporating more plant-based ingredients into their daily lives, as well as learning to appreciate different plant-based cuisines and food from around the world. These will help learners create delicious and appetizing dishes that will significantly expand their repertoire of plant-based dishes.

Moreover, CCA Manila and Guang Ming College endeavor to showcase the possibility of offering plant-based meals other than the usual fare in Philippine markets by elevating vegetarian dishes through innovative culinary education.

A few months back CCA Manila and Guang Ming College hosted a plant-based lunch inspired by the traditional Filipino house: the bahay kubo. It sparked celebration and appreciation of vegetables mentioned in the song: upo (bottle gourd), kalabasa (pumpkin), singkamas (turnip), kamatis (tomato), talong (eggplant), and luya (ginger).

Students from the two institutions showcased a wide variety of plant-based delicacies, including coconut pandesal with bitter gourd or ampalaya and pineapple jam, a contemporary Filipino salad with plant-based soy longganisa (Filipino sausage), calamansi tofu cheesecake, and more.

“We are lucky to have this partnership with Guang Ming College to learn more about culinary arts, and to promote vegetarianism using Filipino ingredients,” declared Dr. Veritas Luna, chancellor for education of CCA Manila.

Aside from the online courses, CCA Manila also has extensive hands-on plant-based training in its Maginhawa, Quezon City and Antipolo, Rizal satellite campuses to fully equip the students with competitive culinary methods: from cooking vegetables, grains and legumes, to dairy-free alternatives.

“Plant-based food will become a staple and more common in the coming years,” said Lorino. “It is not just a trend, but a permanent choice of diners and consumers.”

For an aspiring plant-based cook, health-care practitioner, culinary student, instructor, or a serious cook who seeks an intensive immersion in culinary education, CCA Manila’s innovative programs can open endless flavors and possibilities for them to enjoy, create, and serve plant-based food. Visit or e-mail [email protected] for inquiries. CCA Manila will open its BGC campus in Taguig City within the year.

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