PACE’s Fun-Filled Food Tour and Culinary Experience

PACE’s Fun-Filled Food Tour and Culinary Experience

It’s heartwarming to find out that Filipino cuisine is gradually captivating the world. We often see in our Facebook feeds restaurants making waves in the US wherein Filipino dishes (or elements of them) are given the spotlight. We heard about the famous halaya/ube getting all queued up for. The great Anthony Burdain also praised Filipino cuisine, which just proves how amazing our food really is. In short, our dishes are starting to have more “selling point” when it comes to bolstering tourism.

Now, Professional Academy for Culinary Education or “PACE” is at the forefront of this initiative. This is why it’s newly launched branch in Araneta Center, Cubao is recognized as the first (and currently the only) Center for Filipino Tourism.

PACE in Araneta Cubao - Philippine Food Tourism

PACE Center for Food Tourisim 
Dubbed as a Center for Food Tourisim, PACE Araneta is a Filipiniana-themed facility wherein our own cuisine is given highlight to. It is nestled in the Ground Floor of the Telus Arcade, Araneta Center, Cubao.

Curious as to what happens at this hub? Well, I was too, and thankfully, I got the opportunity to experience one of the short programs called HAPAG: Tables of the Philippines.

Kitchen in PACE Araneta, Cubao

HAPAG: Tables of the Philippines
HAPAG is the flagship course in this branch. It is a half-day program that includes introduction to buying in the market (i.e. Tour to Farmer’s Market), learning and preparing 4 Filipino dishes and, the best part, tasting the dishes.

Market Tour in Farmer's Market - PACE Araneta

1. Market Tour
The market tour takes about an hour, and it starts with a briefing and distribution of bayong, a traditional Filipino weaved basket. For this short trip, we were advised to bring money with us, so that we may also buy whatever we see interesting. For the entire HAPAG experience, I was with my mom and she got exuberant with this part. I saw sparkles in her eyes.

Market Tour in Farmer's Market - PACE Araneta

The first stop was the vegetables. We were oriented with how to select fresh produce. The quickest tip shared was to always buy vegetables (and even fruits) with their stalks intact. It was followed by a visit in the poultry, meat and seafood.

Tips were shared across the entire tour, and I was amused as to the "selection process" that happens.

2. Culinary Demonstration
On the second leg of the program, we witnessed the culinary prowess of Chef Nikki, one of the instructors here at PACE. She demonstrated to us how to prepare and cook 4 chosen dishes: Kaldereta, Paella Valenciana, Pancit and Piaya. We were encouraged to ask questions along the way so that everything will be smooth when it would be our turn to prepare the dishes.

Kitchen in PACE Araneta, Cubao

Chef Nikki constantly shares her personal tips when preparing dishes. She also often provides insights on how to keep the area clean, so as to improve efficiency.

Chef Nikki of PACE Culinary School

Cooking a Paella Valenciana - PACE Araneta

Everyone was eager in learning about the dishes. Aside from the "technical" side of preparing and cooking for the dishes, Chef Nikki also happily shared some brief background/history behind the chosen dishes. It was truly an enriching learning experience!

Students/participants in PACE's Group Culinary Activity

3. Food Tasting
After an hour of demonstration, Chef Nikki plated them nicely, and then served on the literal “hapag”. All the dishes completely dissipated in a matter of minutes, and everyone was completely satisfied. Afterwards, we were called to assemble into 3 groups. It was now our turn to be in culinary action!

Almost cooked up - Paella Valenciana, PACE Araneta

4. Culinary Activity
Participants were grouped with 3-4 members each. The assignment was supposedly random, but I ended up being grouped with my mom.

Renz Cheng in PACE Araneta

The ingredients were already prepared ahead of time, so all we needed to do was to execute (i.e. replicating what Chef Nikki demonstrated). While we were supposed to cook out of memory, we ended up constantly referring to the recipe guide. I guess we still have to build that "culinary confidence".

Ingredients for Culinary Group Activity in PACE Araneta

HAPAG - New Barkada/Family Bonding Activity

It felt really amazing to personally dabble with the ingredients. It was as if my cooking skill bar gradually got filled up all throughout duration. It also was a fantastic bonding moment with my mom, and I could sense the excitement in her, mine too.

Renz Cheng bonding with mom for culinary experience in PACERenz Cheng bonding with mom for culinary experience in PACE

Our dishes didn’t end up as “photogenic” as what Chef Nikki did, but taste-wise we were able to imitate probably 80% of it. Best of all, each of us really had a fantastic time, evidenced by the giddiness and smiles on our faces.

To wrap things up, let me share with you the product of everyone's hard work.

Pinoy Kaldereta - beef stew in tomato sauce
Pinoy Kaldereta - beef stew in tomato sauce

Pancit Guisado - sauteed rice noodles
Pancit Guisado - sauteed rice noodles

Paella Valenciana - a Spanish influence rice casserole
Piaya - sesame muscovado flat bread

Piaya - sesame muscovado flat bread

For those wanting to have exposure or introduction to cooking (more particularly Filipino cooking), this half-day program will surely satisfy those curiosities. Gather up your barkada or family for this fun-filled bonding activity. It’s also a great way to meet new friends, so yeah, you deserve some dash of adventure here in PACE Araneta.

For more details about their programs including this half-day activity, you can check out their website at You may also reach them thru mobile at 0917 835 5218 or landline at 577 8055.

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