I love baking and cooking. Much like a box of memories left at the back of a cabinet, however, I’ve set aside the passion that I have for it. I just can’t do it at the moment. Despite the “baker’s block” though, the yearning to learn more is still there, so aside from taking classes once in a while, I’ve joined baking and cooking groups on Facebook (guilty: I joined almost all of them… and dragged BF along, too! Haha!).
One of the groups that I enjoy the most is the Newbee Baking & Cooking International group. The “newbees” (members) are friendly and encouraging, and despite her being overseas, “motherbee” (the founder) always makes sure that everything is going well in the group. Aside from the members themselves, a group stands out when they’re as much a group out in the physical world as they are online, and this was proven at the event hosted by the Newbee Baking & Cooking International: Healthy Cooking Demo by Chef Redj Baron Saguin.
Despite the abundant fresh produce found in the Philippines, cheap and instant food are very popular among the Filipinos. In fact, in 2014, among the most popular companies in the Philippines are those that produces instant noodles and artificial food seasoning. It seems that a Filipino dish isn’t complete without a packet of something something mix or a pinch of magical powder and I think the dish loses it’s soul in the process. As for me, there’s something about fresh food that’s been seasoned with only herbs, salt, and pepper that’s really inviting, and I’m really interested in the versatility of fresh ingredients which is why I went to the cooking demo.
The event started off with an introduction by Chef Niel, followed by a bonus fondant demo by a fellow member, Ms. Charlotte. First, she taught us how to make an easy ruffled cake with fondant. I wasn’t really fond of fondant since I think it’s just to sweet, and I was more attracted to the classic buttercream, but I think I’ll give this one a go. I learned that fondant can be made in a big batch and it’ll keep for a while so that’s really convenient.
Ms. Charlotte even taught us how to make a cute bear topper afterwards! 🙂
I knew it was easy to deal with fondant, but the creativity and artistry is only acquired through constant practice and a great amount of experience.
After the fondant demo, the healthy cooking demo started right away. I don’t watch TV at all, so it was only later on that I found out that Chef Redj has his own cooking show, and is a contributor to different food magazines. A celebrity chef!
Chef Redj was fun to watch — and it is not a secret that a happy cook will serve happy food! In between the Paella Valenciana, the Grilled Chicken Canape, and the Steamed Fish Florentine with Mornay are lots of tips and tricks, too! In addition, I learned a lot about how to make a good stock which is important in cooking for good health.
When the Steamed Fish Florentine was done, we were each given the chance to put it all together and taste the finished outcome. This was really nice — the lightness of the fish, the spinach, and the wanton cup was balanced of by the creamy mornay.
The next dish was the Grilled Chicken Canapes, and, just like the previous dish, we all had a small piece to try it…
Finally, the most awaited Paella!
After mixing everything together, we were finally able to try the paella… and it was amazing! I don’t really eat paella, but this was really delicious! Plus, the generous amount of seafood and the use of good soup stock instead of artificial seasonings made this dish really special. 🙂
Another bonus treat was a unique demo of a pineapple upside down cake. What’s so special about it? It wasn’t baked in an oven! It was “baked” on a stove top, with a pan made by Berghoff — a European brand that produces high quality cookware… How cool is that?!
This demo taught me more than just cooking and making fondant, and to be able to see firsthand how technology, creativity, ingenuity, and passion can transform the way we do things in the kitchen was really unforgettable. I really enjoyed meeting everyone and hearing about their personal experiences in the kitchen — being reminded that other people has their fair share of bloopers in the kitchen made me realize that it’s okay to make mistakes. And what’s a better way to be a newbie than be a NEWBEE? 🙂
P.S. Watch out for updates as the group will be organizing other demos for everyone to enjoy! 🙂