I was recently invited to a special tour inside the kitchen of one of the most prominent culinary school in the Philippines today hosted by its Executive Director and Master Chef Norbert Gandler.

The International School for Culinary Arts & Hotel Management or ISCAHM is located at the 4th Floor of the FBR Arcade, Katipunan Avenue, Loyola Heights, Quezon City. This is their main campus but they also have campuses located in Pampanga and Cebu City.

Chef Norbert took us on an experiential tour inside two of their kitchens and got to meet some of the most notable member of the ISCAHM faculty such as Asia’s Pastry Guru Chef Ernie Babaran who is also the School Director for Pastry Arts, Chef Ana Lois “Bubbles” Cruz-Lerias who is the first Philippine lead candidate to the prestigious Mondial du Pain 2017 (World of Bread) in France, and lastly Chef Joey Reyes Herrera from the family behind the Aristocrat Restaurants.

Chef Ernie

Chef Ernie thought us the basics of Sugar Pulling while Chef Joey who is also the head of the Asian Cuisine classes of ISCAHM assisted Chef Norbert in preparing for us a Pan Roasted Lapu Lapu with Spinach Feta Cheese Ravioli.

Chef Joey

Watch the video at the end of this article.

Chef Norbert during the media briefing also shared 15 reasons why ISCAHM is considered as one of the best (if not the best) culinary school in the Philippines today.

1. Fifteen Years

Founded by Chef Norbert Gandler, Chef Ulrich Willimann and the late Chef Hans Schallenberg, ISCAHM opened their first school in Katipunan in December 2003.

2. Faculty

The ISCAHM Faculty is made up of a high-caliber roster of hotel professionals from Switzerland, Austria, Germany, Canada, Japan, and the Philippines.

3. Power of 3

The faculty is led by the powerhouse trio of Chef Norbert Gandler, Chef Ernie Babaran, and Chef Kenneth Cacho who is ISCAHM’s Director for Culinary Arts. Together they bring with them a total of 116 years of experience in the hospitality food service industry.

4. Geography

Aside from the Katipunan Campus, ISCAHM is located in the following locations:


Batis Asul Compound, Bgy. Sto. Domingo, MacArthur Highway, Angeles City


Synergis IT Center, F. Cabahug Street, Kasambagan, Cebu City

With the strategic location of its campuses, the school caters to students from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.

ISCAHM QC Restaurant. The students are honed in volume production through frequent preparation of meals to feed everyone in the school, 140 to 180 persons
ISCAHM QC Classroom

5. Five Course Offerings

Here are the courses offered at ISCAHM:

Diploma courses (14 months) in Culinary Arts and Kitchen Management with Australian Certificate III in Culinary Arts, and in Pastry and Bakery Arts and Kitchen Management with Australian Certificate III in Patisserie.

TESDA-certified intermediate courses such as TESDA National Certificate II in Cookery and TESDA National Certificate II in Bread and Pastry Production. Graduates of our TESDA-certified courses have a 100% passing rate for their assessment.

Also available are lifestyle courses for those who wish to upgrade their skills in cooking and baking. These can range from 2 sessions (10 hours) to 12 sessions (60 hours). Some of these courses are the Fundamentals in Culinary Arts, Fundamentals in Pastry Arts, Fundamentals in Bread Baking, Fundamentals in Japanese Cuisine, Savory Asia, Restaurant Concept & Entrepreneurship Program, Artisan Bread, Asian Bread, Junior Chef’s League, and Gingerbread House-Making.

6. Certificates

ISCAHM graduates receives an Australian Certificate III from Culinary Solutions Australia, upon graduation and also has an option to obtain an Australian Certificate IV.

World Association of Chef Societies (WACS) also grants graduates eligibility to be certified professional cook.

7. Senior High School

ISCAHM is the first exclusive culinary and pastry school to offer Senior High School Program.

Senior High School Technical-Vocational-Livelihood Track – Home Economics Strand. NCII in Cookery for Grade 11, and NCII in Bread and Pastry Production and NCII Food and Beverage Services for Grade 12.

8. Professional Kitchens

Chef Norbert said that they don’t claim to have the most advance in kitchen technology – but what they have is a good and complete kitchen, which is similar to most professional kitchen in hotels and restaurants.

ISCAHM kitchens are set up like industrial kitchens so the students will get used to it

9. Professional Recipes

Over 500 recipes of Western International and Asian Cuisines are taught to the students in the span of 14 months.

10. Professional Kitchen Operation

Students experience food preparation for high volume production, simulating actual professional kitchen operation.

“When I was still working in the hotels, I was amazed that some students don’t even know how to cut. It’s not easy in the school because you don’t have so much to produce, that’s the reason why we decided that we will cook for everybody. We try to prepare the students for their first step of working for a restaurant. That’s why we have a lot good feedback from restaurants and hotels that our students are ready to work,” beams chef Norbert.

Here are some of the dishes prepared by ISCAHM students during the media tour:

11. Practicum Assistance

ISCAHM offers practicum placement assistance to all Diploma Course students. Some of the partners mentioned during the briefing were: Seda, Astoria Plaza, Manila Hotel, Raffles Makati, Eastwood Richmonde Hotel, Waterfront Insular Hotel Davao, The Peninsula Manila and others.

12. Awards and Recognition

ISCAHM have won in numerous local and international competition. It is the only school that has won overall champion in all three major culinary competitions in the country – Chefs on Parade, National Food Showdown, and Philippine Culinary Cup.

Chef Ana Lois “Bubbles” Cruz-Lerias is the first Philippine lead candidate to the prestigious Mondial du Pain 2017 (World of Bread) in France

13. Everyone’s Welcome

ISCAHM accepts a diversity of cultures. Enrollment is granted regardless of age or nationality of the student.

14. Alumni

ISCAHM Alumni are found all over the world holding key positions in the food service  industry. To date, they’ve had over 3,500 graduates for the Diploma courses and almost 9,000 for the short courses.

Here are some of them:

  • Jordy Navarra and JP Cruz – Toyo Eatery
  • Rachelle Sarzona and Marge Villena – Shangri-la Fort
  • Ely Aspiras – Costa Crociere Cruise Line
  • Maylene Carpio – Hilton Strand Hotel in Helsinki, Finland
  • David Brugger – Simon Steakhouse in Zurich, Switzerland
  • Leslie Maloles Sevilla – Marina Bay Sands in Singapore
  • Charles Olalia – Ma’am Sir Restaurant in Los Angeles
  • Kerpatrick Boiser – Seda Hotel Vertis North
  • Mark Ledesma – Pacific Star Resort and Spa in Tumon, Guam
  • Bernice Pimentel – Ilustrado Restaurant
  • Herbert Milan – Blanche bar & Restaurant in Sydney, Australia
  • Giannina Abiva – Watsons Bay Boutique Hotel in Sydney, Australia
  • Jamie Montero – Sofitel Abu Dhabi Corniche in UAE
  • Yuichi Ito – Mandarin Oriental in Tokyo, Japan
  • Cherrie Ikeda – Pullman Tokyo, Tamachi in Tokyo, Japan
  • Chloe Lopez – The Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Florida, USA
  • Mark Santiago – Okada Manila
  • Ankhbayar Usukhsaikhan –  Ibis Styles Hotel in Mongolia
  • Asther May Gut – The Cake Lady in Zurich, Switzerland
  • Lin Dialde – Skyline Queenstown in New Zealand
  • Mary Perry – Sofitel Bribane Central in Australia
  • Ruby Joy Sy – The Brasaerie in Cayman Islands
  • Vince Amo – The Ritz-Carlton Doha in Qatar

15. Work-Ready

ISCAHM students are known to hit the ground running. In other words, graduates are sure to be well-equipped for their chosen careers.

“You don’t become a master chef or a celebrity chef overnight.  But if you have a good education from a good school, you will climb much faster,” according to chef Norbert.

The other important question to ask now is if it’s expensive to study in ISCAHM, Chef Norbert has a very enlightening answer to that question:

“We are not cheap here, it’s 370,000 pesos for our diploma courses for 14 months in Katipunan. In Cebu and Pampanga it’s 310,000 pesos for 12 months. But if you compare apples to apples then it’s not expensive. You have to look at the hours you get, the days you get. We are holding classes five days a week, not four days a week. We are doing quite a big food production 80% of the time, the students are provided meals. Of course, culinary is not cheap. Ingredients are more and more expensive, good faculty are not cheap. If you want to have experienced faculty then you have to pay also the proper salaries.”

For inquiries about ISCAHM, you may call (02) 8926-8888 / (0917) 8368772 or email [email protected]. Log on to www.iscahm.com or follow them on social media, @iscahm on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

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