The Maya Kitchen Culinary Arts Center is known to people of all ages, regardless of whether they are chefs or not. Through the years, it has shared the passion for the culinary arts to generations, and continues to do so to this day; but there are some interesting things you may not know about this great culinary institution.
1. Back when it opened its doors in 1964, the Maya Kitchen was known as the “Maya Bakeshop.” At the time, the local baking scene was not as thriving as it is today – bakeshops weren’t as large-scale, equipment was not as sophisticated, and access to recipes and tutorials couldn’t just be searched online. Seeing an opportunity to develop the baking industry, the Maya Bakeshop gathered a team of experts and began conducting classes for aspiring bakers.
2. The Maya Bakeshop held classes in Metro Manila, as well as in key cities and provinces like Baguio, Tarlac,Pangasinan, Pampanga, and Laguna. Classes attracted baking enthusiasts and bakeshop owners.The course was designed with a vision that by the end of it, the students would be equipped with everything they need to know to run their very own bakery! It encompassed everything from recipes, baking techniques, and designing, to sourcing ingredients, managing supplies, and financing. Over a thousand bakers and baking enthusiaststook the course, some of them owners of successful businesses like Goldilocks, Joni’s Bakeshop, D’Swan,Hizons, the Rolling Pin, and many more!
3. As an added bonus, The Maya Bakeshop Course cost only P50.00. This covered the cost for handouts, certificates, and materials for the entire 2-month course.
4. Way before all the cooking shows and competitions on TV came out, there was The Great Maya Cookfest withNora Daza! The year-long contest which ran from 1976 up to 1990 was open to professional and amateur cooks and bakers alike. With hardwork, culinary skills and creativity, the finalists stood a chance to win a complete kitchen showcase, plus other valuable items; But the most coveted prize was a trip abroad, which included participation in a Culinary Exchange Program. Over the years, nine (9) delegations of six (6) Maya Cookfest winners led by Ms. Nora Daza travelled to Hongkong, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Japan, and the United States, to promote Filipino cuisine, and to learn about food of the countries visited. It became quite a prestigious competition and won the PRSP Anvil Award for Most Outstanding Public Relations Project.
5. One of the notable personalities with ties to the Maya Kitchen is Chef Jessie Sincioco. Chef Jessie had an office job when she decided to join The Great Maya Cookfest in 1983. The contest was held in the Intercontinental Hotel, where her entry won first prize in the baking category. Right then and there, she was offered a slot in the training program in the hotel’s pastry kitchen by the resident manager, who was also one of the judges. Her talent shone, and she was hired on a full time basis. From there, she moved on and established herself as one of the most notable names in the local culinary scene, and never fails to credit Maya for giving her the chance to pursue her dream. She is currently the owner of 3 luxurious restaurants, Chef Jessie Rockwell Club, Chef Jessie Top of The Citi and 100.
1983 — Chef Jessie Sincioco with Maya Cookfest judge, Joy Virata and LFM President, Felix D. Maramba Sr.
2013 — Chef Jessie hosts a demo for Maya Kitchen’s Culinary Elite Series.
6. Another notable personality near and dear to the Maya Kitchen was Chef Nora Daza. Truly a trailblazer, her show, “Cooking It Up With Nora,” was probably the very first TV cooking show in the Philippines! Some episodes were actually shot at the Maya Kitchen. She was a veteran gourmet chef, restaurateur, and cookbook author – an all-around great leader and pioneer. She became the face of The Great Maya Cookfest where she joined the winners in the culinary exchange trips.
7. Maya Kitchen was one of the first institutions to hold culinary workshops for kids! These classes are held every summer. In the early years of the course, the graduation of the talented young chefs were commemorated with a diploma shaped like a small cutting board!
8. The Maya Kitchen published its very first cookbook “Best of the Maya Cookfest” in 1979. Since then, they have published a total of 36 books, which include cookbooks, coffee table books and culinary reference books. Maya Kitchen has won a Gourmand Award for 3 books: “Food Service and Catering Management,” “The MayaKitchen Journal for Cooks and Foodies,” and most recently, “30 Minute Express Cooking.” The Gourmand World Cookbook Awards is an international competition that is heralded as the “Oscars of food awards in Paris.”
9. In the 1980’s, the Maya Bakeshop became the Maya Kitchen people know today. From the Flour Mill in Mandaluyong, it moved to its current location in Arnaiz Avenue, Makati. The Maya Kitchen Culinary Arts Center also serves as Maya’s test kitchen and research lab.
10. In commemoration of the Maya brand’s 50th year last 2012, the Maya Kitchen started the Culinary Elite Series. It’s a monthly cooking demonstration, which showcases renowned chefs and restaurateurs such as Sandy Daza, Jay Gamboa, and Chef Jessie among others to share their amazing passion for the culinary arts. The series continues today, check the schedule at themayakitchen.com/classes