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The Boss...A passion for baking and cooking
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by: Woman Today

If you want to be a master baker or even a master cake decorator, you don't have to go abroad. You can learn from a master and she is a FilipinoLeni Reynoso-Araullo. Does her middle name sound familiar? That's because she belongs to the Reynoso clan whose name is synonymous with great food and of course, the cooking school. She is my favorite sister, declares culinary authority, Sylvia Reynoso-Gala. Leni is a co-founder of the cooking school now headed by Sylvia.

Since 1974, Leni has been a Certified Wilton Method Instructor. Although she is based with her family in the United States, she finds time to teach at the Sylvia Reynoso-Gala Culinary Arts Studio (Shaw Blvd., Pasig City). Aside from holding baking classes and master cake decorating course, Leni also offers classes on money-making sausages. Like her sister Sylvia, she always assures her students that they will get easy and exact recipes and practical methods in the kitchen."

Both Leni and Sylvia say that their parents (renowned architect Jose Reynoso and gourmand Afric Valdes) encouraged them to be at home in the kitchen. Their mom, a BSE Home Economics graduate would tell them, If you want to eat that, then learn to cook it."

According to Leni, their mom would even tell them to buy and look for the ingredients themselves with some assistance from a household help.

Leni remembers too. In papa's case, he built a kitchen beside the master's bedroom and it was designed for growing up kids like us then." When she and Sylvia decided to open a school, their father only had one advice, Ituro ninyo lahat or else, itago na lang ninyo sa aparador. At kapag naturuan ninyo ng mahusay, pang habang buhay yun, pati apo makikinabang."

Shortcuts and shortchanging students never cross Leni's thoughts. Teaching for me is a mission. I believe I was given a second chance to live to be able to share whatever knowledge I have with anyone who is interested." She had about with the Big C but was able to overcome it and says, That's the reason why I consider teaching more as a mission." But before she started teaching, Leni made sure, I am properly equipped and there's always something new to share with my students."

In the course of her masteral studies in Accounting in the US, Leni toured South America fascinated with the region's cuisines. It further whet her appetite to learn more, I was encouraged by my parents so I also did a tour of Europe and then honed my talent in the US." Aside from taking her Master in Cake Decorating under Martha and Stanley Wilton, she is also a graduate of the Chicago School of Cooking and Catering. In Hong Kong and Thailand. Leni improved her versatility in Asian cooking. Not only that, the indefatigable student, she also completed a Nursing course in Los Angeles, California.

Her work experiences include posting in various US hospitals and taught in less than six American colleges and universities' medical schools. I handled nursing subjects as well as hospital management classes." In between, Leni never let go of her baking and cooking interests.  One experience I'll never forget is my stint with the Westin Continental where I worked in the executive office and then decorated wedding cakes in the Pastry Department on Saturdays and in the afternoons."

Despite her immense experience and qualifications, Leni makes her classes easy on the students. Aside from baking and cake decorating, she is in demand in the Philippines for her classes in sausage-making. Name it, Leni will deliver from Italian salami, German liverwurst to longanisang Lucban. At Gourdo's (The Fort) and Living Well (The Podium), Leni conducts special baking/cake decorating classes.

Now, what could be Leni's secrets to success? Know what you teach; in cooking, it's important to know all the ingredients at heart; develop your palate and sense of smell; you must love both cooking and eating; put the students at ease and above all, be thankful for all your blessings, big or small."

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September 23, 2017

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