Expanding your Horizons through a Global Mindset featuring Chef Fhred Erick Batalona

By Tram Panaligan

Chef Fhred Erick Batalona, more commonly known as Fhred in SISFU, is a man who through a global mindset expanded his horizons in the culinary world. Currently he is the head chef of Bar Pigalle, a popular restobar in Melbourne, Australia; and the founder and head chef for Barangay, a pop-up restaurant—based in the same city—that serves Filipino Cuisine.

As a SISFU alumnus, he graduated from the country’s premier transnational university with a Hospitality Management Degree specialising in Culinary Arts in 2017 under the international partner, Pearson-Edexcel which is based in the United Kingdom.

He shared the things he loved and the challenges he faced as a student in SISFU. His high points would be when he competed for a culinary competition and bagged second place. He and his team were not expecting that they would win, since the information that they were receiving at that time was quite perplexing.

As for his low point and greatest challenge he has faced whilst studying is similar to what most college students dread to experience: being buried in assessments. With his programme having eight to ten subjects per term, and each subject having at least four assessments, he had to do a lot of catching up and making sure that everything was submitted correctly and on time. He stressed on the value of not procrastinating and to always do it ahead of time. In addition to this, he mentioned the importance of having a personal printer—which was a handy tool for all the assessments he had to complete each term.

SISFU has indeed helped and contributed to Fhred’s success today, because of the university’s reputation for delivering international degrees in the Philippines and delivering course contents from international partners that both contain theoretical and practical competencies for its students. This has equipped him with the necessary skills he needs once he enters the culinary world. This has also helped him easily adjust to Australia since apart from the degree he was able to obtain, he was even conditioned practically and culturally.

As we wrapped-up the interview, he ended with a few quips and tips to all the future graduates of SISFU and those who plan to pursue higher education there:

“If you chose to study in SFU [SISFU], you made the right choice. You’re already internationally prepared at what you need to do in terms of career."

“I would implore most of the students to actually branch out of the Philippines, so that whatever education you receive back home can be further utilised in a different country so that you can expand yourself a bit more—that would be from your emotional state, to your mental state, to your cultural state as well. It creates a better experience to be more independent and to be critical thinkers as well because you are conflicting with cultures... I would implore people to just go out of the country.”

“For people who [are] taking culinary, if you can practice at home—do it. If you can cook and learn from YouTube videos, or like [to] go into online classes with different chefs—do it. ‘Cause that’s where you learn, to create that base for yourself. So try not to think that what you’re studying right now is all usable, I might say, so it might be usable; some might not be usable... but keep it in one place. ‘Cause it's good to be well-rounded as well.”

“Don’t give up. Don’t give up on anything, especially on your dreams. Because a lot of times when you’re pursuing something, you will face a lot of problems and hindrances... and it’s a lot to take. So make sure that you’re not giving up and [you’re] looking after yourself as well—especially during this time. It’s kind of daunting just this whole COVID scenario thing and it’s kind of disheartening to see a lot of young chefs change their path, because they think they have no future in the industry—just because of what’s happening right now. And it will be really nice to see “new blood”; new creatives in this industry because that’s where we can just develop them and hopefully create a better culture for them moving forward. ”

Chef Fhred’s story was both thought-provoking and motivational. We, The Bridge, deeply appreciated the time he has shared with us.

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