by Lorrie Reynoso

by Lorrie Reynoso

AHS 1973, College 1977

” A lifelong passion for travelling the world, culinary education, and all things food and culture related have laid  the foundation for my decades long career in Manila, New York and St. Petersburg. 

More importantly, I attribute the the love, support and guidance of my parents and close-knit family, and my Assumption (San Lorenzo HS ’73; AC,  B.A. in World History, ’77) education to possess the work ethics and confidence to pursue this path

     Coming from a large family synonymous with food (Culinary school, restaurants, fastfood outlets and food products, tv apperances), we naturally gravitated around the kitchen at a very early age. With our Mom at the helm, we were constantly experimenting with dishes and kakanins with the family cook. My  sister Mia and I were teaching Children’s Baking Classes during our high school summer breaks. 

      Soon after college, I started my formal culinary and pastry education at the Cordon Bleu, Paris,  where I obtained my Grande Diplome.  Transitioning from a B.A. in World History to culinary arts just flowed seamlessly, like a fitted glove. Classical cooking, after all, delves much into the history of food: its historical attribution, influences, origins. France, where I began my formal training, is so steeped in arts, culture, history and haute cuisine.  Their food and its preparation are taken so seriously.  It is where I learned to be detail oriented and technique driven. This rigorous focus on technique is found also in Chinese cuisine. It is no wonder the two highest forms of cuisine, Chinese and French, have unshakable techniques followed worldwide.

     Upon obtaining my Grande Diplome, I spent a couple of years teaching Practical French and Party-fare recipes to Manila’s food enthusiasts, housewives and home cooks. Parents sent their children about to embark for studies abroad.

     It was in the mid 80s, New York was fast becoming the food capital of the world, as it has remained to this day. It is such a melting pot of cultures, that it is the city where you find everything!  Cuisines from Ethiopia, Laos, Vanuatu, Romania abound. Famous chefs set up shop here. With the dawn of the Food Channel, there was the clamor for cooking schools.  That was when I decided to live in New York to broaden my horizons in 1987. 

     I taught the Professional/Career program at the International Culinary Schools at the Art Institute in New York for twenty one years, the last fifteen as a Senior Chef Instructor. It was an Associates in Arts degree for most of the students who finished the two year course. In 2008, I was hired to teach at the Institute of Culinary Education (ICE), which recently merged with another New York giant, the French Culinary Institute (later becoming the International Culinary Center), to become the largest culinary school in New York City, and one of the top five culinary and hospitality schools  in America. The impressive facilty is state of the art, having its own Chocolate Lab, Hydroponic Greenhouse, Molecular Lab and so on.  The curriculum was geared towards students who wish to pursue a career in hospitality and culinary arts, whether it be in a Michelin star, mid-level, or family restaurant, catering, private chef, cruise lines, resorts, hotels, recipe research and product development, food writing for esteemed publications like Gourmet, Food & Wine, Bon Appetit or Saveur Magazine.

     Full immersion Continuing Education courses are de rigueur for big Culinary schools to send their chef instructors to. To hone my skills in Asian cuisine at a professional level, I was sent to train in an intensive Chinese Cuisine course with Master Chef Bill Sy; a few months later, in Korean and Japanese cooking courses, followed by  a one on one course at the Royal Thai Culinary School in Bang Saen, Thailand. For Pasta and Italian courses, I went to Bologna, then a few years later to the Advanced Italian Culinary School in Calabria, Italy. Now you see how work can be both serious and fun at the same time!

     Both the Art Institute and Institute of Culinary Education welcomed international students. Seeing my kapwa- Filipino was a most welcome sight. Some notable Filipino  graduates are David Pelaez, director, Lyceum of the Philippines University (LPU), Sunshine Yuchengco Puey, JJ Yulo, Marian Dimacali-Calaquian (daughter of the famous Mary Grace Cafe and Bakeshop founder), Ricky Estrellado (executive Chef, Nobu Restaurants),  to name a few.

     So how then did I end up in Russia? In 2012, as Russia was awashed in new wealth, coming of age in terms of food, dining, and tourism to be at par with the West, top hotel chains like the Four Seasons, the Kempinski, Belmond Luxury Hotels chain started to open in Moscow and St. Petersburg. Naturally, chefs like Alain Ducasse and Jaimie Oliver followed suit to unveil their restaurants.  That’s when Swissam, currently the only premier Culinary and Hospitality School (now a University), in the center of St. Petersburg, in partnership with the International  Management Institute (Lucerne, Switzerland), The Confederation of Tourism & Hospitality (United Kingdom), and ICE (institute of Culinary Education, New York), opened its doors.   I jumped at the chance to teach and be an ambassador of  the ICE curriculum, all the while taking in Russian art and culture which always fascinated me! Having had five stints in Swissam, each stint lasting three months, endeared me to my students, some travelling from Uzbekistan, Kazakstan, Georgia and Belarus. How would I characterize my students? They were extremely motivated, appreciative  and wide-eyed! Having come from a very restricted Soviet regime experienced in their youth, nothing is ever taken for granted. Everything seems to be a blessing for them. Imagine being given the chance to hold their graduation at the Faberge Museum, or opening a weekend pop-up of their dishes at the Palace Square, right on the Hermitage grounds?

A poster of Lorrie graces the entrance of then newly-opened Mandarin Square in St Petersburg for which Lorrie helped to create and develop the menu.

     Summer and Christmas breaks I made sure to be back in Manila, spending bonding time with my mother, family and friends. This is also  when I took the opportunity to travel with my sister Cecille, going all over Asia, Europe, North America,  the Middle East, and to the Eastern seaboard of the United States. With my sister Mia and her family, we did a cross-country trip to  the Midwest, Desert Southwest, and the West, getting acquained with American regional cooking. Every visit to any region had to involve cultural and historical tours, dining out had to be educational for me, whether it was a restaurant or street food. Savouring and dissecting dishes and pastries are a must.  Going to the souks of Egypt, Morocco and just recently to Turkey to buy spices was sheer delight.  Travelling with friends to South America and trying out as many ceviches, churrasco, perillas and corn of all colors was part of the trip.  In Australia, eating Kangaroo meat (called Joey meat), giant Tasmanian oysters, mussels and succulent seafood was part of the fun. Unusual dishes like  and reindeer meat in Estonia and Latvia, horsemeat cooked by my Kazak students for their graduation was something I welcomed. 

     As I tell my students, I can only consider myself successful if they are a success. I encourage them to open up their palettes, as the food industry is truly global.



(serves 12-16)

3.5-4 kgs fully cooked smoked Ham

1 Tbsp. whole cloves 

Two medium cans sliced pineapple- juice reserved

20 Maraschino whole cherries

2 cups honey

2 cups firmly packed Light Brown Sugar

!.  Bring out the ham 30 minutes before baking. Preheat oven to 350F (175C)

2.  Using a sharp paring knife, score the top of the ham all the way to the sides in a diagonally crosshatch pattern, about 1/4″ deep, to make diiamond marks. Stud each “diamond” with cloves. Starting from the sides, arrange the pineapple rings, on top, securing with toothpicks on each side of the ring. Do this pineapple ring pattern  in a straight line from left to right, making a 2nd, 3rd or more rows of pineapple rings until surface of Ham is neatly covered.  Now stud a maraschino cherry in the center of each pineapple ring, securing with a toothpick.

3.  Place ham on a rack on a sheetpan. Add 1/4 cup of water to pan.  Loosely tent with foil the  ham. Bake for approximately 1 hour. Remove from heat. Remove foil.

4.  Meanwhile, combine the honey, brown sugar, and reserved pineapple juice in a pot and bring over medium heat, stirring occasionally for about 20-30 minutes, until thickened like a syrupy consistency. Set aside.

5.  Increase the oven temperature to 425F (212C). Brush the ham with 1/3 of the syrup mixture. Return to the oven, but adding more water to the pan.  After 15 minutes, Brush another 1/3 of the syrup mixture, adding more water to pan if necessary, and bake for another 15 minutes.  Lastly, brush with the remaining syrup mixture, continue baking for another 15 minutes until the glaze is shiny, and the skin dark golden brown,

6.  Rest the Ham at least 15 minutes before slicing.  Don’t forget to take photos!


(makes 20 canapes)

1 thin loaf Baguette (French Bread)- cut into circles 1/4″ thick

1 wheel 225 gms of Brie

1/2 cup WHOLE berry Cranberry Sauce

!/3 cup pecans or walnut- toast and chop

1 Tbsp. chopped fresh Rosemary

1.  Preheat oven to 375F (180C).

2. Slice the brie into cubes

3. Place a cube of Brie in the center of the bread circle. Add a small teaspoo of cranberry. Top with a pinch of chopped rosemary.

4.  When ready to serve, bake in the oven for 8-10 minutes

*** Note: you may substitute with Camembert or Goat Cheese. May be prepared in advance and bake right before serving


(makes 6 servings)

2 cups milk

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

6 large eggyolk 

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup (or more if desired) of bourbon or rum

1 cup cream

whipping cream for topping + dashes of cinnamon- scald

1.  In a small pot, place milk, cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla over low heat.

2. in a bowl, vigorously whisk the eggyolks and sugar until light in color.

3. SLOWLY pour half the scalded milk mixture into eggyolk-sugar mixture while whisking.  Pour this mixture to the rest of the milk into the pot. Switch to a wooden spoon. Important to keep LOW heat, while stirring the mixture for about 3 minutes, or mixture lightly coats the back of the wooden spoon.  Remove from heat.

4. Add the cream and bourbon or rum.  Refrigerate until well chilled.

5.  Before serving, pour the mixture into goblets, no more than 3/4 full.

6.  Pipe some whipped cream on top, adding a light dash of cinnamon


(serves 6)

4 medium or 5 small beets- preferably similar in size; scrub well

1 Avocado- right before serving, peel and cut into cubes

120 grams Goat Cheese or Feta- crumble

1/2- 3/4 cup walnuts – toast, then coasely chop

6 cups arugula

1.  Preheat oven to 400F (200C)

2.  Wrap beets individually tightly in foil.  Place in a sheetpan and bake, approximately 50 minutes or more, until tender when pierced with a tip of a knife. Unwrap and allow to cool. Peel, then cut into cubes or quarter moon slices.

3.  Place arugula in a salad bowl, gently toss in the beets, avocado, walnuts while adding the dressing. 

4.  Top with Goat cheese or feta all over the top.


1/2 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

3 Tbsps. Sherry Wine or Balsamic Vinegar

2 teaspooon  Dijon Mustard

! Tbsp. honey or Maple Syrup

Salt & Pepper to taste

1. Place vinegar, mustard and honey or maple syrup in a bowl. Slowly whisk the olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper


(serves 6)

1.5 kgs marble potatoes- wash and cut in half

1/4 cup Olive Ol

12 large garlic cloves- crush

1 Tbsp. fresh chopped Thyme or Rosemary

1 tbsp. salt + 1 tsp. freshly ground pepper (or more, to taste)

1.  Preheat oven 400F (200C).

2. Place sliced potatoes with the rest of the ingredients and mix well until well coated. Place in a pan/s, cut side down.  Roast in the oven for 15 minutes, and rotate the pan and continue roasting for another 15 minutes.  Check for seasonings

Happy Cooking! Don’t forget to send photos and post them in the Comments section below! Enjoy!


  1. Gerry Arabit

    Congratulations Lorrie for your great achievements in culinary excellence. Cooking is in your family genes and any new challenges you easily tackled and came naturally for you. Stay safe and healthy always.
    God bless.

  2. Sr. Guadalupe Valdes-Bautista, rgs

    Congratulations, Lorrie! How interesting is your culinary journey! I and the Valdes clan is so so proud of you. For a chef like you, I suppose there is no such thing as “retirement”.

  3. Dolly Pangan-Specht

    You forgot to mention that you were also among 2009 Most Influential Filipina Women in the US!
    We were “batchmates” with Mona Lisa Yuchengco and two others.

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