Iron Bar Chef

I was amazed to find out that adequate number of vocational and work programs are in place at the Bureau of Corrections. It has been more than two decades when I had the chance to enter the Maximum Security Compound. It was an outreach program then hosted by my highschool alma mater in which we donated sacks of rice to the offenders.
Not only do these work and recreational programs aim at improving the mental and physical makeup of the detainees, it also provide them with opportunities to earn their keep while in captivity and it equip them with basic skills to join in society after release from custody. Those who completed their studies are being hired as inmate teachers. Others with military or police backgrounds are asked to join ICA, a group that keeps peace and order within the compound.

Not only do these initiatives reduce prison staffing, this strategy also boosts self-esteem among the prisoners and keep them busy. A productive and occupied mind deters them from busting out of prison and going back to re-offending. OIC Aro told us that offenders are classified into 3 categories: Maximum security - those sentenced 20 years plus 1 day and above Medium security - 20 years and below Minimum security - minor offenders who can freely roam around the compound
Last June 16, we were invited to the Iron Bar Chef Challenge at the Muntinlupa Bilibid Prisons. It was a spin-off from the Iron Chef America, in which the contestants competed in culinary challenges and eliminated by a panel of judges at the end of tasting and judgment.

Each group were give a mystery 'bayong' which contains fish, meat, fruit and vegetable ingredients they could use to prepare the required main course, appetizer and dessert. Criteria set for this elimination round are: 50% taste
25% plating
25% nutrient value

Two bloggers, Lariza Garcia and Yani Metrado joined the panel of judges. A live band performance from the Bilibid Boys Band kept the audience entertained as the six groups work their culinary magic using the ingredients given them.

It was interesting to watch as each member of a group does his share peeling vegetables, cutting bite-size pieces, whisking batter, cleaning after their cook while the latter concentrates on a winning gourmet line-up he has in mind.

After 30 minutes, several groups had their appetizers and main courses platted and lined up on their tables, ready for the judges to taste and rank.