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What’s cooking? Something to cheer us up these pandemic days

By FLORABEL CO-YATCO, The Philippine STAR Published Apr 15, 2021 5:00 am

If there’s anything life has taught me, it’s the realization that change is always constant, whether you like it, are even prepared for it, or not.

Ever since lockdown started over a year ago, no one, including myself, expected that it would (or still continue to) last this long. We initially closed our establishments down during the Enhanced Community Quarantine in the interest of our customers’ and staff’s well-being thinking that, like almost anything, it would eventually pass.

Once we realized that things weren’t going to go back to the way it was anytime soon, we knew we had to go back to the drawing board in order to make our business survive while continuing to serve our loyal clients at the same time.

Once we realized that things weren’t going to go back to the way it was anytime soon, we knew we had to go back to the drawing board in order to make our business survive while continuing to serve our loyal clients at the same time.

Cooking at home has now become the norm more than ever, because there was no other choice: people enjoyed it, took advantage of it, and some even made small ventures out of it. But at the end of the day, some would still crave for dishes from their favorite restaurants or simply wanted to take a break and just order in. Given that, we knew we had to fulfill a new requirement: to give my customers the kind of food they could enjoy at home.

My usual customers already knew how to order my potluck party platters or their go-to dishes from my menu, so, besides adding my platter offerings, we’ve also developed frozen, ready-to-cook, as well as ready-to-heat meals that anyone can stock up on, keep, and just pop into the oven or stovetop. Frozen foods such as our Jumbo Barbecue, chicken inasal, beef tapa, longganisa or even some no-fail beef caldereta or embutido were just a few dishes that flew off our shelves.

Bottled delicacies have also been quite popular for those who want an easy food fix without worrying about freezer space. I’ve since added signature pasta sauces that anyone can heat up, add noodles and serve – quick, easy and truly hassle-free.

I was also actually fulfilling a lot of requests and orders for bread and pastries during the lockdown; besides the traditional Pinoy dishes I’ve mentioned above, people were craving old-fashioned, homegrown baked goods. Pandesal, pan de coco, Spanish bread, pianono (yema-filled sponge rolls), mochi bread, monggo bread, ensaymada, savory dinner rolls and yes, even ube-cheese pandesal, were just a few that sold so well. Customers and clients really enjoyed them because of the pillowy-soft texture and how the bread would stay soft even after a week!

 Old-fashioned, homegrown baked goods are popular: Savory dinner rolls, Spanish bread, ensaymada, even ube-cheese pandesal, were just a few that Sisa's Secret sold so well. For bread and pastries from Sisa’s Secret, call 0995-468-8872.

Not only did we concentrate on offering new products, we also had to establish new channels for our customers to reach us. Aside from contacting us directly to order and making our food available for curbside pickup, we’ve also established partnerships with delivery platforms, as well as updated our website to accommodate online deliveries to make things even more convenient for our clients.

 Bottled delicacies have also been quite popular: Florabel's line includes Toasted Mamon,  Banana chips,  Peanut Cookies, Barquillos and Adobo peanuts, among others. Florabel bottled delicacies can be ordered at  0917-536-0568.

The biggest lesson I’ve learned during this pandemic is that in uncertain times, you can only bank on what you can do and control in order to get things moving – and that no one will wait for you. I keep in mind that the longer I wait, the less opportunities I’ll be left with, and I have to seize it every chance I get; not only for my family but also for the hardworking staff who are relying on me for their livelihood.

In the years I’ve spent investing my time in my business, it’s always important to improve and to never stop. My biggest goal was to always create delicious food for people to enjoy and remember. With our food, I’m just very grateful that people still look for it and, most of all, still continue to enjoy it, too.

Banner photo caption:   The platter: Pasta and Maple Glazed Bacon. Available for delivery from Florabel Restaurant.