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A passion for all things sweet

By HENY SISON, The Philippine STAR Published Jan 13, 2021 3:00 pm

Well, we made it to 2021! We have all had our share of personal struggles, but it was also a year of growth, resilience, resourcefulness, and adaptability amid trying times.

The term "para-paraan" found a more positive connotation with many of us finding and discovering different means of livelihood, and honestly, through necessity, some have even found their second calling. I myself took to learning how to teach online and, in the process, discovered a whole new world of possibilities. Nothing beats the human connection.

Though I do miss guiding my students hands-on in school, the noise and busyness in our kitchens as aspiring chefs would julienne carrots on the countertop, as they learned fancy knife cuts or piped icing on a cake in a cake-decorating class. I miss our sit-down graduation affairs where we prepared a full-course dinner, from appetizers to dessert, to celebrate and proudly present the graduates of our Essentials of Cooking and the Essentials of Baking and Pastry Series to their family and friends. So far, we have had 88 batches, and last year has been put on hold.

Hearing success stories of our graduates doing well here and abroad makes me proud of our school. They are family to me even long after they graduate, and I look forward to hearing from them, like a fulfilled mama to her kids.

Hearing success stories of our graduates doing well here and abroad makes me proud of our school. They are family to me even long after they graduate, and I look forward to hearing from them, like a fulfilled mama to her kids.

So imagine my joy to hear from one of the graduates of our Essentials of Baking and Pastry Series Batch 61, Robert Makabali. We have a lot in common. Just like me, he started in a different profession, as a visual window display designer in New York for 34 years, but he cannot deny that baking is his true love.

Just like me, we both grew up in the kitchen as eager assistants to our mothers, whom we believed cast magic spells on everything they created because they made it from scratch, just working from a few ingredients on hand that didn’t look like much and ended up with something really spectacular, a sight to behold, plus a scent that delighted the senses.

  “Mang Badi” Ensaymada

Now we are the guardians of their legacy and, as I have shared my mother's heirloom recipes in my school, Lola Badi or Mang Badi — Robert's mom, as she is fondly known — would be smiling from heaven to know that her son has a thriving business of spreading happiness through his baked creations from his signature “Mang Badi” Ensaymada to a wide range of classic and trendy cakes and bread.

Based in his hometown of San Fernando, Pampanga, his business is born of a passion for anything sweet. Combine this with his artistic streak; his goods are nothing short of masterful creations born of an artistic soul. For him, baking is a creative outlet for his self-expression. Visit his Facebook page, Desserts by Robert Flavios, to see his ideas spring to life with his beautiful, custom-made cakes. They are so pretty it would be a shame to eat them but paradoxically, a shame not to eat as well because only the finest ingredients have been used.

He loves the idea of baking and decorating as an art form, and his creativity has inspired him to create new flavors from heirloom recipes inherited from his Mang Badi and his aunts as well. It is definitely not to be touched or tweaked because it is his mother's vaunted recipe of ensaymada. After all, it is a treasured classic.