Monday, June 04, 2007

Wish I Could...

Check this out!

I need tons of money to rent a flat with a large air-conditioned kitchen, a built-in oven and storage space for my ingredients.

The business registration will only take half a day, there are weekend bazaars to join and birthday parties to cater to, but I need my KITCHEN AND OVEN! ARRRRGGGGGGHHHHHH!

I used to have a food delivery business, called Peppermill Catering, which was reborn as The Food Factor (I know, ugly names). My specialties included beef lasagna, rellenong manok (stuffed chicken) for Christmas, several cheese-based dips with breadsticks, 2 salads whose recipes were handed down by my grandmother, my mom's famous old-fashioned apple pie, beef pie and paella, and rum truffles for dessert. Later on I added Pinaputok na Kesong Puti and Mango Pannacotta. At one time I dabbled in baking and selling my mom's secret butter cake by the slice. When I stopped catering my best friends and I started Pastry Haven, specializing in bite-sized desserts for low-budget weddings and Christmas giveaways. We offered our services to several big caterers. Our bestsellers were a fudgy chocolate almond bar, peanut paisley brownies, lemon squares, food for the gods, my friend's amazing chocolate chip cookies, snickerdoodles, and my mango cream cake. We were poised to study cake decorating and enter the lucrative world of wedding cakes and high-end pastries when one of my partners left for the States, the other had to back out and I eventually got married.

So I really, really miss that time of my life when I was in the kitchen, surrounded by the smell of freshly-baked sweets or roasts, rushing about fulfilling orders, waking up at 3 am to start cooking for my weekend retreat clients, going off to various markets and haggling with my "sukis" (choice vendors), buying catering stuff in Quiapo (a quaint, eclectc, noisy place in old Manila), delivering goodies and seeing the smiles on client's faces, planning menus and inventing new stuff, testing recipes on my family and friends, researching, reading, buying cookbooks....

It had its downs, of course. I worked weekends, holidays, nights. I received complaints at times, I made enough to survive but I could see my corporate peers getting more. I applied to various malls for spots only to be turned down or offered pathetic locations because I wasn't McDonalds or Jollibee or Red Ribbon. I was dead tired. But I was happy. Like the former corporate slaves in the NY Times article above who are struggling with their cupcake businesses.

I like what I'm doing now, teaching, cooking and experimenting a bit, developing recipes. But it lacks the chaos of the kitchen. Even in Canada I lived a crazy life cooking breakfast for 100 people on my own.

Call it a third-life crisis (I am past quarter-life and far from mid-life). I'm suddenly wishing for a home-based food business (I don't want the expense, headache and overhead of an outlet) where I can flex my cooking muscles, and get my son involved in two of my very first loves - FOOD and CHOCOLATE. I get to see him often, shut down the biz anytime I want, and live the best of both worlds. Too much to ask? Maybe, maybe not. One day I know the stars will align, and I can take up my dream 7-month intensive course at the CIA (with hubby and kids by my side, of course; and if possible, a year apprenticing in France haha I wish) and start cooking up a storm.

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