Everyone who is anyone in the Philippine food business would know who Roland and Jackie Laudico are. This chef couple is some of the key people who have helped to shape and grow Filipino cuisine, pushing it out on a more global scale. Since they began their careers, they have been involved in creating well-loved Filipino dishes, and coming up with ways to present them differently, while still retaining the distinct flavours each cuisine is known for.
Since opening their private catering service almost two decades ago, they have established a household name and developed a number of restaurants and establishments that stay true to their Filipino heritage, i.e. Guevarra’s, OK Café, Patisserie Filipino, and Chef Laudico’s Feast. In 2018, they have also released their first joint cookbook, “Chef Laudico Flips Out”, which featured over a dozen of well-loved recipes and desserts they have served to their reputable clienteles.
Food Pulse PH sat down with Executive Pastry Chef Jackie, to talk about the Philippine restaurant industry in the hope to inspire us from the lessons she learned so far in her career.
Despite the success they have garnered over the years, Chef Jackie reveals that the journey has not always been smooth. It’s difficult to run a restaurant if it’s your first foray into business and there are only very few people who have made it in their first run.
One of the challenges that many go through is getting a prime location, for instance in malls where there is heavy foot traffic. These shopping places have been taken over by bigger brands.
Another is having a comprehensive list of suppliers as there are so many in the market. Even someone like her, who has been in the industry for so many years, has found it difficult to get in contact with new companies that offer better equipment or product.
When it comes to creating a menu, it’s both an art and a science. As a restaurant owner or food entrepreneur, one must strike the balance between what food you want to serve and what your market wants to eat. It’s also important that one does a due diligence and research to have a better understanding of why a certain food product is popular. Deciding on dishes, then, needs to be done in a more collaborative way – it can’t always be about what the chef likes.
Food presentation is another thing that also comes into play. However, even if people now take photos of their dishes and upload them on Instagram first before tasting them, chefs still have to make sure that the food tastes as good as it looks like in pictures.
For anyone looking to join the culinary world, Chef Jackie would tell them to “be ready.” It’s hard work and students must be sure that they want to get in this kind of profession. One has to open to learning new things, like for instance new techniques and the science behind the dishes that one is going to be making.
Having a set recipe is ideal, but as a chef, one needs to be open to making changes and adjusting parts of it to fit the chef’s need or the client’s. Chef Jackie, for example, still refers to the first culinary book that she developed in school. It gives her the ingredients needed, and the correct measurements along with their portion sizes.
And finally, it’s always a good idea to be authentic. As Chef Jackie mentioned, food business is still a robust business but it’s evolved – there are a lot of opportunity but as a chef, one has to stay true to himself or herself in order to survive and thrive in this industry.
For Chef Jackie, there’s no shortcut to achieving success. Everything ties in together: the food, having a great ambience and service in the restaurant. All of these contribute to the kind of experience we would want our customers to have in our food establishment and encourage them to come back for more.