A dream borne out of quarantine

A dream borne out of quarantine

By Melissa Ann Garcia

IT ALL started with a dream…a dream that someday the family shall have a business which every member enjoys: bonding with good food, favorite pastries, juices, tea & coffee, & sumptuous meals.

The more the dream becomes stronger when the youngest sibling in the brood of four got afflicted with a chronic ailment — Rheumatic Heart Disease — which caused her some delay in her total well-being and development. “We need a business which she can handle with minimal supervision when the right time comes,” has become the goal of the family.

But what, when, where and how to start the business was the biggest question mark… Everyone has to work hard to augment the family’s income to pay for the bills and support the study & the lifetime meds of bunso.

Then came Covid-19 pandemic causing major lockdowns to workplaces and home quarantine worldwide including the Philippines.

Our quarantine life

My kuya Mark has over 10 years experience in the BPO industry specializing in recruitment. Doing the Work-From- Home scheme for March to May, he got redundiated in June because his unit was hardly hit by the pandemic. There were no more health workers to recruit and many elderlies have already died of Covid at home care services in UK, his designated area. 

As for myself, I have 3 years experience as cost  accountant and analyst in a restaurant chain before the pandemic. I was pursuing career growth as Business Analyst in a big firm but was put on hold due to the pandemic.

Mich graduated HRM this year sans the ceremony. She has always been regarded as the family’s chef because of her meticulous ways in the kitchen couple with a “good nose” grocery, culinary and kitchen organization skills at home for the meantime.

The family decided for bunso, Marie Angeline, for a home-school setup with emphasis on learning, developing life skills.

So unless until there is cure for Covid, the family opts to embrace the “new normal:” simple, frugal living, being clean &  hygienic, and staying more at home with the family.  We, Garcia siblings agreed to consider WFH or online job they can do even on a part-time basis  in line with selling, services, back office support, tutorial, etc. 

Healthy, natural food snacks

While doing so, we “experimented” on and concocted healthy snacks during the quarantine with the banana-choco and carrot-pineapple breads turning out to be top favorites. These would be would be cooked in the non-stick ware  instead of using the oven to save on electric bill. Then we would be conducting product testing to relatives and friends by sending them samples.

Buying some basic baking tools by June, we decided to test the oven for our faved choco-banana bread. As it turned out good, Mark texted a friend to buy the second loaf at P250. From that trial baking and single purchase, we bought ingredients for the banana loaf and coaxed our friends to buy.

The biggest order came on third day when Mich’s college friend at Teletech-Fairview gathered 15 loaves order from her fellow BPO workers.

With the warm reception from family and friends and receiving orders each day, the siblings decided it’s time to come up with a business name and Chef MG Food Products was born.

Who is Chef MG?

We are Chef MG! — Mark, Missy, Mich and Marie Angeline. 

Mark took HRM but switched to Broadcast Communication later when he started working at the BPO. Missy, of course, has 3-year stint in the restaurant chain to hone her palate. Mich is the legit chef owing to her HRM diploma.  Marie Angeline, for her part, has been training in cookery and baking from her ALS schooling at St. Francis School. 

Immediately, designated duties were put in place. Mark is the main seller, product taster/developer and delivery man. Missy handles the cost & accounting and delivery booking needs while she also attends to grocery and marketing with Mich. Chef Mich sources for quality, affordable supply while function as the main baker. Angeline attends to neighborhood deliveries while together with Mom & Dad, also does the research and development.

New business, bigger dreams

Chef MG’s immediate plan is to come up with more healthy bread products utilizing fresh fruits and vegetables readily available in the market such as the squash, potato, corn, sweet camote, ube, etc.

Mich: “If we can come up with a Bahay Kubo loaf, then we will do it. We want the healthy side minus the trimmings, as much as possible, to do away with too much carbs, cholesterol, sugar, sodium and unnecessary flavorings. Missy and I have allergies, so we want to do away with allergens. Angeline, too, and other peeps with healthy needs like her, is a major consideration, in our product development.” 

Mark: “For the drinks, we would be concocting healthy drinks as well to go with our breads. I love Mark coffee, so that’s no. 1 on the list.

Missy: “And soon, we would be offering ‘paluto’ for our favorite viands such as menudo, kaldereta, adobo, tofu sisig and kare-kare. Our friends, mostly way back from college, know our parents cook well. They’ve been wanting to taste these foods again that were prepared during mine & Mich’s 18th birthdays.”

Mark: “Then maybe we can have a snack counter right here at home where a number of friends & customers can come following the current health protocols. And then soon, God-willing, we can have our own coffee shop, why not?” 

So every time you purchase Chef MG’s choco-banana, carrot loaves and their upcoming products, you are helping young people, the four MGs, reach their dreams and full potential as  business owners and contributors to the country’s economy — especially at this time of the pandemic.

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