I was 4 months pregnant when I graduated from culinary school, I find myself wondering what my next move would be – what should I do, where should I start, & where do I go from here were the questions I had in mind.

So I started passing my CV to hotels & fine dining restaurants & got a lot of phone calls for interviews & hiring. But because I already have a family of my own, I didn’t have a stable decision. There were so many things I wanted to do – I wanted to continue my culinary studies abroad & train abroad, or work here in Manila & get some more training from Master Chefs.

I was able to train abroad for a while & in different culinary schools here in Manila. And those trainings helped me a lot in my culinary journey.

It wasn’t easy for the most part though. There were times when I felt like giving up just because it’s easy to. A lot of people didn’t believe in me. They said that the kitchen is only for ‘men’. They said lipstick & fire don’t match. But I guess they stand corrected. It is not about muscles & size – the brain is the strongest muscle in our body. And whatever the brain can think of, it shall achieve – it is just a matter of determination & willpower.

I started out with food orders & cupcake orders 2 years ago. Family & friends were convincing me to venture into catering, but I was quite hesitant as I didn’t know the abc’s of catering.

It didn’t take long until I gave in to an offer I couldn’t resist. Bernardino Hospital offered me to cater for their conferences & meetings. And so on the 16th of October, 2010, Flavors on Fire (Catering Services) was born.

There was nary a single spoon nor chafing dish that is owned by FOF during our first service. All the stuff used during our first service was all outsourced from my friend, Jackie, who also owns a catering service.

Flavors on Fire started with me as the driver, me as the marketing manager (both literally going to the market & marketing the business), & with me as the secretary. I started out with only two staffs – my cousin & our household helper – with me as the cook & the Chef.

Now there’s Executive Sous Chef & buddy,Neo Solano who joined us after a couple of months. It pays to have somebody honest & loyal in your team - somebody who is learned & speaks the same language as I do. We two make a great team because my weakness is his strength and vice versa – we two complement each other.

My culinary journey was no walk in the park, but it’s all worth the trouble. Culinary is all about hard work, passion, dedication, & discipline - it’s all about standing for 10 hours straight with a growling stomach, it’s about going to work 2 hours before your colleagues even had the chance to get up from bed, it’s about lifting heavy stockpots without asking for anybody’s help, it’s about working extra hours even if you’ve worked a bazillion times harder than a battalion of soldiers, it’s about being one of the boys even with your lipstick & powder on - it’s all about making a difference.

Truth be told, I have no right to say I’m a good chef – I still have a lot to learn. Nobody has earned the right to say that he/she is a good cook or chef, as it would be too arrogant to say something as such. Taste is very subjective - let others judge your creations.

I’m trying to learn more secrets of the trade every single day. Learning is a continuous process & I believe that no matter how good one has become, there should always be room for improvement. And also, one should never let a minute of fame get into one’s head for this will be your downfall.

I owe whatever little knowledge & skills I have to my classmates & great chefs of ISCAHM & Aubergine – they have driven me to strive to be the best that I can be & to excel in a world that was once only headed by men.

© 2011 Flavors on Fire. All rights reserved.