Thursday, June 21, 2018

Stories from the hearts of (kitchen) stars


What are your food memories?

A lot us have precious memories about cooking, sharing, and eating meals with the people we love. Maybe it’s waking up on Sunday mornings knowing that lola is baking pan de sal and making breakfast. Maybe it’s coming home from a long day at school or work and being greeted by the smell of dinner cooking on the stove. Or maybe it’s when you’d be feeling down or sick and someone would make you that soup that you’ve been craving for.

Whatever it is, it is easy to see why the kitchen is the heart of every Filipino home. It holds our fondest memories and keeps the histories of our families—our triumphs and tragedies, our loves and losses.

The endurance of ages

Ann Puno raised her children on home cooking. Back then, she was just a simple housewife with an amazing talent for baked goods, and her children must have grown up relishing homemade meals, occasionally paired with her amazing desserts.

Ann Puno

However, she wanted to share more with her children than just her care and her cooking. She wanted to teach them to be independent. And this she did by example. “I wanted to teach them that they can do anything,” she says. “That all they needed was [some skill and hard work], and they can earn a living.” She began selling her cakes to her husband’s co-workers, and as expected, they were an instant hit. So she sold more. And even more.

Today Ann Puno is the entrepreneurial power behind Ann Puno’s Kitchen, and amazingly, the oven she used to bake that very first cake almost 30 years ago is still churning out perfectly cooked meals. It’s no wonder she swears by the longevity of her La Germania range.

The 30-year old oven, which she got from her mother when she moved to Manila, is now back in her hometown, after being with her in her own kitchen. “It was so old that there were knobs and parts that needed to be replaced, but there’s a service station right near [my mother’s home] and in the end, it was restored to be almost like new!” Ann beams, full of praises for the excellent service team, and explaining how it was easier to specify the required repairs because the team spoke the native dialect.

Partner for life

For some, finding the right partner is tricky. But when you do find The One, it can be magical.

Chef Rolando Laudico

Some cooking superstars, like caterer and restaurateur Chef Rolando Laudico, were lucky enough to have started out their love affairs early. “I have been cooking since I was seven years old and it has been La Germania all the way,” says Laudico. This partnership has seen him through the establishment of his catering service, enduring with him through the long hours of hard work, uncomplaining despite the heavy demands he had to make of it. “I have used the same oven since day one of my catering business,” says Laudico, “and it has served me really well. We use it for several hours a day, every day, and that’s really heavy use, for several years. That’s value for money.” So when it came time to choose a personal partner in raising their children in their own home, the chef and his wife chose a classic, a name they had grown to love and trust. “I’m sure the oven in my home will last even longer—I might even get to pass it on to my kids,” he jokes.

Making moments count

Few things can be more hectic than the life of a married pair of doctors raising two young children. But medical school sweethearts Andrew and Almira Vicencio, make it look effortless.

Almira and Andrew

Because they’re so busy, both admit that neither one spends much time in the kitchen, but meal times with the kids have become central to their schedule. “It’s important to us to eat meals together,” says Dr. Andrew, “we even try to minimize the use of gadgets at the table. It’s important time we spend together as a family and we want to give our kids these happy memories.”

When it came to their first range, they didn’t even consider anything other than a La Germania, which they had bought to replace the one that Almira’s mother had first given the newlyweds. It reminded them both of the happy Sundays where Almira would wake to the smell of the rich bean dish her mother often made on weekends.

Kitchen stories from all around

It's not unusual for both hobbyists and masters alike to love their La Germania ranges and have great memories of working in the kitchen or feeding their families.

These three homes are only a handful of those who own legacy La Germania stoves and have heartwarming stories of how their entire family grew up with them.

In the coming months, La Germania will be re-launching a new set of Kwentong La Germania, featuring all new faces and voices, but the same story of trustworthiness and reliability, of meals and memories made in the kitchen, and a legacy that spans generations.

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