Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Enjoying Our 5th Year of Wearing Aprons...and Wiping Tables

Historically, we're not really good at throwing parties and commemorating special occasions or holidays. Due to the F&B industry's repetitive, rountinary, and fast-paced nature, we often lose track of time. "Oh, it's 2013 tomorrow? I thought it was still 2009." When our manager/chef asked me to think of something for our fifth anniversary I told her that I've got nothing on my head at that moment. I'm just that kind of person who believes that ideas fall from the sky while brushing your teeth and not borne out of a brain-storming session inside a conference room.
Two weeks to go before our anniversary, I sat down and tried to come up with some ideas. I came up with 5 promos to commemorate our 5 years of existence. It was great but I knew deep inside that this still wasn't the "idea that fell from the sky." And then an idea hit me out of nowhere: commemorate all the people you've met and worked with for the past 5 years and make a Facebook yearbook. And that was the beginning of my 2-week quest of downloading and researching photos of the people who made Cafe Antonio possible. Thanks to my sister, Grace, for calling it a "virtual yearbook." It's cheap, saves printing, saves lay-outing, and it has amaaazing reach. 

I attempted first to write down a list of significant people who became part of the cafe. Realizing that this approach would be too limiting, I scrapped the idea and decided to cluster people into specific categories: employees and staff, barkadas, musicians, couples, families, etc. Each day our Cafe Antonio Facebook page featured one category of people (without revealing what the next day would feature) and posted individual and group photos of them accompanied with a brief inspirational writeup. After a few days of this "yearbook research routine" from morning until midnight, I realized that I still failed to feature everybody we met and made friends with. But then again, I really didn't expect myself to be a good  nostalgia sleuth so I apologize for that. Anyway, after all the researching, reminiscing, and thanking, the virtual yearbook experience brought me down to my knees and made me want to explode with joy and thanksgiving. As we watched our NHK documentary, "Asian Smile: The Coffee Prince"  with our guests during the anniversary celebration, I remembered the three reasons why I got myself into this business: to create jobs,  make opportunities, and give people a shot at life. The cafe has changed places, faces, phases, and coffee beans for the past five years but I hope and pray, in spite of the many changes, that it would still continue to accomplish those three things.
CAntoneers Jason and Jorge went with me last April 20 to Magnum Opus and Luca & Tosh's Coffee Tasting Event in Paranaque hosted by Jonathan Choi and Roland Rubin of Magnum Opus and JC Martinez of Luca & Tosh. In the event we tasted specialty coffees from Nicaragua, Guatemala, and Sumatra. The baristas showed us how to brew coffees using a siphon, pourover, and espresso machine. In the event we reunited with  PNBC 2013 finalists Andy Luyugoy and Larry "Blend" Andrada. Also, we met former Cafe Antonio workshop attendee, Migs Eslava. Hope to see you guys in Laguna!
The cafe would like to officially welcome our newest barista, Dada! She used to be our OJT from TESDA but after completing her required hours she applied for a spot in the bar. As of now, we're still training her to make drinks. She teams up with Elmer upfront in the dining area.

This is Matt, our Farmer of the Week. He and his friend, Jess, provided organic lettuce for us for a week. Hopefully in the future, we can meet more organic farmers and gardeners and provide them with extra income by supplying organic produce for our cafe. As of this writing we have sourced local organic produce from my small circle of farmer friends: Brian Belen of Ato Belen's Farm (cherry tomatoes); OJ Gomez of Maquiling Hillside Delicacies (feta cheese); Edu Foronda's garden in Jubilieeville (tomato and basil);      Dr. Bes Calub and Hansel Calub's farm in Tarlac (basil and lettuce); Mon Garcia's backyard in Bay (honey); and my personal backyard in Bonita Compound (thai basil).  We're very amped to see local and independent backyard farming getting some buzz here in Laguna!

Meet Chef Marisse! A civil engineer by profession, Ate Marisse, just finished her short course in culinary arts this April at the International School for Culinary Arts and Hotel Management (ISCAHM). Congratulations and continue to cook more awesome stuff!
One of our Chef's Specials for the month of May: Beef Wellington (Puff Pastry stuffed with Beef Tenderloin and Mushroom Duxelle) with Red Wine Sauce served with Blanched Green Asparagus,        Php 289. All Chef's Specials come with a FREE boxing session coupon from Red Gloves Boxing Gym,        Los Banos.

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