There is perhaps no single institution that has been more influential in Philippine culinary arts as Maya.
Between the contributions of the Maya commercial brand of baking ingredients and the educational impact of the Maya Kitchen Culinary Arts Center, Maya has shaped Philippine cookery as people know it now.
The legacy and the practical nature of Maya are captured in its 50th anniversary book, “Simply Delicious: 50 Years of Good Food from Maya,” published by Anvil Publishing, Inc.
“To mark the golden anniversary of the Maya brand in 2012, Liberty Flour Mills and Liberty Commodities Corp. embarked on a project to record Maya’s milestones and its impact on the Philippine food scene. It turned into a double celebration with the Maya Kitchen Culinary Arts Center marking its 50th year in 2014,” the book states.
Reflecting the broad impact of Maya, “Simply Delicious” is a multifaceted publishing offering. It recalls the history of Maya, from Liberty Flour Mills’ pioneering baking mixes to the establishment of Maya Kitchen as led by the Maramba and Fajardo families.
The book takes a big-picture view of Philippine baking, with food historian Felice Prudente Sta. Maria documenting the history of baking in the country, followed by a tour through Maya’s various contributions such as the Maya Cookfest and its many enduring promotional campaigns, most notably its New Gen Baker campaign.
Maya Kitchen has been among the country’s most prolific producers of popular cookbooks, and “Simply Delicious” melds legacy with practicality as the book features more than 150 “kitchen-tested, classic and modern recipes.”
That’s a lot of really good recipes. The most impressive is the book’s array of cakes, something Maya is also known for. From Basic Butter Cake to Mango Cheese Roll, from Maya Bibingka to Pandan Roll, “Simply Delicious” presents the how-to behind the brand’s baked goods.
But “Simply Delicious” isn’t just about the sweet—the savory is well represented, from dishes derived from culinary exchange tours (Morcon and Nasi Goreng) and other sources. As she’s always done, Maya stalwart Rory Subida edited the recipes; Sandee Masigan and Stanley Ong collaborated on the nearly edible photographs.
Maya Kitchen has taught some culinary heavyweights in its history, but heavyweights have also taught in Maya Kitchen. They’re represented here, too, each one with two trademark recipes: Miguel de Alba, Fern Aracama, Glenda Barretto, Sandy Daza, J Gamboa, Robby Goco, J. Luis Gonzalez, Seiji Kamura, Vicky Pacheco, Boni Pimentel, Myrna Segismundo, Jessie Sincioco, Efren “Boy” Vasquez, Amy Besa, Ariel Manuel, Nancy Reyes-Lumen, Martin Kaspar, Patrice Freusion, and the most interesting inclusion, TV “Junior MasterChef” winner Kyle Adrian P. Imao.
Imao’s inclusion, plus the array of text and recipes from Maya’s New Gen Bakers, is testament to the continuing role Maya plays in Philippine food. If the earlier parts of “Simply Delicious” showcased Maya’s past, the book’s last sections look to its future.
The inimitable Lourd H. de Veyra provides an essay about the future of food, along with others
(Disclosure: This writer makes a small contribution). “Food—real food, and in our case, that’s ulam and kanin on a plate or a semblance of it atop anything that has a semblance of a table,” De Veyra writes. “Anything less and the Filipino feels incomplete.”
Maya had done many things: sparking the baking industry, training restaurant masters, and empowering generations of home bakers, among others. It continues to do so.
That flavorful continuity—fostered by all things Maya—is what “Simply Delicious” celebrates in all its aspects. The book is available at National Book Store.