From left: Jeannie Javelosa of Great Women, Trish Panlilio of Mulberry Door and nawwTy’s kitchen, Jenny Yrasuegui of Backyard Farms,Melanie Go of Holy Carabao and Michelle Aventajad of Mothers Who Brunch —PHOTOS BY EARVIN PERIAS
Trish Panlilio and partners serve up meals with a purpose
When restaurateur Trish Panlilio throws a meal, expect it to be delectable and stylish.
At the press lunch announcing her series of fundraising dinners with her partners, the table setting was an elegant display of colorful floral-patterned plates, embroidered linen napkins and fresh flowers. She served watermelon gazpacho, aubergine roll with lemon crabmeat and romesco sauce, braised marsala chicken over a bed of quinoa salad, and carabao milk panna cotta with raspberry coulis. The guests refreshed themselves with cucumber lemonade topped with diced apples.
Panlilio’s recipes made use of ingredients from partner-suppliers for three charity dinners at her Mulberry Door restaurant. The pasture-raised chicken from Backyard Farms was brined for tenderness, while the liver was used for the paté. Holy Carabao Farm provided the organic vegetables that added color and texture, while carabao milk made a velvety panna cotta.
Jeannie Javelosa, chief visionary officer of the Great Women project, compared Panlilio’s life to her recipes. She has known Panlilio since she was six years old, and has seen how she has weathered
challenges and intrigues, and evolved into a motivated businesswoman.
“She’s been in and out and turned a somersault. Life gives you weird stuff and fantastic stuff. It hurls you lemons and watermelons. What do you do with them? You make gazpacho and a fantastic lemonade,” said Javelosa.
Five years ago, Panlilio used her culinary and entertaining talents to put up a catering/takeout à la carte business named nawwTy’s kitchen. It has since been the umbrella brand of her commissary; the Gourmand Market, her seasonal market of good food; and Mulberry Door (MD) at Forbestown mall.
As an entrepreneur, Panlilio said her biggest test has been handling human resources. For so long, she has worked with her household staff in the catering business. In the restaurant, she has to accommodate the idiosyncrasies of her employees. She has also learned to adopt to the fluctuating business cycles. Nevertheless, the restaurant has stayed afloat with special events and walk-in customers.
To keep on growing, Panlilio always tries something new. Instead of having a party to celebrate Mulberry Door’s second anniversary on May 17, she is presenting several benefit dinners called “nawwTy’s kitchen Gives Back.” This series is the first time that her target is to fill up the 60-seat restaurant with dinner tickets priced at P7,000.
“This is bigger because we have more people involved and they are my good friends. I’ve been wanting to create dinners that use Filipino artisanal products,” she said.
The first dinner on June 18 is a tie-up with Holy Carabao, whose beneficiary is the Samahan ng Organikong Industriya ng Laguna. In August, livestock from Backyard Farms will be cooked in different ways. The finale is a dinner and fashion show from designers using fabrics from weaving communities under Great Women.
The series is testament to the perseverance of entrepreneurs. At the press launch, Panlilio’s partners shared their stories.
Holy Carabao was established by Hindy Weber and her business partner Melanie Teng Go to make organic vegetables accessible to families through door-to-door delivery, e-commerce and retail. The products are harvested from their farm in Sta. Rosa, Laguna, and also sourced from their network of farmers.
Twelve years since its inception, they’ve been challenged with logistics, said Go. A lot of spoilage occurs when farmers transport their foods in the heat of their cars, and when the produce is stored in supermarket chillers with fluctuating temperatures.
Despite the hurdles, their marketing has created a good recall for Holy Carabao.
Their advocacy is to educate the public on connectedness with nature, the benefits of organic food and the importance of healthy soil. The farm in Sta. Rosa frequently conducts informative farm tours for school children.
Backyard Farms was founded by Tisha Ang-Dominguez when her doctor revealed that her ingestion of commercially grown chicken fed with growth hormones and antibiotics had an effect on her breast milk. Consequently, her baby developed rashes.
Since Dominguez had a livestock farm in General Santos City, she researched on healthier alternatives. Pasture-raised chickens are healthier because they are free to roam around to eat fresh food. Free-range chicken, meanwhile, have access to the outdoors or two square feet of open space to roam around during the production cycle.
Managing partner Jenny Yrasuegui has been marketing the poultry in Metro Manila. Her challenge is to explain why pasture-raised chicken costs P375, while the commercial counterpart is P150. She said eating healthy is a long-term investment which results in less risks for cancer in old age.
Backyard Farm’s beneficiary is Best Buddies Philippines, an organization that aims to help people with developmental disabilities live normal lives. Country director Michelle Aventajado understands their situation, since she has a daughter with Down Syndrome.
Best Buddies visits schools, trains faculty advisers and works with special education centers. “Statistics show that when people with intellectual disabilities reaches 21, they won’t interact outside of their family. If we are not diligent in creating a world where they feel accepted, they’ll be socially isolated. Once they become young adults who look for gainful employment, we help them find jobs,” said Aventajado.
Great Women works with weaving communities from all over the country. It develops and promotes their textiles to prospective buyers. Javelosa said the dinner proceeds will go to the Great Women Stock Purchase Fund. Great Women provides pure cotton threads of international standard for the ethnic-inspired textiles. Its partner designers suggest to the weavers how their fabrics can be woven to appeal to a certain market.
“They weave; we buy from them and sell. We want to help women micro entrepreneurs who have no access to funding or banks,” Javelosa said.
On Panlilio’s project, Javelosa said, “This is about women helping women. Trish has got the grit. This is what entrepreneurs are all about.” —CONTRIBUTED