Like other students, Ethan David Santos-Paris, a 17-year-old incoming Grade 12 Hospitality Management student at Southville International School Affiliated with Foreign Universities (Sisfu), spent the first months of quarantine juggling schoolwork and his hobbies.
“Our school year just ended this May. The things I’ve been doing during the quarantine are mainly activities I don’t get to do as much as I want, such as editing videos, reading books, playing video games, and spending more time with my family. My family is very busy. Before the ECQ (enhanced community quarantine), my mom and my aunt would usually see patients even during Sundays,” said Ethan, whose mom Twinkle is a front-liner in the fight against COVID-19.
Cooking is another thing that Ethan has devoted time to during the lockdown. It’s been his passion since he was a kid.
“I was diagnosed with dyslexia when I was five years old and underwent reading therapy for the next seven years. Academics were hard,” he said. “But cooking came so easily for me, that’s why I chose this track for senior high. During my first term, I received honors. It was a first for me. When you really love what you do, you can overcome a lot.”
He remembers cooking his first egg when he was around six years old. “I was very proud of it,” he said. “I loved watching all these cooks prepare food with so much focus and passion. Up to now, I’m still mesmerized by many top chefs such as Gordon Ramsay, Jamie Oliver and Marco Pierre White. I also enjoy watching chefs on YouTube such as Joshua Weissman and Binging with Babish.”
Ethan’s mom enrolled him in summer cooking and baking classes in his school before he entered ninth grade. “That summer had a great impact on me. Mostly, I am self-taught. My uncle and I usually stay up late playing online games and when we get hungry, I’m usually tasked to cook our midnight snack. But when I got into Sisfu, my knowledge expanded, since we were taught a more sophisticated version of the culinary arts.”
He discovered a love for cooking Italian food. “I still remember asking my mom to buy the ingredients for risotto and getting a call from her at the grocery. She was shocked at the price of saffron. I also like cooking Japanese. Our trip to Japan, specifically to Tsukiji Market before it closed, was such a treat for me.”
His own version
When the sushi bake craze started during quarantine, Ethan’s food-loving family wanted to try it, naturally. “There was a week we had sushi bake for three consecutive days.”
The future chef was inspired to make his own version. “I always want to be given the chance to let people, besides my family, experience food I created. I had my own ideas, but I also got some from my family. We love to eat! It’s a popular dish, but I made it my own by tweaking a little bit here and there.”
Encouraged by his family, Ethan launched Sushi Bake by Ethan. “This is my first business, but it’s a family affair. One of my aunts is teaching me the entrepreneurial side of things. My grandmother and another aunt is helping me with procurement of ingredients. My two uncles promised that they will help with the delivery. As of now, they want shirts made with the sushi bake logo. My grandmother who I call Mom wants her shirt to read Momager.”
There are so many people selling sushi bake from their kitchens at home. We asked Ethan, what makes his different? “I try to strive for quality. My family and I agreed that we would only use authentic ingredients, no shortcuts. At the first bite of my sushi bake, you’ll get a tangy and sweet taste. After that, there will be a slightly salty and crunchy experience. A small kick of spice comes immediately, which makes the experience even better. Out of all that, you’ll get that nice taste of crab meat as well as that umami taste of the rice.”
Sushi Bake by Ethan has been getting great reviews from his first customers. “Reminiscent of authentic sushi from reputable Japanese restos,” said one.
“Ubos agad. Sarap eh!” wrote another.
Ethan’s version is also more affordable than a lot of other sushi bakes available now—one tray is just P370, and two trays go for P700.
Ethan said, “This recipe is a part of me and I just want people to enjoy it as much as I do. Eating good food, in my opinion, always makes things better. And we sure need that now.”
Sushi Bake by Ethan:
Tel. 0998-5565765; Instagram @sushibakecvt