Why this key lime pie is truly special

OCTOBER 27, 2022

Why this key lime pie is truly special
Dickoy’s key lime pie
Why this key lime pie is truly special
Dickoy’s key lime pie

It has been my joy to share new finds with you on Kitchen Rescue for over two decades. Yet I remain fascinated by how old-time favorites can be reinvented over and over again, each time with brand-new flair and a distinct touch unique to the hands that cook them.

Here’s a find that’s both sweet and tart, and very inspiring.

Juan Magdaraog is a website consultant for Asian Development Bank. He suffers from Pompe disease, a rare hereditary disorder that causes progressive muscular and cardiovascular weakness. As such, he is a member of the nongovernmental organization ThisAbility which advocates for those who suffer from rare diseases. He is also the self-taught genius behind Dickoy’s Homemade Favorites.

It was Magdaraog’s longing for the dishes prepared by their family’s longtime cook Aling Fe that piqued his interest in the kitchen. After her passing, he toyed with the idea of exploring the joys of cooking.

But given his disability, cooking for Magdaraog was a challenge, since physical movement was difficult.

But, determined to work around the difficulties, he immersed himself in the theories and techniques of cooking while getting additional learning from various YouTube channels. Then, aided by his caregivers and with the assistance of his brother Steve who studied culinary arts, Magdaraog’s desire to cook became a reality.

He took delight in cooking and enjoyed the freedom it brought him. Magdaraog said he loves how one can get by with just a basic understanding of the recipe, while tasting and adjusting as one cooks along.

Mind-opening moment

Baking didn’t interest Magdaraog at first. He disliked the precision required to achieve a favorable outcome. He abhorred having to weigh and measure.

It was during the pandemic, while watching a YouTube channel, that Magdaraog was inspired to give baking a try. He attributes that mind-opening moment to boredom and to being stuck at home with not much to do.

His first pursuit was key lime pie, which happens to be one of his favorites.

In his kitchen, things work differently. It begins with Magdaraog teaching himself the recipe and the process. When it becomes clear to him, he gives instructions that are easy enough for his assistants to follow.

It was tough in the beginning, he recalled, as none of them were knowledgeable in baking. But it turned out to be a productive endeavor. In the end, they came up with a decent key lime pie.

Confident with the success of his first creation, Magdaraog moved on to making more difficult pies.

Why pie, of all things? Well, Magdaraog is a pie man. He just absolutely loves pies, that’s why!

He set out to create a childhood favorite, apple pie, then proceeded to crafting his own chicken pot pie (now a bestseller) and pecan pie. He later delved into making quiches. His quiche, according to my sister Manang Babot, is delicious.

Special place

Since his first experiment, baking has become something Magdaraog loves to do at home, though he admitted he still has much to learn. However, he is grateful for the opportunity to have turned his humble pandemic project into a business, even if it was not the intention in the beginning. He only came to sell pies upon the prodding of his neighbors.

Magdaraog gives credit to his cousin, Peachy Juban Notter and her husband Edwin, both overseas-based chefs, for refining his creations via Zoom, to make them good enough to sell.

Now, baking does not only give him pleasure but also a means of livelihood for his staff at home. It paved the way for the opening of Dickoy’s Homemade Favorites, an online store that carries his nickname.

Key lime pie, said Magdaraog, “will always have a special place in my heart, not only because it was the first pie we learned to make, but it is a treat that I really like. The mixture of tangy and sweet plus the texture of the custard constantly reminds me of a sunny day on the beach, a feeling that brings most of us joy.”

Dickoy’s offerings are not limited to pies and quiches. It also whips up Vic’s Black Pepper Crabs, the specialty dish of Magdaraog’s dad and a recipe his father perfected in Singapore. Prior to his passing in 2022, it was Vic Magdaraog himself who cooked the crabs they sold. “Dad was always a very supportive person, and that was his way of helping me,” said Magdaraog.

Starting a home-based business is hard, but “pursue what you love,” advised Magdaraog. Dickoy’s took a lot of work and the profit was not much in the beginning, but he continued to do it simply because he wanted to, and because it employed people.

Magdaraog’s dream is to leave the world a little better than he found it. He’s well on his way to fulfilling that dream.

Visit @dickoysph and @juanbkm on Instagram.www.reggieaspiras.com; @iamreggieaspiras on Instagram and Facebook.


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