It is women’s month after all, so why not honor the moms in our (my) life! 🙂
Maga is my mom Lulu.
The name “Maga” came from Sam when she was learning how to read. Sam would look at the word “gramma” and somehow she’d read it backwards. My mom liked it so much the monicker stuck, and Maga it was. She’d joke around with people, and say Maga was really short for maganda (in Filipino, “maah-gan-dah” means beautiful). Well, isn’t it true? 😉 When Jamie was born, we just automatically taught her to say Maga and so now everyone just calls my mom that.
My mom has always loved food. LOVES IT! She’s passionate about it. She brings new things for us to try and is always handing out food to my girls. Our family grew up with a lot of parties in the house, and my Mama Mia would invite and showcase her cooking at these shindigs all the time! A lot of people raved about it a lot too, if you don’t mind me saying so (It’s okay, I didn’t inherit the cooking talent gene!). Friends and family knew her for her signature lemon pie and would look forward to the Christmases when we’d give it away. Otherwise they’d request for it. My grandmother passed away three years ago, but occasionally the parties would still happen in the house and a few dishes would be still be served.
My mom however being the early riser that she is, decided that breakfast gatherings were easier on the digestive system than the usual heavy dinner feasts; and at one point, she decided to serve homemade tuyo (dried herring). Normally, we buy this already bottled up and ready to serve, but my mom and her desire to try it at home (alongside the tools she had in the kitchen) decided to give it a go. As it turned out, the visitors liked it a lot. She served it at several more breakfast parties (to different people), and eventually she started getting order requests for it. 🙂
I first tried my mom’s homemade tuyo when she brought some bottles to Chapel Hill on a visit last year. I had some friends over and she was in charge of breakfast that morning, so she served it with rice and scrambled egg. The ravings were consistent; very tasty, with a slight hint of spice but nothing overpowering. When she got back from the trip she and an uncle of ours decided to produce the bottled tuyo in larger quantities and distribute it locally. By the time Christmas came around, my mom had produced and sold over 500 bottles! Her darling cousins (over at Two Tots) were very supportive and they included the tuyo as part of the products they sold at their last open house. They even designed a logo and printed a label to put on it! I bought and gave away a few bottles myself, and received calls after that from recipients asking me where they could get more. Many were pleasantly surprised that the gifts were made out of the kitchen in my mom’s home.
Somewhere in between, my mom would bring different other dishes to potluck lunches and dinners. She’d bring old family favorites, such as callos, and homemade brownies (I remember smelling them all the time when I was growing up!) and yes, the occasional lemon pie. To a few very good friends, she’d already accept orders for these other dishes as they wanted to serve it at their parties as well. Being the food-lover that she is, she’d even experiment on other dishes that we’d discover on our food trips, and it was then when we (my mom’s children and child-in-law) seriously sat down and thought: why don’t we make this a viable business? It seemed to have all the right ingredients to begin with: a food lover at the helm and absolutely delectable food as the output. All we needed was a name, a logo and of course a little marketing.
Things seemed to fall into place because my siblings, my husband and I filled the gaps quite nicely. My sister (who made the super cute My Mommyology logo) revised the original Maga’s Kitchen logo (so that it was more versatile and could be used beyond dried herring) , my brother fixed the strategy, I put in the marketing, and my husband looked at it all from an operations perspective.
So that’s how Maga’s Kitchen came to be! So far, the underlying common thread between all the dishes that we serve, is the fact that we grew up with them as favorites in our home. It’s simple really, but at least we know that it’s something we can share with much gusto. Right now, it’s really just the tuyo that is in production (ready to be picked up or delivered to you in a day’s notice!). We’ve been told though, that it tastes better if you let the tuyo sit for a week before popping it open. A bottle goes for P195, which is fairly good value considering that it is jam-packed with rows of dried herring.
Maga’s Kitchen does take orders for callos (half-gallon per order) as well. Please be sure to give us ample time to make it (as mom believes, it’s much better when freshly made). Other dishes are in the works, and we’ll definitely let you know when they’re ready for orders.
I’m actually quite pleased with our little project. And to think it started as a discussion over food (It’s not surprising, Filipinos always gather and build ideas when there is food!). Somehow I feel like we really can’t go wrong, if only because there’s a lot of love that’s going around for this venture of ours. Everyone loves my mom (she is very lovable after all – and that is a fact!) and they know that she serves quality food. This entire endeavor is also a labor of love for us children for our mom too. It’s sort of our way of saying “thanks for taking care of us, and now it’s our turn to take care of you!” Hopefully, it’s something my girls can grow up with and appreciate too. After all, they did give my mom her brand name! 🙂
Maga’s Kitchen will be at the upcoming Mommy Mundo ExpoMom Bazaar. We’ll bring bottles of tuyo and we’ll also take orders for Callos, and possibly some other dishes and desserts too, so see you there!