I try as much as possible to wake up like 7 AM or 8AM, but because I work the whole day and evening, I don’t wake up easily. I even ask Ms. Sally [of Hey Handsome] to call me at 8:30 or 8:00, because my alarm clock doesn’t wake me up anymore. When I wake up I check my phone; sometimes I receive calls of employees taking a leave of absence, so as early as 6:00AM, I’m getting text messages for work already. It’s like a 24/7 job, but it’s nice.
I’ll go here to Hey Handsome in the morning, and then to Your Local. Nicco Santos and I align what we’re going to do today, what we’re going to do for the whole week. If I have the time in the morning I’d go to the mall for 30 minutes, before heading to Your Local, but as much as possible I don’t want to use my free time. I get self-conscious when I’m taking time off for myself, while other people are still working then.
What is ‘me time’ for me? I get ask that question a lot. It’s usually the car rides on the way to work, from home to Hey Handsome to Your Local and back. That’s my ‘me-time,’ my cell phone time, my Facebook time. Sometimes I enjoy traffic because it relaxes me. I sleep in the car.
Back in fourth year high school, I didn’t know what to do with my life. I didn’t know how to start [anything], so I did cooking for fun. Eventually I fell in love with it, so I pursued it in college.In college I always excelled, so my teachers would sign me up in competitions.
Then I went to Florida, Perrywood for an internship. When I came back to the Philippines I wanted to work right away after, because I was getting bored. A family friend helped me out, and I found work at Crowne Plaze Hotel in Ortigas. I realized I was missing the restaurant vibe, because in Florida I was stationed all around– I tried the bar, the hotel, the restaurant. I love how fast paced the restaurant could get. Every day is a new day. You’re able to do things differently and face different kinds of people on your own. Every day is a different experience. So I texted one of my friends, Nico Junio, and he said he was working at this brand new restaurant– it was called Your Local. It opened in February 2014, but I began in April.
My responsibility is focused on the quality of food; we’re training to make everyone on the staff a triple threat. It’s part of our culture: to train everyone to do everything. I wasn’t forced to do everything actually it just so happened that I was inspired to know our business and to know our restaurants. In Your Local, I started out as a line cook, and then they promoted me to sous chef.
We started learning food service, so I was serving food too. Then I needed to learn accounting, because I had to know our budget. Then, apart from the making the food, is purchasing them, because we needed to know what ingredients to order. I also do the hiring and interviewing, because we don’t want hire someone who is not aligned with our values and culture. When we started, we did the accounting, and then the payroll. We basically did everything down from the papers, permits, purchasing, equipment, furniture. We are trained in everything. It’s a lot work for one person, but it’s nice. That’s why I always want to work the whole day because I have so many things to tackle.
Our uniform has different colors, but my personal favorite is the black one [with ‘handsome’ written on it’]. It goes with our black apron. As for me I go to so many places so I need to change. I was so happy when Nicco gave this shirt [gestures to what she’s wearing]. It’s from Uniqlo. Ever since then, I bought it in every color, and that’s what I wear. I don’t look so much like a girl in it, but it’s fine.
Before, sobrang grabe ako magdamit. I used to wear a sando at the restaurant and then I’d change into sandals when I’d go out. Sometimes I’d wear heels. I love heels, I used to have a collection of heels… but I don’t anymore. Now, I wear clogs or tsinelas when I head out. I simplified my life to be honest, from wearing super colorful things, dressing super nicely and girly. I simplified my choices and colors of clothes to something consistently more efficient, presentable, and on-the-go.
We don’t go out, to be honest. If I go out, I go out with my workmates. Like every night, after working, we’d go and have a drink. We go get coffee or eat. I mean you’re in the industry of food already, but then we also eat out after, so my dad would always ask me, ‘Nasa restaurant ka na hindi ka pa ba kumakain?’
On Sunday, it’s a day off at Hey Handsome, but we’re open at Your Local. So first thing in the morning, I go to church, and then I’d squeeze in some time in the afternoon with my family. Then I meet up with Nicco so we can align and do R&D. We are not focused on what other people think of us. We are not focused on the awards. But we are focused on what the team is thinks of us, because these are your partners. They’re the first ones tasting the food every day. We focus on what we think of ourselves. I think that shocks everyone.
WITH ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY ANDREA ANG