What happens when two long-time friends who have been toying with the idea of embarking on a business venture together finally get to sit down and talk about it? Why, an actual, detailed business plan, of course! And if those two friends happen to share a penchant for good food, a commitment to promote Pinoy heirloom food and a deep appreciation of sweet (and not just savory) traditions, expect the business venture to zero in on Pinoy dessert or meryenda.
This is exactly what happened to Angelo Comsti, chef, writer and food entrepreneur; and Edward David Mateo, one of the most talented young pastry chefs in the metro. Long-time friends who would often throw business ideas to each other, Angelo and Edward decided to finally start a business together this year. They initially thought of offering different kinds of ginataans — from ginataang bilo-bilo to ginataang mais and ginataang monggo, all the way to more regional variants such as Bulacan’s paralosdos. Bent on this concept, they made a presentation to a big shopping mall for possible stall spaces. Just when things were starting to shape up, the coronavirus pandemic happened, followed by the lockdowns.
During the initial stages of the lockdown, they observed that people were making and selling ginataan from their homes, and so they decided to change their concept and switched to kakanins, or native delicacies, when Angelo tasted a biko made by Edward and thought it was the best one he has had. Lockdown on the kakanin concept. Minatamis PH was thus born.
Their commitment is simple: Offer only the best possible kinds of kakanin by maintaining high standards of food preparation and ingredients.
“We use only freshly squeezed coconut milk. It’s a no to canned ones. We don’t make shortcuts or use thickeners. Our staff mixes latik using a kawa until it is brown and thick,” explains Angelo.
Minatamis PH started with just biko (glutinous rice cooked in fresh coconut milk and brown sugar, then topped with coconut caramel, packaged in a nine-inch round aluminum pan within a signature box) and sapin-sapin (three layers of different flavored steamed rice cakes, topped with coconut milk curd and packaged in a six-by-six-inch tub), then maja blanca (sweetened coconut milk custard studded with corn kernels and topped with coconut milk curd, packaged in a six-by-six-inch tub) followed. Two weeks later, cassava cake (native cake made from grated cassava, coconut milk and condensed milk, topped with a baked cheesy custard and packaged in a nine-inch round aluminum pan within a signature box) joined the roster of special kakanins.
“We figured that during the COVID-19 pandemic, people would want something comforting and familiar. So we thought of kakanins that we ourselves love and would often crave for. The four we’re offering are some of our favorites. Of course, being kakanin lovers, we have lots more. Hopefully, we can sell them, too, soon,” Angelo adds.
Well, their choices proved to be spot on. The first customers who tried the rice cakes really liked them, and so business took off by word of mouth. Orders kept coming in and, not too long after, Angelo and Edward had to adjust their system to accommodate the growing number of orders.
Still, given the circumstances of the quarantine that continues to be enforced in Metro Manila and surrounding areas, the partners managed to keep their business tight and their staff minimal by following an efficient system.
“We make our items available only twice a week. maja blanca and cassava cake are available on Thursdays, and biko and sapin-sapin on Sundays. We start taking the week’s orders on Monday. That has been the routine every week,” says Angelo.
The order form for Minatamis PH products is posted in the brand’s Instagram account (@minatamisph) every Monday for the week’s orders. Customers fill up the form with their information, pay via bank transfer or GCash, send Minatamis PH proof of payment and a confirmation of the order is made. For an additional P150 on top of their order, customers then just sit back and wait for their respective orders to be delivered via Happy Move on Thursday or Sunday (depending on what they ordered) at around 1 p.m.
“Why do they get their orders in the afternoon? It is because we cook and finish their kakanin on the day of delivery to guarantee that they really get the best kakanin there is. Sometimes they get them still warm, coming an hour or so after it is pulled off the oven,” Angelo assures.