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Making ‘Himpossible’ possible

Himpossible.recipes, an online cooking class project of chef Him Uy de Baron, tries to simulate the experience of attending face-to-face classes for participants while being in the comfort and safety of their own homes.

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“With Him, all things are possible.”

This was the first post of @Himpossible.recipes on Instagram (IG) on 25 October 2020. But chef Him Uy de Baron, the one who posted it, was not referring to himself. He was talking about God. In the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, when life seemed so uncertain, and having just lost his job as head of ABS-CBN’s food and beverage division as a result of the non-renewal of the network’s franchise, chef Him found himself facing the most difficult challenge of his life. But he looked to God for strength. Backed by his family, he drew inspiration from his original passion, which was teaching, and the concept of Himpossible.recipes took shape in his mind.

“Around July, when I knew I was going to lose my job at ABS-CBN because of the franchise problem, I started thinking about holding online cooking classes. I wanted to do something low-risk that offers high reward, something I can do at home with my family. I thought of teaching because it’s something I have always enjoyed doing,” chef Him related.

He started by trying out some classes with some neighbors and friends in September to fine-tune the online cooking class concept. A foodie friend, Spanky Enriquez, suggested calling the project Himpossible, a play on words that cleverly included chef Him’s name in it.

“The name had a ring to it, and the kids liked it. It also seemed to serve as a reminder to us, as a family, that even when we go through difficult times, with Him, with God, all things are possible,” he said.

Chef Him at work with his son, Rocco. / Photographs courtesy of Chef Him Uy de Baron and dolly dy-zulueta

Thus, he began the Himpossible.recipes journey with the IG post, “With Him, all things are possible,” accompanied by an image of the cross.

Himpossible.recipes is actually an online cooking class project of Chef Him. What sets it apart from other existing online cooking classes of fellow chefs is that Himpossible.recipes tries to simulate the experience of attending face-to-face classes for participants while being in the comfort and safety of their own homes. Chef Him provides his students with a kit — an insulated bag containing almost all of the ingredients to be used in class arrives in the homes of his students a day before the actual class to give them time to prep the ingredients and do the necessary pre-mixing and pre-cooking chores. Only very common items, such as salt, pepper and fresh milk, have to be provided by students.

“Part of the struggle of cooking, especially when it comes to foreign cuisines, is sourcing all the right ingredients to make the dish. So, we do that for them. We source the best ingredients for them.

We partner with suppliers and brands to give our students the possibility of turning out the best possible outcome for their hard work during class,” explained chef Him, who is proud of the fact that Himpossible.recipes is completely family run and it runs so efficiently as such.

Squash flower fritters with basil mayo.

Since the beginning, it has been chef Him, his wife Kirsten, and their kids Nala, 14, Suki, 11, and Rocco, seven, who have put together Himpossible.recipes. Suki even helped develop the logo, when she made a circle and doodled a caricature of her dad, which everyone found adorable. They test recipes, and everyone has to approve before they put together a class based on such recipes. Chef Him conducts three classes per week. Wednesday classes are express classes meant to help home cooks with quick and easy recipes. Friday classes are repeats of popular classes, and Saturday classes are themed classes which feature three or more recipes. It is therefore important for the express classes to work around light and easy-to-do recipes, and for themed classes to always feature new and exciting recipes that revolve around certain cuisines.

Since the family wanted to give participants a hassle-free and enjoyable learning experience, they made IG the hub of Himpossible.recipes. Class schedules are posted there, so those interested can easily book them. The process of registration, payment and verification is also simple, after which they start a Viber thread that includes all participants per class, where everyone receives updates, their copies of the recipes, details on the delivery schedule of their respective kits and their password-protected Zoom link to log in to. The kit, which contains almost all the ingredients needed in the recipes, is delivered to participants’ homes via Goodbanda riders a day before the actual class. It comes with instructions on proper storage of the ingredients, particularly the fresh meats and produce, and on the pre-mixing and pre-cooking chores that need to be done before the online class starts. Finally, during the class itself, Chef Him personally guides everyone along as they prepare each recipe, with instructional videos shown as well, whenever necessary.

Putting all these details together are members of the Uy de Baron family, with Kirsten doing the marketing of the ingredients and everyone lending a hand in the packing and logistics at home as Kirsten puts the kits together and arranges deliveries. As for the videos that become part of the class presentation, Nala and Suki help in the shooting and editing of these videos. Nala also sometimes helps in the packing of the ingredients so the kits get organized and delivered more efficiently. As for Rocco, young as he is, he already serves as the Chief Taste Tester (CTT) of the group.

Polpette sub with fresh mozza.

The three kids are so into it that Himpossible.recipes sometimes offers kids’ classes.

“We’ve done kids classes, where all three of them take on the challenge of teaching. Each one has a dish to prepare, and they do their demo and talk about it. It’s good for them to handle such classes because it encourages other kids to join. So far, our kids’ classes have been super-booked.”

Helping the family put the whole thing together are two staff members of Chef Him Food Consultancy. They help with bookkeeping, preparing the recipe decks, ordering supplies and sourcing ingredients. So it’s a team of seven — four adults and three kids — behind Himpossible.recipes, which runs like a well-oiled machine six months after it staged its very first online cooking class.

Chef Him Uy de Baron with his two girls.

Himpossible? Not at all. Last week, specifically on 21 April, I personally experienced the Himpossible system when I enrolled in the Italian-Americana Night, where we prepared polpette sub with fresh mozza and squash flower fritters with basil mayo. Here, I share photos of the dishes that I prepared at home using the kit sent to my home and the instructions and guidance of Chef Him.

Not bad. Not bad at all, I should say.

 

 

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