If there are positive things that came out of the pandemic, it is that the boredom of being stuck in the house doing nothing drove a lot of people to take up productive hobbies, such as baking. In the case of chef Cathy Tagle, her love for baking drove her to finally make a childhood dream come true — putting up her own bakery — yes, even during the pandemic. She did comply with the rules of the IATF. She stayed home, converted the ground floor of her three-story house into a commissary and accepted orders for pick-up and delivery via courier only.
Officially launching her hobby-turned-business in September 2020, about a month after her dad, Danilo Sioco Tagle, passed away, she called it Ampa’s Bakery in honor of her dad. His grandchildren, including Cathy’s own kids, called him “Ampa,” a term of endearment derived from the word grandpa. He loved breads and had particular favorites from certain restaurants and bakeries. Fortunately, Cathy got to bake breads for him before he passed on, and from these creations by his eldest daughter, among his favorites was her whole-wheat, sugar-free pandesal.
“He would walk from his house to mine to buy P50 to P80 worth of pandesal, whatever is hot and fresh, whether it was regular or whole wheat, sugar-free pandesal. But he liked the whole wheat, sugar-free better because he was diabetic,” says Cathy.
It was Cathy’s late mom, Nilda Manansala Tagle, who served as her mentor and had the biggest influence on her cooking and baking.
“Ás a little girl, I would watch and assist my mom when she baked her cakes, pies and breads in the kitchen. After she finished pouring the batter of chocolate cakes into pans, I would lick the leftover batter on her mixing bowls and spatulas,” recalls Cathy, who started baking at age 12.
Baking became a serious hobby for her after her mom enrolled her in an extensive summer baking and cooking class that lasted for two weeks. She had good company, as she attended the daily classes with the daughter of her mom’s good friend, former United Airlines country manager Girlie Ty. Since then, she would bake breads at home. Her passion for breads was initially rooted on “the magic of the yeast.” She was fascinated with how the yeast worked in producing different kinds of breads, and this kept her constantly experimenting in the kitchen during her free time. She particularly liked experimenting on European artisanal breads, which, for her, had so much character and depth.
When Cathy finished college and started working, her path kept leading her towards the food industry. She managed a restaurant and the food and beverage division of a hotel for some time. Since she lived south of Manila, she even partnered with the Cypress Employees Cooperative of Cypress Manufacturing Inc. (now Infineon) in Gateway Business Park, General Trias, Cavite, to put up a deli sandwich bar. There, she offered gourmet sandwiches, which the employees loved, but at home, she kept baking and developing breads, cakes and pastries with the thought that one day, she would put up her own bakery and she would have to be ready with her own creations to sell.
Cathy has so far perfected the recipes of a few cakes, including brown butter carrot cake, and adapted her late mom’s cinnamon roll recipe into her Nilda’s cinnamon rolls with cream cheese frosting. But breads remain on top of her priority list — and so, before Ampa’s Bakery finally came to be, she was already taking orders from home and baking breads for family and friends during her spare time.
Now, with Ampa’s Bakery, she regales her South of Manila’s clientele with her Pinoy classics, such as pandesal, pan de coco, Ube Twist, dulce de leche, Spanish bread, putok and monggo bread, which she makes sure are available daily. The artisan and specialty breads, though, are by order or depend on the freshest ingredients available. Aside from her Pinoy classics, her best-sellers include garlic and rosemary loaf, sili labuyo loaf, dill bread, lemon and olives loaf and Cream Cheese Twist. Just recently, she perfected her cranberry-walnut sugar-free bread, which comes in the form of a loaf, a batard and dinner rolls.
Even more recently, Cathy expanded business to Eatcetera Marketplace along Presidents Avenue, BF Homes, Parañaque, with a physical store that customers can visit and choose breads to buy.
Several artisan loaves are on the shelves everyday, and soon, Cathy’s deli sandwiches will also be available on a daily basis.
With the recent expansion, Cathy is in high spirits, confident that her hobby-turned-business will not just be her one big dream come true but will also be for keeps. “I will do my best to make Ampa’s Bakery something that will last not just for my lifetime but around five generations down mine. I am very happy that God is blessing the work of my hands, as He has grown the business in less than a year’s time,” she says.
In return, she gives back. She has just employed a deaf-mute and plans to train him to be her assistant baker in the Parañaque store.
Dedicating Ampa’s Bakery to the Lord and honoring her parents’ legacy, Cathy Tagle continues to bake her way to happiness and stumbles on success and showers of blessings along the way.