Fourth-grader Paul Zamora, who learned to save through the buy-and-sell of school supplies, dreamt to be an entrepreneur. Growing up at his parent’s cafeteria, he assisted in the preparation of dishes.
It was but natural for him to pursue Culinary Arts at De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde. He then joined a year-long, hands-on apprenticeship at the Greenbrier Hotel Resort in West Virginia, USA.
To support his mom Lulu, they baked pastries until she was diagnosed with cancer. The family venture abruptly closed. Eager to rise through this challenge, the son opted to be an airline flight steward. Somehow, he wished to fulfill his mom’s earlier dream to become a flight stewardess herself. However, his career in the sky was cut short due to the Covid-19 pandemic. To add to the misfortune, the matriarch passed on.
Despite setbacks and afflictions, trials and tragedies, he found refuge in his culinary roots and recreated his mom Lulu’s apple pie to great success!
We had a chat with Paul as he continues to expand the 21-year-old Lulu’s Pie legacy:
“The apple pie is the cornerstone of Lulu’s Pie. Made with muscovado and coconut sugar, sliced apple chunks are simmered in its sauce to preserve its body and texture.”
“Our chicken pie is encased with a cornmeal butter crust — a flaky finish. It is filled with my mom’s chicken ala king, which I have enhanced with roux and mirepoix.
“We feature five flavors of pillow-soft bun ensaymadas: classic, ube, dulce de leche, strawberry shortcake and torched. The strawberry shortcake is a standout. With layers of home-made strawberry jam and vanilla cream, it is topped with fresh strawberries. The torched ensaymadas are an ideal marriage of melted butter, crème brulee and salted cheese.”
“The pandemic slowed down our operations and the lockdowns, even more so. However, we have gained attention through social media. We have increased from one to three bakers. Ultimately, good relationships with online customers is key to maintain good sales. But most of all, it is due to our excellent products.”
Challenges in baking
“Baking was my Achilles’ heel. I had a difficult time with the ensaymada recipes. But I never wanted to give up. I am blessed that our pillow-soft bun has gained the love of our customers! I will continue to learn more, listen to constructive criticisms and embrace new techniques.”
“I cannot live without sugar. It is irreplaceable. A primary ingredient for baking, it emulsifies, improves flavor and consistency, and serves as a natural preservative.
The colored set of measuring spoons is my preferred tool, as baking is all about accuracy. I prefer to use them for safety reasons. Should it break or chip off, I can easily spot it on the mixture.”
“My go-to dish is pork spareribs noodle soup with lots of cilantro. A simple noodle dish, its secret — good broth.
“My comfort food is suman with latik. A Lola’s boy, we used to share suman for meryenda.
“On the other hand, Chinese is my international cuisine of choice. I grew up with estero food in Binondo, where my mom used to take me. On all my visits to Hong Kong, everything tasted so consistent. The use of herbs and spices are healthy.”
“I love wakeboarding, an extreme water sport attached to a cable with a strong tension. Whenever I am in the water, I release my inhibitions, clear my thoughts and find peace.”
“My college batchmates, valuable consultants and friends are RV Manabat of Chef RV’s Kitchen in Biñan, Laguna, and Betty Javier of the Four Seasons in Miami, Florida.
“Chef RV has the passion for teaching and selflessly shares culinary tips with no hesitation. Chef Betty’s overseas posts do not stop her from incorporating her heritage in her creations. She also offers pastries to Filipinos.”
Advice to aspiring chefs
“Be limitless. Be a jack of all trades — master of none.”
For orders and inquiries, contact Lulu’s Pie via 0956-0539480, or through social media accounts facebook.com/luluspie and Instagram (@LulusApplePie).