September 10, 2013 – If there are two words that perfectly match each other, happy and food are on top of the list. Throw in the word family and you have the delightful trinity valued by any Filipino. Happy Ongpauco-Tiu knows this truth by heart as she grew up in a family whose love for food started the successful Barrio Fiesta restaurant chain. Who does not know and crave for their classic family recipe – crispy pata?
“Our lola loved to cook and she tried to pass on the recipes to us. Growing up, we developed the passion for it – food. We not only enjoy the cooking, but the eating, as well; most especially the gathering around the table,” Happy shared.
Her grandmother, Mama Chit, as Happy fondly calls her, is the grand matriarch of the Barrio Fiesta clan. It is no wonder then when Happy also chose to pursue the restaurant business. Her own company now handles specialty restaurants that include World Topps, Bento Box, and Pamana Resturant in Tagaytay.
Busy as she may be as an entrepreneur, Happy still considers being a mom and a wife as her top priority. It is in her kitchen at home where the real test is at – cooking for three lovable kids and a supportive husband, creating new recipes and experimenting with different techniques.
“My husband likes to challenge me. Knowing that I come from a family who owns Filipino resturants, he does not want me to cook Filipino dishes. So I always have to cook something international. But it's fun because I love to cook and I am able to experiment and continue to learn.”
Whatever dish Happy whips up for her family or her clients, she always follows the best cooking advice she has ever received: Use the freshest ingredients.
“In terms of taste and quality of the food, it still boils down to the quality of the ingredients, di ba? Luckily, my husband's passion is farming so it goes hand in hand. All my ingredients at home are all organic stuff from our farm. If you use the best ingredients, it really provides a big difference.”
But in a tropical country like ours, maintaining the ingredient's freshness is a challenge. Happy then lets us in on a secret she has discovered herself.
“Aside from the ingredients, kitchenware and appliances affect the outcome of the food you serve. That's why I like Sub-Zero. My Sub-Zero refrigerator has extended the shelf life of the ingredients crucial to my cooking.”
Sub-Zero’s range of refrigerators has taken food preservation to the next level by incorporating an air purification technology developed for NASA. Its system refreshes and 'scrubs' the air in the unit every 20 minutes – removing any bacteria, mold, viruses and even ethylene gas that causes fruits and vegetables to ripen faster.
“From milk down to vegetables and fruits – all these really last longer in a Sub-Zero compared to a normal refrigerator.” Happy said.
A dual refrigeration system in a Sub-Zero also helps in maintaining freshness for longer periods of time. It ensures the most optimal temperature set points by treating the refrigerator and freezer as two separate and sealed compartments. Air between the two is never shared; ensuring that your frozen foods last longer and your greens stay fresher.
For a food expert like Happy, these innovations are important in ensuring the quality of the food she cooks. Happy even shares that she is not very brand conscious with other things but she is very particular with the equipment she has in her kitchen.
“In my home, the kitchen is my space. Like I told my husband, 'I rule the kitchen, I choose my equipment di ba?' Because this is what I like doing. Aside from this being my favourite hobby, cooking is also my career. So I really have to invest in the best brand. A Sub-Zero refrigerator may cost more but it's worth every centavo as it keeps food fresh longer and withstands the demands of a busy kitchen like mine. Investing in a Sub-Zero is one of the best decisions I ever made,” Happy revealed.