I guess it's no secret now that I am a huge fan of Yummy Magazine. This is also one of the main reasons why I am where I am right now. Every month, I slowly read every single section, browsing through each and every recipe and earmarking the ones that I will be trying over the weekend. As much as I have accepted the fact that I have a brighter future as a chef that as a baker, I can't help but try my luck every time I read Chef Aileen's column in the magazine.
Just imagine how excited and starstrucked I was one Wednesday afternoon as I was tasked to interview her for Spot.ph.
Once again, this article is for the website's ongoing promotion with Nescafe called Gold Spots.
Related entry: Introducing Gold Spots Judge, Chef Aileen Anastacio
SPOT contributor and Yummy’s Associate Publisher, Fran Haw, sits down over coffee with Pastry Chef Aileen Anastacio - Gold Spots panelist, owner of Goodies and Sweets, columnist, and entrepreneur.
First and foremost, what is your definition of a foodie?
I guess it should be somebody who can appreciate food in its different levels: from the low cost and simple to the elaborate and fancy.
Do you consider yourself as a foodie?
Of course! I actually like exploring food. When I go out of town or out of the country, I don’t just try the fancy [restaurants or spots] but I also try eateries along the side walk and in food courts. I’m interested in [learning about] new flavors and the way the locals cook their food. Culture is partly presented in one’s food.
Where’s your favorite food destination?
For me, it’s Europe, especially in Italy. I love how rustic and homey the country is. While French is good, Italian dishes are so simple to make and the flavors are all there.
How about here in the Philippines - do you have a favorite provincial cuisine?
My mom is from Bulacan and my dad is from Bataan so I grew up with those types of food. However, I also love Bacolod, which is a great place to start for a foodie interested in Filipino cuisine. I have to say, [Bacolod] is one of the provinces that, wherever you go, the food is just so consistently good.
When did you start baking?
I started baking in grade school. It was actually my sister who was doing the baking and cooking and I was just assisting her. Then after college, we were given a 6-month vacation by my mom, so I was in the States and I started taking short courses, and one of them was in cake decorating. After that, I took up lessons in CCA (California Culinary Academy).
When did you start your own bakery and cafe, Goodies and Sweets?
Goodies and Sweets has been in the business for 20 years. It was started by the family of my best friend. Back in 2000, I was running my own business, and it just so happened that around that time, nobody wanted to handle Goodies and Sweets, so I told my friend that we could do a joint venture wherein we combine the best-sellers of my company and the ones of Goodies. I also gave the restaurant a new look and a new direction and the rest is history.
Where did you get the idea of making small sized cakes?
I got it from a chef whom I trained under; he owns a patisserie in San Francisco, La Nouvelle. Their cakes are all individually sized and that was also how they were being made in Europe. So I applied the same practice here in Goodies and Sweets.
Let’s talk about your food heroes. Who do you look up to in the industry?
One chef that I’m really impressed with is Jacques Pepin because I find him very dynamic, especially during his younger days. Right now, I think he’s the dean of the French Culinary Institute. There are also a lot of good chefs, like the ones on TV (Nigella Lawson, Anthony Bourdain and Barefoot Contessa, to name a few). Locally, I consider Heny Sison as one of the best in the pastry world.
So what keeps Chef Aileen Anastacio busy lately?
I run three stores. I also have a commissary which is a kitchen that supplies to cafes and restaurants, and I do consultancy as well. Aside from those, I also have a show, True Confections, on QTV and I keep a column at Yummy.
What is your favorite food indulgence?
I love the Bannoffee Pie. If I were to order a dessert right now, I would get that. I also love Pavlova, which I always get at Sala.
Let’s talk about Gold Spots. What are your standards for spots that would make it to this list?
I would expect that they have a dish wherein they’re the only ones who have it, or maybe there’s a dish at that spot that’s unforgettable. Some restaurants have their specialties, like a salad or a lamb dish, and customers would go back just to have that - that’s a Gold Spot right there.