MANILA, Philippines — It only started as a way to challenge yourself during the height of the pandemic, but actor Marvin Agustin’s online Cochinillo and bakery business now has its brick stand and mortar – with more to come.
Last July, the actor opened Secret Kitchen at the Food Hall of the Uptown Mall in Bonifacio Global City, Taguig. It had its soft opening last May.
Secret Kitchen is the physical store that offers its version of the famous Spanish roast suckling pig. It offers Cochinillo, which can be ordered whole the day before, as well as Cochi Plates, a generous plate of slices of crispy-skinned Cochinillo; choice of salad, rice, noodles or a combination of any of the three; and soup made from simmering Cochinillo bones for hours. It is drizzled with Toum, a tangy and savory Lebanese sauce made with crushed garlic and egg whites.
The company also offers its bakery and pastry products.
From pandemic hobby to booming business
Like many who baked at the start of the pandemic, Marvin went to his kitchen and started baking baked goods, like Banana Cake and Carrot Cake, which he affectionately calls Kerot Cake. during his quarantine.
Fans took notice and orders started pouring in. The actor then decided to buy a larger oven. When he finally bought it, he has a new problem. While his cooking time had been reduced to a day from the previous two-day non-stop cooking with his sister, he now has more downtime and was thinking of new ways to maximize his expensive oven in the garage.
“Gusto mong i-maximize (oven), doon nanganak ‘yung Cochinillo. Anong magagawa natin sa oven? Eh, cravings can kami noon ng roast pork. I like to create dry rubs on steaks so unapplied ko dito. Naka -chamba! Ayun . Cochinillo was born,” the actor explained to Philstar.com.
He also enlisted the help of his favorite suckling pig supplier who taught him how to butterfly the meat.
Cochi was born on his social networks where he initially proposed the Cochinillo. Then followed his baked goods under his Mr. Vin Munchies brand. He has now added several cakes including Mango Cashew Sansrival, Chocolate Caramel Cake, Strawberry Cheesecake and Ube Cheesecake, the ube being from the famous Good Shepherd brand. It also offers an unrivaled toasted almond cake that melts in your mouth and ice cream and Cheddar Ensaymada cheese.
In December 2021, Marvin faced one of his biggest setbacks. On Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, he was inundated with complaints. Some customers have complained that their suckling pig was burnt, not crispy, or undercooked.
Marvin immediately took to social media to apologize. He even went to personally apologize to some of the disgruntled customers.
“Well, honestly, ‘yun naman ang ginawa ko whenever I encounter problems and challenges. Maraming nalungkot, nagalit. remembers Marvin. “‘Yun nga ang sinasabi ko. Guess I really come from the food industry and that’s what I like. ‘Pag mahal mo ang ginagawa mo, ayaw mong masira. Hindi naman maiiwasan ‘yung pagkakamali ‘di ba What we do after that mistake is what would really matter and what would stick with people.”
He is happy to report that some of these customers have remained his loyal customers.
“Making Magic Together”
The ups and downs of the food industry are nothing new to his new partner, chef Ed Bugia of famed restaurant Pino and Pipino.
Chef Ed knows these challenges all too well as he has seen how difficult the situation has been for the restaurant, food and beverage industry during the pandemic.
“Wala na kasi, I sold my own restaurants during the pandemic. I don’t know if you know about the Pino, Pipino, Burger project. Wala e. Pandemic e. So tara let’s join forces”, chef Ed shared .
Together they created Yummyverse. Marvin is the President and Founder while Chef Ed is the Culinary Director. Marvin’s sister is also one of his partners.
Secret Kitchen, Cochi, and Mr. Vin Munchies are some of the Yummyverse food concepts. They have more to come but these brands are still confidential.
Chef Ed is still part of Mimi&Bros in Taguig, a concept inspired by walk-in bars in Los Angeles, USA. Marvin, meanwhile, is still part of SumoSam and Wolfgang’s Steakhouse.
Chef Ed and Marvin have been friends for a long time as they worked together on GMA-7’s cooking reality show “Kitchen Superstars” in 2011. Marvin was the host while Chef Ed was his consultant.
“We are checking and balancing. Pwede kaming magtanungan. Dati tiwala mo sarili mo lang. At least now we have checks and balances. But this is his show, his brainchild. Most of the concepts that we will create together will be offshoots ng Cochi,” said Chief Ed.
Besides Secret Kitchen, Mr. Vin Munchies will have his separate stand next to one of the cinemas in the Uptown mall. It will offer baked goods, pastries and coffee.
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