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How Chef RV Manabat Inspired A Subscriber To Put Up Own Moist Chocolate Cake Business

How Chef RV Manabat Inspired A Subscriber To Put Up Own Moist Chocolate Cake Business
Chef RV Manabat

It has always been a passion of chef Rudolf Vincent “RV” Manabat to whip up sumptuous dishes and mouth-watering sweets. Most of his delectable creations, such as a queso de bola cake and cheesy ensaymada, among others, are for sale in his café located in his hometown of Biñan, Laguna.

But Manabat doesn’t want to use his talent in cooking and baking only for business. It has also become a mission for him to share whatever he knows to those who are afraid to create their own dish or dessert from scratch. Luckily, he is able to do so with the help of social media platforms, Facebook and YouTube.

“I am more of an educator because I always say na maraming chefs na mas magaling sa akin (there are a lot more chefs who are better than me),” the 31-year-old Manabat told The Philippine STAR / OneNews.PH in an interview on Friday, Sept. 3. “And maraming recipes na mas maganda pa kaysa sa recipes na itinuturo ko (There are many recipes that are better than the ones I teach). But I can say that one of my God-given talents is I can explain it, I can deliver it to people na kahit ‘yung mga hindi marunong magluto, magagawa nila (so even those who can’t cook can do it.)

Manabat now has 1,494,552 followers on Facebook and 847,000 subscribers on YouTube.  Many of them have been inspired to get busy in the kitchen to recreate his recipes.

Culinary journey

Growing up, Manabat has always had a love affair with food. It was at age nine when he first explored the kitchen, thanks to his mother.

Manabat said his father was a businessman who was always hosting a lot of people in their house. They received guests from lunch up to dinner so his mother had to cook a variety of dishes – two to three –  plus snacks. “Nasanay kami na ganun, iba ‘yung lunch namin, iba din ‘yung dinner and palagi may niluluto sa kusina (We’re used to having different meals for lunch and dinner, and that there’s always something cooking in the kitchen).

During his high school days, Manabat recalled selling cheesecakes and brownies. To satisfy his curiosity, he would spend summers in Metro Manila taking up cooking classes, including at the Heny Sison Culinary School in Quezon City.

“I always looked up to Heny Sison,” Manabat said of his inspiration, who is one of the Philippines’ most recognized names in the culinary scene. “Nasabi ko rin na (I once said that) one day, I want to be like her. I want to develop recipes na makakatulong (that will help)” people who are starting their own business like him.

Still, when it was time to go college, the chef admitted that he didn’t know what program he would to take up at first.

Dumating din ako sa point na hindi ko din alam kung ano ‘yung gusto kong gawin, but one thing was certain na gusto ko na may kinalaman sa pagkain. Gusto ko magtinda ng pagkain (It also came to a point that I didn’t know what I wanted to do, but one thing was certain: I wanted to do something that was food-related I wanted to sell food),” Manabat said.

From there, Manabat took up Bachelor of Science in International Hospitality Management major in Culinary Arts at the De La Salle University-College of St. Benilde. It was also in college where he realized that he wanted to teach other people to cook.

Nung tumatakbo ‘yung portion na 'yun ng buhay ko, dun lumabas na gusto ko talaga magturo. (When that portion of my life was happening, that’s when I realized that I really wanted to teach).  I wanted to teach people, gusto ko magturo sa college (I wanted to teach in college). I want to put up my own school,” Manabat recounted.

“And then there were suggestions that if you want to teach, you must be ahead of others. You can’t  teach just because you already know how to cook. You need to have a postgraduate degree if you want to be an educator,” he said in a mix of English and Filipino during the interview.

In 2012, he obtained his postgraduate degree in food, wine and cheese studies from Boston University in the United States. And as a matter of “self-fulfillment,” as Manabat described it, he enhanced his love for gastronomy by completing courses from the National Superiore de la Patisserie in France; Institute of Culinary Education in New York City; and the Chocolate Academy, Belgium, among others.

For a time, Manabat had a teaching job at his alma mater starting in 2013. He then decided to convert his mother’s old kitchen to  a makeshift class studio since he wanted to focus on his hometown. This culinary school is now the RV Manabat’s Kitchen, where the chef serves as founder and president.

More than the numbers

Manabat – who started sharing his recipes online in 2019 – said he only took videos of himself cooking “for fun.” The chef admitted that he didn’t even have an idea on how to upload a video on YouTube.

What they did was to shoot and upload videos without editing at first, “that’s why one video would take up to 40 minutes,” Manabat said. “And I only had one person, the one who maintained the kitchen was also the one who shot the videos because we were really scared to let other people in.”

These days, Manabat’s quality of videos have improved, as he now has a team and the right equipment to shoot videos. Unknowingly, his popularity on social media also grew because of his recipes.

Asked about the time he finally had 100,000 subscribers – considered as a milestone for any YouTuber – Manabat said: “It wasn't a big deal for me.”

This was because Manabat was more interested to find out the impact of his videos on his viewers rather than the numbers.

‘Moist chocolate cake’

Indeed, Manabat’s subscribers benefitted from the chef’s online tutorials, such as Fritz Edmund Manlagñit who, thanks to the chef’s moist chocolate cake recipe, was able to start his own online business named “Papa Pli” and construct his own café in Catanduanes.

The 29-year-old Manalagñit studied Tourism and Hotel and Restaurant Management at Far Eastern University (FEU). Like Manabat, Manalagñit’s exposure in the kitchen came early on in his elementary days.

“I started cooking when I was in elementary, I had this simple recipe book about breads, sabi ko madali lang pala mahanap ‘yung mga ingredients (I told myself that the ingredients were easy to find),” he said in an online interview on Thursday, Sept. 2.

At the time, Manlagñit said, his family only had an oven toaster that he could use to work on his recipes. While the finished products  didn’t turn out the way he expected, he said it was still enjoyable and fulfilling since he realized he could cook his own dishes.

Hanggang sa makapag-college na ako mas lumawak pa po ‘yung knowledge ko when it comes to cooking and baking dahil sinasama po ako ng dati kong chef, si Aleli Aseremo my former professor in FEU, sa mga demo cooking niya or kapag may mga big culinary events (When I went to college, my knowledge when it comes to cooking and baking broadened because my former chef and professor in FEU, Aleli Aseremo, would take me to his demo cooking or big culinary events),” he said.

When the pandemic struck, Manlagñit, who also works as an online public access operator in Catanduanes State University Library, decided to finally make his dream of selling baked goods into a reality. He started selling his moist chocolate cake, based on Manabat’s recipe, in July 2020. Aside from the chocolate cake, Papa Pli also offers chocolate cupcakes.

Manlagñit’s business suddenly boomed during the holiday season last year as he offered his Brigadeiro chocolate cake. He proudly shared that during that time, he was able to sell 400 to 500 tubs from Dec. 23 to Dec. 24 of last year, and 200 to 300 tubs from Dec. 31 to Jan. 1.

Manlagñit disclosed that his business is a one-man team. But since his physical store is currently in the works, he plans to hire more people in the future.

Manlagñit plan is to have production and display areas for cakes, with no dine-in services. But he’s also thinking of how he will grow his business, that’s why he will possibly include pasta dishes, coffee beverages, rice meals and others once he is able to put up a dine-in café.

With his business succeeding, Manlagñit has nothing but words of gratitude for Manabat, whom he started following on YouTube when the COVID-19 pandemic struck last year.

“Very thankful po kay Chef RV dahil sobrang generous niya po magbigay ng recipe. Alam ko po marami na siyang natulungan, at marami pa po siyang matutulungan kagaya ko na may simpleng pangarap sa buhay (I am very thankful to Chef RV because he’s very generous in giving his recipes. I know that he has helped a lot, and he can help more people like me who only have a simple dream in life),” he said.

Manabat is also happy and proud of Manlagñit. “I always wish people to succeed. Kasi ako at a young age, feeling ko narating ko na ‘yung gusto kong marating (Because I, at a young age, I feel like I’ve already achieved what I wanted to achieve). I have a sense of contentment.”