Starting a business in the Philippines is already a struggle. Adding a pandemic in the mix will prove to be… más difícil (more difficult). However, that wasn’t the case for the proud parents of Cocinalo.ph — Janine Ramirez and Chef Mikel Martija. They did not see COVID-19 as a threat to their business but rather, an opportunity — an opportunity to let people experience authentic, Spanish ready-to-cook comida (food) in their own homes.
Going out with friends, trying out one-of-a-kind cuisines, and savoring every flavor that hits one’s taste buds — only some of the things that we yearn for ever since the quarantine started. With the pandemic canceling travel trips across the board, Cocinalo.ph rose to deliver food from Spain to homes around Manila — definitely, an adventure worth having.
Authentic Spanish experience with Cocinalo.ph
If you do order from Cocinalo.ph’s menu and receive an uncooked meal… ¡No entrar en pánico (Do not panic)! The Spanish word “cocínalo” literally means to “cook it” — eat it hot and fresh from the pan. It remains one of the reasons why their comida (food) emanates uniqueness and remarkability.
“We thought of how to create the best comida española (Spanish food) for delivery… and Chef Mikel refused to send out cooked food! He insists that the best food is served fresh off the stove or even.”
Chef Mikel was born, raised, and trained in one of the world’s culinary capitals — the city of San Sebastian in Spain. Giving manila a taste of his home remains one of the goals of the brand. Made con mucho cariño (with love), surprise your taste buds with Cocinalo.ph’s best sellers: the savory Belarria Saltsan and the creamy Spanish croquetas.
The Belarria Saltsan — a slow-cooked chorizo and pork oreja stew — is finally available here in Manila. Adding freshly-cooked rice, the mouthwatering meal easily became the best I’ve had, especially after months of remaining cooped up inside my home.
Permeated with thick, smoky, paprika-enriched sauce, and the perfect amount of spice, the pork oreja and chunks of chorizo just melts in my mouth. Sería perfecto con vino (It would be perfect with wine).
The authentic Spanish croquetas — with Chef Mikel using his family’s recipe — definitely deserve the cult-following that it had gained. One bite and you’ll stay hooked with the cream-filled crunchy delicacy. It comes in four flavors: jamón (ham), pollo (chicken), setas (mushroom), and chocolate. ¡Las croquetas son sabrosas y deliciosas (The croquetas are tasty and delicious)!
As a chocolate-addict myself, I was very excited to try out the chocolate-flavored croquetas. Once I did, I found out that it had the perfect balance of sweetness. Rich and dense chocolate exploded in my mouth… and, I mean this in the most literal way possible. Filled to the brim, the croquetas truly burst when I bit into it. The fact that the cacao nibs remained locally-sourced from South Cotabato just makes it even better.
Business as usual amid pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic became the push that both Janine and Chef Mikel were looking for to start the brand. So, adjusting to the new normal became one of the most important things for them to do to keep the business going. Despite the struggles, they continue to operate without a hitch as they work closely with their trusted employees.
“In these times, we learn how important good, talented, dedicated people are to the business. We’re lucky to have found a solid team to keep Cocinalo running smoothly even in these trying times. And now more than ever, we know how important it is to care for our employees as much as we do our buyers.”
Janine and Chef Mikel don’t see COVID-19 as a hindrance to their success. In fact, they thank the pandemic for being a blessing in disguise. They also hope that nothing would stop young entrepreneurs in believing in their products and managing their businesses, no matter how small it may be.
“One big learning for us is that people really appreciate heartfelt quality and service. We do everything con mucho cariño (with much love), from cooking to taking orders and managing deliveries, and we have been blessed with the sweetest, most loyal buyers. We’re constantly reminded that ‘it’s easier said than done.’”
“It can be so clear and simple in your mind but when you set out to execute, there’s always something to fix or change or adjust to. So, we’ve learned to roll with the punches and also appreciate all the entrepreneurs who have built successful businesses! It’s always so much easier to give advice or even criticize than it is to make something happen.”
The Belarria Saltsan is priced at Php 720 for 360grams while Php 1400 for 720grams. The Croquetas, on the other hand, have different pricing: 6pcs Pollo for Php 270, 6pcs Jamon for Php 340, 6pcs Setas for Php 320, and 8pcs Choco for Php 360. Cocinalo.ph accepts orders for Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday deliveries.
¡Comiendo feliz (Happy eating)!
Angela Grace P. Baltan has been writing professionally since 2017. She doesn’t hesitate to be opinionated in analyzing movies and television series. Aside from that, she has an affinity for writing anything under the sun. As a writer, she uses her articles to advocate for feminism, gender equality, the LGBTQIA+ community, and mental health among others.