Featured Homebaker of the Week: Isi Kesner

we have this feature homebaker of the week. and our president, has been wanting to feature me, but i didn't want to, because i haven't baked for a very long time. anyways, finally, i decided to give in and she featured me at the start of the year, 2009. good way to start the year.

here is the link of my feature, to know more about me

Name: Isi Laureano Kesner

Home Bakeshop/Home-based Shop: Seven Spice Shop

Status: Hitched!

Profession: Mother, Seven Spice Shop owner

Location: QC

Baking Level: gusto kong maging ka-level si Nick Malgieri (i want to be on nick malgieri's level)

Years of baking: not counting!

How did you go into baking?

My family and relatives (father's side) have been in the baking business for so many years. My lolo used to have a panaderia (not yet been born during this time). There used to be four or five bakeshops that were put up by the family. we still have two existing bakeshops, one here in Malabon (owned by an aunt) and one in California (owned by my lolo's sister).

Every time we have a family gathering, they always held it at the bakeshop in Malabon. So we kids always get to hang out inside the bakery and do whatever we want, like watch their workers decorate cakes, make icings (while we dip our fingers and taste all the icings), get decorated cookies, or sugar flowers and then me and my cousins will get all sugar high and hyper.

And that every time there is a birthday in the family, my aunt will give us free birthday cakes and free desserts that come along with it.

We grew up eating all the produce in that bakeshop.

So I guess I got into baking because of my lolo and because of being brought up in a family who loves to cook and bake.

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Nanay(grandma), my son, Tatay(grandpa) (2008)

What was your first baking experience and how did it go?

Natuto akong magbake nung maliit pa ako (I learned how to bake when i was around grade 2) nung mga panahon na malakas pa lolo ko at memorize pa niya mga panadero skills niya( when my lolo was still strong and got the skills). Unang batter ko, pancake batter (my first batter was pancake batter, considered baking?) Tinuro ng lolo ko kung paano gumawa ng pancake ng hindi gumagamit ng pancake mix.(my lolo taught me how to make my first ever pancake batter from scratch)

Then my real first experience was making blueberry muffins. It went ok naman. then choco chip cookies, that were too thin and chewy and gooey.

One time my lolo missed his panadero skills, he taught me how to bake pandesal. That didn't went well for the first try, ang tigas sobra nung pandesal. We used to have this little convection oven. That's where we bake.

Your site's name is so wonderful to say, "Seven Spice Shop". Lots of alliteration. Lots of 'S'es. How did you come up with this name?

It is named after my son. My son's name is Anselmo Seven. Before he was born, I actually already came up with Seven Spice, just thinking that I want a business name that is easy to remember, just like my name. Then when I went to register, kailangan may shop daw sa end ng name. hence, Seven Spice Shop, at sobrang simple lang pagkagawa ng logo ko. (when i went to register my shop, i have to put shop at the end of the name, and my logo is super simple, i need to pimp it up soon)

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You also used to carry in your site the phrase "Evil and Demented Little Cooker Girl." How did you arrive at this adjective? Is it self-descriptive?!

I used to have livejournal. That was my first ever blog. I started that when my cousin invited me and showed me how to do a blog. That was way back in high school. I wasn't thinking that time, maybe because I was so fond of dark things and dark, evil, vampire, fantasy books to add it all up, so I ended up putting a title to my blog as evil and demented little girl. I ended that blog when I was studying in ISCAHM. Somebody broke into my blog, so I had to delete it. and after 3 years of not blogging, I started a new one in blogger, http://littlecookergirl.blogspot.com, ayun, since certified cook na ako, evil and demented little cooker girl. Cooker because one of my chef's kid told me he wants to be a cooker when he grows up. well I want to be a cooker too! hehe J

Let's talk more about you. I know you are a chef and yet you don't claim to be one. What made you decide to be a chef and what did you learn from ISCAHM?

I don't claim to be one, because nowadays being a chef is so overrated. I love the profession, I have the passion for it, but I am not like the other people just 'cause it’s so "in", just 'cause you studied in a prestigious school or know so much about culinary concepts and techniques, or just 'cause you got a chef's uniform and hat, doesn't mean you are one. I think you can call yourself a chef, based on the experience you got. Being a chef is like being a doctor, you have to learn and learn for so many years and cook so many dishes and maybe cook around the world.

After graduating from a Bachelor's degree in Business Administration in 2003, I worked in a call center for a year. Then I went to the US, and my aunts and relatives over there really had the time to tour me in different foodie grounds. We did so many foodie trips and wine tastings, I even went to have a tour at CIA in their campus in California. I knew about FCI too in New York, I guess it was a calling for me to go, I was considering to go to FCI, but it's too expensive. When I came back here, that was 2004, a friend of mine finished a short course from ISCAHM, and she told me that they are offering a one year course in culinary or pastry. So I went to their campus, and enrolled immediately. knowing I would be a first batch and my chef instructors are Europeans, I was confident that I will get a good experience. And I did.

What I learned from ISCAHM is to know every product knowledge and know cooking methods and techniques and to use our creativity. It's culinary arts, and I think to be a culinary artist, you need to be creative all the way.

I graduated with 2nd honors and I was best in practical during our final exams.

I took up the pastry short course in 2007.

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With my head chefs (graduation day 2005)

You hail from a family of cooks and bakers. Does this intimidate you or does it make you strive more to create a niche for yourself?

Not really. I think everybody has their own style and differences and I think I can strive to be better in the kitchen. I really aspire to be a pastry chef someday.

Just what is Seven Spice Shop? It sells a lot of varied things from cupcake towers, cupcake toppers, SEKEM teas (yum!) and yes, spices, to services like food styling... What do you envision it to be?

When I was studying at ISCAHM, I knew the herbs and spices that my aunt gives me from Egypt had potential. Some of the herbs and spices I sell are not readily available here and due to the culinary world booming here in our country, I kind of abused it. hehe :)

Also being pregnant and being married unexpectedly, I had to find something to earn a little. The different nuts added in to my product list. Then the cake stands, the Sekem teas have been added along the way. I guess every product I have in my shop has potential.

Since I will be moving in a permanent space soon, I will be going back to baking and share more what I can do in the kitchen.

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My herb and spice set card

Speaking of food styling... You are apprentice to Ricky Ladia, the great food photographer. How did you become a food stylist? When did you take fancy in photography in general or in food photography in particular?

I have been taking photos when I was a kid. My dad had it as a hobby. We love taking pictures. I always take photos of everything. I remember when I went to US for the first time with my dad, we had a box full of films to be developed.

I started taking food photography and got into it when I was studying in ISCAHM. We were encouraged to take photos and some of our chefs gave us tips on how to style our dishes. When I started joining in photography forums, I became known of my food photos. And Master Ricky somewhat believe in my skills. And so he built me up and gave me little projects along the way. I learned by reading and researching and just plain looking at very good food photographers’ works over the internet. I wish to get food styling course in FCI. If you want to see more of my works, here is master ricky’s site http://kardo.multiply.com/photos/album/18/Food_Photography_Workshop_2_wave2_

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My foodie set card

You are also a stay-at-home mom to Anselmo. What made you decide to take this very challenging yet fulfilling role in your life?

I wanted to work so badly. but I can't trust anybody but me to take care of my son. So for the past 3 years I have been with him, and at the same time running seven spice shop. And I am happy, tired, worried and just giving him the best everyday life we both could have.

When you are not baking for others, what do you like baking and eating for yourself?

I love to eat. I love Asian dishes. Thai or Vietnamese. I love pizza. I still love making pancakes.

What are the challenges of being a homebaker?

When you don't have enough time because you have other priorities to attend to. another is when you are not complete with the things you need right away. Another is, I may just be doing a couple of baked goods, with the less equipment and materials I have.

I don’t think everybody can do every baked good, I believe we have to specialize into something and give better quality and freshly baked products to the consumers. The most challenging is maybe when nobody orders from you. hehehe J

Despite the fact that you are part of Admin and are one of the first members of FHO, you've refused time and time again my offer to be featured homebaker. Why is this so? And what made you finally agree to being featured? :)

I wasn't ready to answer your questions. I needed to establish myself and my Seven Spice shop. I am not that experienced like everybody else that I look up to in the baking world. I finally agreed kasi nahihiya na ako sa iyo Niks. Hahahaha J I think 2009 will be my year, ika nga ni Beng sa akin.

What are your plans for 2009, both as a person and as a budding entrepreneur?

Despite of all the good and bad things that happened along the way, I know for a fact that I can solve and learn from it the best way I can. as a person, I think I will be able to do more this year. I am in the process of planning my way to build the future of my son and more growth to Seven Spice Shop, share more recipes in my blog and more food photography and hopefully grab a food styling job for a magazine.

Share with us some New Year's Resolutions in the Year of The Ox.

Despite the economic meltdown, I will be brave in bringing in more products to my shop.

Think happy thoughts!

Grab every opportunity, since I have been declining orders related to baked goods.

Baking Tips you can share with fellow FHO members?

It’s cool to be accurate (maraming tamad) as this will avoid mistakes and creation of bad baked goodies. It’s better to waste nothing. use your leftovers and make them into a different dish.

If we are talking about recipes, it doesn’t mean it would work for you because it worked for me. Home bakers have different techniques and own styles and favorite recipes. get reliable sources from the internet or from experts, it will save you money.

Read and research and learn from food blogs.

Always taste what you are cooking or baking before serving.


Tangled Noodle said...

It's so nice to learn more about you and your background! Your photography is wonderful and a great source of inspiration and direction for me. The pancake with the pink swirl on top is making me hungry! 8-)

evil and demented little cooker girl said...

hey you! thanks so much
:)the pink swirlis raspberry butter which i truly love!

buccino said...

homebaker of the year!!

evil and demented little cooker girl said...

bubu naman! of the week lang. ginawa mo namang year. salamat!

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