Amid the lockdown, quarantine, travel restrictions, and business closures, a star has risen to save the day: the home cook.
Often someone’s aunt, mother, grandma, sister, brother, uncle, or son, the home cook is the one known among family and friends for one or more dishes prepared in a distinct way. The lockdown has spread their reputation through social media, and delivery apps have made it possible for their dishes to be distributed far and wide.
STARS IN THE KITCHEN
But the home cook could also be a superstar in another field, like award-winning actress Lotlot de Leon, daughter of film icons Nora Aunor and Christopher de Leon.
Netizens are thrilled to dine on Lotlot’s specialties, most popular of which is the pork dish bopis. Adding excitement to the experience is receiving replies from Lotlot’s equally talented daughter Janine Gutierrez, who helps her mom monitor social media requests.
“Finally, natapos din ang halos buong araw na pagluluto. Hindi talaga biro ang magluto ng bopis. Kailangan pakuluan ng matagal, palamigin bago hiwain. Pati lahat ng sangkap isa-isang ihahanda. Pero happy ako kasi kahit mahirap gawin, napapa-smile ko naman mga regular na umo-order sa akin sa sarap nito (Finally, a day of cooking is over. Cooking bopis is really not an easy thing to do. You need to boil it for hours, then let it cool. And all the ingredients must be prepared one by one. But I am happy because, even if it is hard to do, it makes my regular customers smile because it is delicious),” Lotlot says. “Anak, Janine, salamat sa help sa pagkuha ng orders. I love you! (To my daughter, Janine, thank you for helping me take the orders. I love you!)”
Selling cooked food online is not easy for those who are not famous and do not have a wide circle of friends with disposable funds for takeout.
A typical example is Rodelia Ramada Alatcha, a 35-year-old single mother of three who works in our building as part-time housekeeper and elevator operator. Years of experience with foreign bosses have made her an excellent all-around cook. The lockdown inspired her to offer her skills online, but she has few takers, except for a few butter cakes.
“It is difficult for a nobody like me to break into the market,” Rodelia says. “Right now, my only customers are my neighbors and close friends.”
I advised her to talk to famous tenants of our building, who know her well and would be willing to post pictures and comments about her products.
BUSINESS BETWEEN FRIENDS
We all have friends whose specialty dishes are the highlight of every potluck party, and we often wish those were available for sale. Asking our friends to cook it for us is awkward and embarrassing, for we know that our friend would oblige but refuse to be paid.
The current trend of home cooking and selling it online solves the problem for everyone. Today, it is a common practice to ask friends to cook for friends, send the food over via delivery service, and get paid through bank transfer or Paypal.
HOME COOK ECONOMICS
The popularity of home cooks is primarily due to practical reasons. The food is often comforting and familiar, and the prices are just a little above what it would cost to cook it yourself at home.
It is definitely much cheaper to order from a home cook than from a restaurant. The home cook does not pay rent, spend on advertising, have service charges, buy expensive equipment, hire plenty of helpers, or add the cost of bank loans and taxes. The home cook is content with a few pesos profit on top of raw materials and fuel costs.