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Upfront with Jennie Villanueva on Baking Breads

Here at The Life Trends Online Magazine, One of our goals is to #supportlocal businesses comprises getting to know the people behind them. Since food is one of the niches that we want to highlight, our featured local business for today is one of the best-tasting, homemade bread and pastries located in Malolos City, Bulacan. Today, we have got a chance to sit one-on-one with the pastry chef/lady baker behind Pandera Bakeshop and we have given some questions. Let's all meet Jennie Villanueva.

Restaurant/hotel currently working and what do you do:
➜ I started my own business - Pandera Bakeshop in 2020 during the peak of the pandemic, because we couldn’t find good quality bread, I started baking for my family’s consumption only until eventually I started selling in my neighborhood, then later on supplied bread to small-medium scale coffee shops and restos in Bulacan.

What products do you sell?
➜ I sell artisan bread, mostly Asian bread like Pan de Coco, Pan de Ube, Sausage Rolls, Ham & Cheese Rolls, Meat Floss, Garlic Bread, Cheese Rolls, Cinnamon Rolls, Foccacia Breads, Gourmet Pan De sal, Malunggay Pan De Sal, Ube Cheese Pan De Sal, Banana Bread, Carrot cake, Dream Cake, Burnt Basque Cheese Cake, Sesame Lavosh Crackers, Brazo Cups, Red Velvet Cupcakes, and Money Cakes.

Did you go to culinary school? If so, where?
➜ No, but, I am currently enrolled at WORLD CHEFS Academy.

When did you officially start Pandera Bakeshop?
➜ I was baking and selling my goodies since 2014, but I formally registered my business in 2022.

What Restaurants have you worked at?
➜ Aside from working at Cindy’s Bakery, I have also worked at some casual dining restaurants in the Philippines, like Gangnam Wings; Chicken Up, Da Bang Coffee Shop and Don’t Tell Mama Resto Bar in Singapore.

What was your first job in food?
➜ During my college years I worked part-time at McDonald’s Philippines, I made pancakes, cooked burgers chicken, and spaghetti, deep-fried fries, and hashbrowns, and assembled them accordingly before serving them to customers.

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
➜ Honestly, very far from where I am now. I wanted to be a doctor. Well, I guess, that was what every kid my age at that time wanted to be when they grow up.

What’s your favorite thing about being a chef?
➜ Well, at this point, I couldn’t really say yet that I am a certified chef since I haven’t graduated yet. But we’re getting there. I’d humbly say rather, being a BAKER, my favorite thing is the drive and energy to achieve things in the kitchen. I love making a healthier version of my favorite artisan bread. It’s all about being creative as well, and I am also an artist, so it feels like it’s a never-ending ‘play’ and the kitchen is my playground.

Did you have an “aha” moment when you knew you wanted to be a chef?
➜ Yes. I envisioned myself wearing that complete chef uniform, and joining international competitions, but I thought to myself, nah! Perhaps it would be better if I’d begin by impressing my family first with my baking skills… then my friends next, then the rest of the world.

Best advice you ever got?
➜ Always have passion in what you do, so all your dreams would come true.

What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever eaten?
➜ Definitely, Tamilok! It’s a native delicacy of Palawan island, it’s a live woodworm, and kind of tastes like talaba (oysters), I was clueless about what it was when I first ate it, and now that I know, I don’t think I’d ever eat that again.

What’s your favorite bread ingredient?
➜ I love adding herbs to my bread. They make wonders in both flavor and aroma.

What’s your favorite tool in the kitchen?
➜ My Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer. It makes my life easier.

What’s your favorite thing to do when you’re not baking?
➜ I love to paint.

What would you like to do before you get too old to do it?
➜ I’d love to travel and have a gastronomical tour around the world.

How do you deal with kitchen pressure?
➜ I try to plan out my day carefully, especially when I have bulk orders. Managing your time is very important. If you think you would need some extra help then, asking for the assistance of your on-call bakers prior to that day, is a must. Also, one important key is you don’t run out of ingredients, so doing stock inventory all the time is a must.

Tell us a funny story from your Pandera kitchen.
➜ I accidentally mistook spinach leaves for basil leaves… so I ended up eating a whole batch of Ham and Cheese Rolls.

Who among the famous chef, would you like to meet?
➜ I wanted to meet “Cake Boss’ Buddy Valastro Jr., of Carlo’s Bakeshop in Jersey City but met his older sister Maddalena Castano instead.

Who would you like to bake for?
➜ Well aside from my daughter, I’d love to bake for all my loyal customers and patrons. They inspire me to do so much.

What is the hardest thing for you to learn? Or is there something you just can’t get right?
➜ I have yet to master baking croissants. I’ve done it a couple of times, but for me, it isn’t perfect yet. I also find writing frostings quite challenging; my cursives are not perfect.

What makes you guilty about doing this job?
➜ Not having to spend more time with my baby girl. Sometimes all she wants is to take part in baking so that we can bond together.

What are some things you do for your daughter to make up for the time you are not with her?
➜ I make sure that I have a lot some time to bake with her and teach her some skills, I also tell her that she is the boss of Pandera, and she likes it, she even brags about it to our family members and tells them she is the food taster of Pandera. Also, I usually take her out for a date night, she loves eating and trying different cuisines.

How did becoming a chef/baker change your life direction?
➜ I have become more conscious of food selections, especially what I feed my family. I make sure they are healthy. I try to put much value into any recipe that I make in order to have a healthier lifestyle for the whole family. Ingredients are the key, and we all know these needs to be healthy

What has been the highlight of your baking career so far?
➜ Well, I can say that sharing what I know best when it comes to managing a food business with nutritionists and dieticians, hotel and restaurant management students has been the highlight of my career. I love being able to influence, and I love sharing my skills and knowledge with the younger generations.

What makes Pandera Breads stand out from all the rest?
➜ Well, I can proudly say I don’t use bread improvers or any preservatives when baking my bread so they’re less acidic than most bread that you’ll find commercially available.

What is your goal?
➜ My goal in the next 5 years is to see a couple of stand-alone Pandera Bakeshops, and eventually open them for franchising.

If you want to try Pandera Bakeshop bread and pastries, be sure to follow their official social media pages such as Facebook and Instagram. Jennie is responsive to messages and you can also avail of different bread boxes for you, your friends, and your family. Thank you, Jennie for this interview here at The Life Trends Online Magazine!