MANILA -- Actress Maricar Reyes was thrilled to finally be included in the book “Best Desserts,” which launched its fifth edition at the SMX Convention Center at SM Aura Premier in Taguig City on Monday.
Although Reyes’ famous, wine-infused choco-liquor cake has enjoyed a cult following since 2015, it is only this year that her signature creation made it to the book by Vangie Baga-Reyes from Inquirer Lifestyle.
“We just gave it as a gift to somebody who knew Vangie,” the actress shared. “We were surprised when we got a call that we were included in this event.”
Reyes, who confesses she loves sweets, especially chocolates, started making her chocolate cakes since 2015. Now, she has a team who helps her in baking and delivery. “I want to improve and make it bigger,” she offered. “This is something that I love and something that really makes me happy.”
The actress and wife of crooner Richard Poon was among the first-time exhibitors at the annual launch of the book.
“I think the crowd doubled this year,” author Baga-Reyes proudly beamed. “I heard one guest saying, ‘Parang MRT, ang daming tao!”
Around 80 percent were first-timers like Maricar Reyes who were all excited to let guests sample their products. “Some of them were referred to me by chefs and foodies,” the author said. “Some I discovered from checking out various cafes and restaurants.”
There were bakers who came all the way from the provinces like Zamboanga, Bacolod and Cebu. “They all flew to Manila and almost brought their kitchen with them here,” Reyes noted. “There were others who came from Bataan, Pampanga, Bulacan, Laguna and Tagaytay. I think our ‘Best Desserts’ book launch has become a national event.”
Since “Best Desserts” came out five years ago, coming up with another launch every year proved to be a tough act to follow for Inquirer Lifestyle. Yet, they never disappointed the crowd, who always went home unarguably satisfied.
“Every year, we try to reflect any new thing in the dessert scene,” explained Inquirer Lifestyle editor Thelma Sioson-San Juan. “’Best Desserts’ really signify how creative and enterprising Filipinos are. Once we try to capture such creativity, we won’t run out of new tweaks every year.”
There are challenges, too, every year that Inquirer Lifestyle encountered. “The challenge is how to – would you believe – limit the number of people to those who will buy and read our book and not just freeload and pile up the desserts,” San Juan said.
“It’s really more logical. So this year, we distributed the boxes, unlike last year, when people were bringing in all kinds of containers. But every year, we get more and more people – and more bakers. Nice challenge.”
Baga-Reyes has been doing “Best Desserts” for five years now and the hardest part is always the legwork. “Looking and searching for the best, getting in touch with them for food tasting, judging, scheduling a photo shoot, choosing the best photos for the book.
“Of course, it was not just a one-man team. I have my photographer (Leo Sabangan II), copy editor (Alya Honasan), artist (Riki Velarde), Inquirer book editor Ruel de Vera and Thelma Sioson San-Juan for guidance,” she said.
Around 120 mouth-watering desserts were exclusively featured in the 132-page book. For the launch, booths set up by over 90 bakers, offered samples for everyone.
Another first-time participant was Christian Mark Jacobs, chief executive officer of Naked Patisserie, which has been open since March 2017. A business developer from Florida, Jacobs decided to integrate his occupational business development with his love for food.
“All of the cakes that we create are nature-inspired,” Jacobs said. “All of our pastries and our recipes begin from scratch, with fresh, premium ingredients that’s why we call it naked.
“Our strawberries and cream cake was featured in the book this year, so we decided to come, join and showcase some of our desserts. We have an online store where we sell our desserts.”
Naked Patisserie also does savory, naked spreads for weddings and events. Jacobs, who has been baking and cooking since he was a young child, was born in the US, but has been coming to the Philippines since 2014. Though he has been all around Asia for 11 years, Jacobs decided to be based here only two years ago.
“Best Desserts” also selected the “sweet and sinful” Tres Leches by Boboy Consunji (Fabulous Baker Boboy), who decided to get into baking only two years ago. “I wanted to be useful in the kitchen because my partner was a good cook,” said Consunji, who does marketing with Rockwell Land.
His Tres Leches is a two-layer sponge cake bathed in three kinds of milk and enriched with a thick spread of whipped cream and fresh strawberries.
Consunji also takes pride in his chocolate cloud cake. “It’s dark chocolate flourless, with whatever fruits in season,” Consunji said. “Then I also do chocolate marble cake on a crust of almond flour, Oreo and Graham crackers.”
Chocolate chip walnut of Hundred Gram Cookie owned by Nicole Allison Uy, has been around for nearly a year now. “It took me months to develop one flavor and then it evolved to different flavors,” offered Uy, who took up entrepreneurship in college then went on to take up professional baking in New York seven years ago.
Here are some of the other desserts at last Monday's book launch.
Cream puffs from Carmela's Cakes and Pastries.Shanen Salterio
Oreo Cake from B Hotel Quezon City and Alabang.Shanen Salterio
Mango Cheesecake from Holiday Inn Makati.Shanen Salterio
Dark chocolate flour less cake with fruits in season by Fabulous Baker Boboy.Shanen Salterio
Pralines by Chocol8 chef Tweet Obsequio.Shanen Salterio
Itlog na Maalat Cheesecake from The Greatroom by Chef Felinio Afable at Manila Marriott Hotel.Shanen Salterio
Benguet Coffee Brazo from 5 Kitchen Sheraton Manila.Shanen Salterio
64-Percent Dark Chocolate Tart from Half Saints.Shanen Salterio
Dream Cafe from Romulo Cafe.Shanen Salterio
Pandesal and Leche Flan Pudding from Lazat Fil-Asian Restaurant and Bar.Shanen Salterio
Floral bouquet cake from Goldilocks.Shanen Salterio
Though “Best Desserts” is now on its fifth edition, Baga-Reyes said it has been a “one-of-a-kind book” every time.
“Dessert-makers get the chance to meet fellow bakers, pastry chef and network for future opportunities. Dessert fans also look forward to this event every year,” she said.