22-year-old takes over Port Restaurant-A A +A
Wednesday, October 3, 2012
WHEN Evangeline Hayco asked her father to fund her tuition to study culinary arts in a newly-opened culinary school Manila, she did not let his refusal stop her from getting in. She wrote to the school officials, letting them know of her interest to pursue a career in this field. Thus, she was granted a scholarship.
That kind of determination landed her in world-renowned Swiss school Les Roches, earned for her a degree with honors and a managerial position at a restaurant run by a multi-awarded celebrity chef in Boston, Massachusetts.
Despite that, Evangeline knew she wanted to return to Cebu. She used her training and experience to convince her father Edward to let her run their 13-year-old restaurant, Port Restaurant at the Waterfront Hotel Cebu City.
Appointed as the new chief operations officer of the restaurant, 22-year-old Evangeline is brimming with fresh ideas to turn their restaurant around.
Ports of call
For one, she closed down the restaurant for four days and had the interiors painted white to give it a fresh and modern look. She also has ideas to spice up the menu, introducing “port of call” themes for each month and a beer buffet in time for Oktoberfest for late nighters.
Evangeline said her international experience gives her confidence to make these changes.
She started her career at Enderun College in Manila. When the school obtained a
partnership with Les Roches International School of Hotel Management in Switzerland, she grabbed the chance to pursue her studies abroad graduating with honors in May 2011. But before that, she had to work in Kuala Lumpur as an intern cooking, serving and washing plates. She admitted this depressed her slightly, but she pressed forward.
Two months after graduation, she began working as a manager of Henrietta’s Table, a restaurant at the Charles Hotel under the guidance of chef Peter Davis, who was awarded sustainable chef of the year by the Chefs Collaborative, a network of chefs that fosters a sustainable food system.
“Les Roches prepared me for the international atmosphere at my workplace, and graduating with honors really helped me gain an edge when I applied for the competitive managerial position at Henrietta’s. In particular, my coursework in Hotel Design and my varied experiences at Les Roches enabled me to understand more operational techniques and concepts,” Evangeline said.
She said she worked hard to prove herself, saying she had to earn the respect of older restaurant staff members. This year, she returned home and prepared to take over Port.
Her vision for the restaurant is to give clients a “high-end” feel that is not snobbish. She admitted that turning the once cozy and pricey restaurant into a buffet-style place did not evoke a high-end feel.
She explains that her father decided to go that route because the restaurant was not doing so well. They had to pay for the pricey rental at the hotel. She said her father decided to try out the buffet-style as a last resort. If it still failed to generate an income, he thought of closing it.
Instead, Port welcomed many clients each day, serving as many as 200 people at a time.
Now that she’s back six years later, Evangeline intends to bring back the high-end feel, but not the high-end price. She assured that the buffet prices will remain the same for their lunch, dinner and late night buffets.
She feels lucky that she is able to do something she likes with resources at her disposal, instead of starting from scratch. Aside from the restaurant, Evangeline’s sister provided the chairs and tables, selling these to her at cost.
The final touches for the restaurant’s renovation is ongoing. Aside from the white walls, the restaurant is expected to have a minimalist, all-white theme with blue accents, surrounded by frosted glass with blue lighting.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on October 04, 2012.