Huang-Teves: The epicurious mama


TO ACHIEVE world-class expertise in any field, Malcolm Gladwell, author of the book “Outliers”, says the 10,000-hour rule holds the key. It is basically practicing a specific task that can be accomplished with 20 hours of work a week for 10 years.

Mompreneur Alexes “Leck” Flores Cruz enjoyed an early introduction to the culinary world when she began baking and selling goodies at age 8.

“My parents are both good cooks. When I was young, I was pretty amazed on how they could practically create dishes from scratch and feed a number of people during fiestas, family celebrations or office affairs. I also have an aunt who cooks very well and she taught me some of her recipes. It made me love cooking more,” Leck, an MBA degree holder, fondly recalled.

Leck’s dad was likewise an ardent workaholic and perennially business oriented. He relentlessly sold cakes, siopao, chorizo, and many more which inspired Leck to pursue her first catering business at age 19.

Seasoned home cook

“I never had any formal culinary course. However, my countless years of experience in home cooking and checking recipes has helped me create my own dishes. Thankfully, I am also a quick study. When I travel, I watch and learn fast. In addition, I am blessed with a mother-in-law who lets me buy all the ingredients I need so I can freely experiment in the kitchen. I just love cooking for the family during Sundays and special occasions,” revealed Leck who is happily married to businessman Allan Cruz.

Her first foray into the restaurant business was Epicurious Gastropub, the first ever gastropub in the city. Shortly after, Leck and her family opened another restaurant, BBQ Nation, located in several malls.

Something different yet familiar

“We came up with the name BBQ Nation because we wanted to create or duplicate diverse flavors of barbeque. “BBQ” stands for “Blackened, Basted and Skewered”, which creates various flavors for barbeque. We added “Nation” because we wanted to introduce distinct tastes from the other countries I’ve traveled to plus combine and tweak them to suit the Filipino palate,” explained Leck who also teaches part-time at the Ateneo de Davao University.

“I guess I just wanted people to try something different and yet familiar. I wanted BBQ Nation to remind people of their home, their Filipino culture, and being a Mindanaowan. Our dishes are from different parts of the Philippines so when visitors dine, they can taste a bit of their hometown in ours,” disclosed the mom of two with pride.

Food for thought

Leck’s advice for fellow moms who want to go into the food business is, ironically, “not to take any advice from anyone because every mom’s situation is different from the other”.

“I would say, just listen and check if it would work for you. And, before you become a budding restaurateur, try to ponder on the following: What is my food concept and is there anybody else doing it? What are my own strengths, skills, and time available to manage this? What is unique or special with my offerings? How do I make this food business successful? Can I sustain this?” pointed out Leck who likewise runs ACrew, a consultancy service that is dedicated to help homegrown brands with their marketing, branding, HR, and franchising.

“Being a Mom has helped me create the right balance to everything and taught me to value my workmanship more. Putting up a restaurant is like having a baby. You go through all the birth pains, growing-up headaches, and yet when you see them grow, it is the best feeling in the world!” the young restaurateur gratefully expressed.

Certainly, Leck’s 10,000 hours in the kitchen have deliciously paid off!

Sincerest thanks to Leck Cruz for the photos.

E-mail the author at mom.about.town.dvo@gmail.com. To view more photos, please visit http://momabouttowndavao.blogspot.com/.


SunStar website welcomes friendly debate, but comments posted on this site do not necessarily reflect the views of the SunStar management and its affiliates. SunStar reserves the right to delete, reproduce or modify comments posted here without notice. Posts that are inappropriate will automatically be deleted.

Forum rules:

Do not use obscenity. Some words have been banned. Stick to the topic. Do not veer away from the discussion. Be coherent. Do not shout or use CAPITAL LETTERS!