Now, more than ever, we need comfort. A look at my Twitter feed shows me a plethora of distressing tidbits going on around the world: botched vaccine rollouts (happening here and elsewhere), hate crimes towards Asians in the United States, my football team forgetting how to play football, and just yesterday, finding out that Chanyeol from EXO was going to enlist in the Korean army, months earlier than expected.
It’s been rough. In times like this, I either take to my bed (much easier nowadays) and ponder the futility of life. Or I gouge myself on comfort food. After a simultaneous order of Sushi Nori and Din Tai Fung (I was feeling THINGS), and dealing with the subsequent 2:00 AM heartburn, I realized I should’ve just ordered a platter of food from Delicachino.
An online, Instagram-based food business, Chino Hernandez’s Delicachino has been around since 2019. Due to their digital presence, the other worries that worried business owners in early 2020 were thankfully abated. The young cook says what they didn’t anticipate was the Manila lockdown and the ensuing difficulty in the production of the brand’s frozen-food line. Trusted vendors of their premium ingredients began closing doors, and it became difficult to access their commissary (located just outside the Metro). Hernandez decided to table operations on the frozen-food line, continuing to focus on the home-cooked meals they made their bread and butter on Filipino Filipino-Spanish favorites like Chicken Galantina, Pinoy-style Paella Valenciana, Callos, and Tortang Alimasag.
“It was very challenging at the beginning of the pandemic,” shared Hernandez. “Everything was so uncertain, and in the first few months, everybody was scared of ordering food out. Luckily, our loyal clients came through. By the time May came rolling along, our kitchen was operational and cooking every single day. It was a challenge sourcing ingredients and delivering during the Covid-crisis, but I’m glad we were able to survive. It has made my very young business stronger than ever.”
Nearly a year later, life is slowly getting back to normal. This meant clients started clamoring for the return of Delicachino’s frozen food line. In response, Hernandez and his team listened, because truly, how can you have a Filipino food brand without the ultimate staples of Pinoy cuisine? Comforting breakfast food feels like a warm hug in the morning.
Products on the Delicachino Frozen Food Line come from recipes that were passed down to Hernandez from beloved family members: Lola Celine, Tito Martin, and mother Katrina. He is thrilled to have been entrusted with these recipes, as he feels the need to ensure a new generation of people gets to try them. “I have clients who message me and ask if what we’re making is Mrs. Rondain’s longganisa,” Hernandez says with a laugh. “My Lola was a teacher at the University of the Philippines, so a lot of her old students still remember her and her food. Many of them are very loyal to our frozen food offerings today.” He shares that he wouldn’t be anywhere without his cousin Gabriel Rondain (who knows the recipes inside-out), and his brother Jacko Hernandez, who now handles the business side of the company.
“With the re-launch of our Frozen Food line, I’m hoping that we can reach more people and more stomachs this year,” says Hernandez. “These recipes hold a very special place in my heart because I grew up with them. All Filipino households have their own opinion on how these dishes should taste like, so it makes me very happy when diners choose us. Food is such a personal thing, so to be somebody’s choice is a great compliment. It’s a wonderful thing being in this industry.”
THE DELICAFOOD COMMUNITY
To help support local businesses and to unearth Manila’s best gastronomic finds, Hernandez recently launched The DelicaFood Community, a Facebook group that allows young entrepreneurs to market their businesses and culinary creations. With over 700 members, Hernandez hopes that DelicaFood will be able to help Delicachino, as well as his peers, reach new clientele.
Each Official DelicaFood Vendor was invited into the community, after a taste testing session by current members. To help avoid the congestion that plagues many Facebook marketplace groups, Hernandez decided that there should only be one vendor per specialty food item. In this case, it means only Delicachino will be allowed to sell Filipino-Spanish cuisine, D’Bone will be the only steak supplier, Monmonmon will be the only store to vend Burnt Basque Cheesecake, and so forth.
“So far, the reception of the DelicaFood community has been great,” Chino shares. “When we launched last week, we were able to get 500 members in just a few hours, which is a feat considering that none of us are influencers. It’s been so wonderful working together with other young entrepreneurs. We all now cross-promote each other in our social media accounts. You can feel the love within the community.”
Official brands that are part of The DelicaFood Community include:
DelicaChino – a brand paying homage to the Filipino family meal
Casarola – homemade chips and dips
D’Bone – steak and meat supplier
Dr. Bread & Dr. Wine – popular Poblacion restaurants
The Fat Cat – confections and other homemade dishes
The Golden Dough – delicious artisan cookies
The Hearty Palate – salads, dressings, and sauces
La Platteria – grazing boxes
Luco – sticky toffee pudding
Monmonmon – burnt Basque cheesecake and other baked goods
North Meats South – sausages, bacon, and dim sum
SMEG – kitchen appliances
The Sugar Garden – intricately designed cakes and cupcakes
Tio Joe’s – homemade chili garlic oil
Search The DelicaFood Community and request for group membership.