In this new series, Lifestyle Asia speaks with individuals who dove into the food business during the early days of Enhanced Community Quarantine and how their passions led them to cooking, baking and selling in the middle of a pandemic
As Vice President of One Mega Group and a Creative Director for Mega Magazine, Suki Salvador has always had good taste. When the lockdown was declared, he realized that good bread was going to be hard to find, and that sense of taste therefore extended itself to the actual making of it. “I bought a pack of active dry yeast because I knew that my favorite boulangeries would be closed. I needed to make my own bread,” he says.
Suki is not a first-timer in the baking world, sharing that his childhood in Baguio gave him access to fresh produce, which allowed him to start baking cakes and cookies. “At the age of ten, I could make a basic chocolate cake, and meringues which paired well with strawberries and cream,” he says. As a teenager in Manila, he moved on to cookies and banana cake. In 2019, he challenged himself and took a bread making class at the College of Saint Benilde. “I learned the basics of gluten formation, proofing and shaping. At the end of the 6-hour session, I made French baguette, wheat loaf, ciabatta, focaccia and pan de sal,” he says. Due to his busy schedule, he wasn’t able to make anything, until the lockdown provided him ample opportunity to get his hands kneading again.
The hardest thing was finding local and imported ingredients, because the need to bake was an idea that hit everyone else. “I found a supplier who also started a baking supply business during the quarantine,” he says, “and for two months, I was practicing and testing hydration levels, different flours and flour blends so I only started sampling and selling my breads towards the end of the quarantine.” Logistics stopped being a problem, but packaging. As a highly visual person, Suki found he couldn’t source the materials and colors he wanted.
“I love croissants, pain au chocolat and sour dough because the former is buttery and flaky while sour dough was earthy and nutty,” he says, “I knew these breads were the most difficult to make so during the quarantine, I practiced on easier breads just to get the hang of shaping, proofing and folding.” When he decided he was ready, he focused on croissants and sour dough bread for their scarcity. “Not everyone made them, but so many wanted them,” he mentions.
When Suki put the efforts of his practice on Instagram Stories, friends and colleagues were amazed at his ability to produce pastries. “I was sharing the techniques and knowledge that I learned because I wanted to show that bread making was not easy. At the same time, I wanted to increase respect for bakers and chefs in my own little way,” he says. Everyone watched with bated breath as he increased the level of difficulty in his baking each week. “I would receive messages that they were nervous for the outcome, but felt relief when the pain au chocolat was a success,” he says. He started sharing what he baked to friends and family, and was encouraged to start selling. “I thought about it, but felt discomfort because I’m an amateur baker,” he says.
Suki believes that you can tell what the cook or the chef was feeling when they were making the dish. He mentions trying a lot of creations during quarantine that while delicious, lacked love and soul. “I want my customers to first enjoy the flavor profiles of my bread. I’ve created a menu of classic and premium breads. The classics will use good ingredients, but the premium breads will use ingredients that have unique flavor profiles like the 48-hour Black Sesame Sour Dough, 48-hour Raisin Sour Dough and Almond Croissants. With both classic and premium breads, they will experience love and soul because I’ve put generous amounts of both in everything I bake,” he says.
Now that restrictions are loosening up, Suki is determined to continue making bread, sourdough and croissants for his friends and loved ones. “For now, I want to remain a low-key boulangerie that focuses on artisan and laminated breads. There will be no sponsored ads or seeded products,” he says, “I want to be a “secret supplier” similar to the cakes and desserts you gift your friends and loved ones, but remove the label when you deliver the box because you want it to remain a secret only you know.” When normal life has resumed and we start holding dinner parties, watch out for his creations as a fixture on the table. “I do know that I want my breads to be found on the dining table for breakfast, lunch, dinner and on wine nights because not only do my breads taste good, they are pretty, too.”
For orders, please contact @sukisalvador on Instagram