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Meet the Literal Taste-Makers Changing the Local Gastronomic Landscape

Preview's Creative 25 honors the two brands who made elevated dining accessible to all.
Meet the Literal Taste-Makers Changing the Local Gastronomic Landscape
IMAGE COURTESY OF HALF SAINTS VIA DANIEL EVANGELISTA, COURTESY OF ANTON MIRANDA VIA BARDO WU
Preview's Creative 25 honors the two brands who made elevated dining accessible to all.

While the food and beverage industry took a hard hit from the effects of the lockdown, the local culinary scene continues to thrive and grow in spite of the challenges faced. Budding home cooks rose to being online entrepreneurs, introducing us to new and exciting trends (sushi bake, anyone?) while generating income for their families. Established businesses, on the other hand, were forced to pivot and strategize given the new normal presented. The result of these shifts is a flourishing gastronomic landscape brought to life by delicious flavors and the colorful cast of characters behind them. 

Not just limited to fine dining, the two brands honored by Preview’s Creative 25 has made it their mission to make sumptuous dining experiences accessible to all Filipinos. It is both a daring and admirable feat that is made possible by their innovation and determination.

Read on to find out how these literal tastemakers elevated everyday eating to new heights.

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Preview Creative 25: Food

Jo Arciaga and Christine Roque, Halfsaints

Preview Creative 25: Half Saints and Anton Miranda
PHOTO BY COURTESY OF HALF SAINTS VIA DANIEL EVANGELISTA

In the business of food, you can’t rely on taste and flavor alone. You also have to have the right mix of people. Be it from the team who’s brainstorming the recipe, the cook staff who churns out the orders, the patrons who root for you, and of course, your mentors and partners. Halfsaints has got this winning recipe up to par. With co-founders Jo Arciaga and Christine Roque at the helm, they infused their personal strengths into building Quezon City’s favorite casual dining restaurant.

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While their professional careers started on a different course with Christine in journalism and Jo in corporate, their love for good eats led them to starting their own restaurant that has creating positive impact for a thrust. After all, what sets Halfsaints apart is that it’s an outlet of their self-expression, with their stories, vision, ambitions, and the community woven in the big picture.

"Don’t be afraid to talk to someone about your dreams. Find a mentor, or a person who would be able to enable you to pursue your goals and turn thoughts into reality."

Preview Creative 25: Half Saints and Anton Miranda
PHOTO BY COURTESY OF HALF SAINTS VIA DANIEL EVANGELISTA
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There’s no denying the past few years have been difficult for creatives. How did your business change during the pandemic and what did you do to stay afloat?

 “We tried everything we could think of to keep our heads above water. All ideas we came up with were tested and executed. We assessed and constantly questioned what worked and what didn’t work. We recorded all our insights every week. Through this, we determined that our clients and our community expected a level of cleverness from us at a time when people could not enjoy the ambiance and the sit-down experience that complements our food. We went back to the drawing board regularly, experimenting with offerings that adapted to the times. This was how our bake studio was born.”

What would you say has been your biggest career achievement so far? What personal career goal do you have for yourself now?

 “The Crema de Fruta is one such culmination of our vision and his/herstories in harmony. A technical cake to make, it takes the skill and patience of six people over three days to create one 8-inch Crema de Fruta. A cake worthy of any celebration, most customers order the cake to make it part of milestones in their lives worth remembering.”

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Christine: “When what I create becomes the highlight of someone's day and makes their day, especially at the time when things are at their lowest. Especially as someone that struggles with being in a dark place, being able to bring light and sharing that light is a great achievement. A simple and honest way to continuously uplift others.

Jo: “I feel most fulfilled when I’ve been able to mentor those who I work with, to mold other creatives, and empower them to be the best they can so that together they can deliver great work.”

What do you have to say to any aspiring creatives who want to get started in the same industry as you?

 Don’t be afraid to talk to someone about your dreams. Find a mentor, or a person who would be able to enable you to pursue your goals and turn thoughts into reality. For some, it may be difficult to collaborate or share ideas with a team but it’s an important skill to have because in this line of work you will need the help. When you find your team, learn how to nourish that relationship and find ways to take care of each other. That’s how you go from surviving to thriving.

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Halfsaints is located at 62 Sgt. Esguerra Avenue, Diliman, Quezon City

For more information, you may visit their official Facebook and Instagram.

Anton Miranda, Old Boy Bakery

Preview Creative 25: Half Saints and Anton Miranda
PHOTO BY COURTESY OF ANTON MIRANDA VIA BARDO WU

Old Boy Bakery took the internet by storm when their chocolate chip cookies developed a cult following. For 18-weeks straight, the sweet treat was sold out without a single peso spent on ads. Organic as the response to the cookie was, a lot of systematic thought was actually poured over the product development. After all, homecook Anton Miranda is not one to leave things half-baked—all the more when it comes to his first love. 

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Growing up, Anton knew early on that food would be a huge part of his life. He veered away from it for a hot minute when he tried his hand in menswear, but eventually, came back to this unyielding passion. Totally enamoured by gastronomy, he understands the value of a really good product and it’s something he wants others to partake in as well. With his relentless pursuit of excellence, his ardour and hardwork wraps each creation with a distinguishable layer of pure delight. There is no doubt that this will propel him and his food ventures to soar even further. 

"Just put out something good. It doesn’t have to be fancy or complicated. It can be as simple as fried chicken. Just make it a really good one, and people will recognize that."

Preview Creative 25: Half Saints and Anton Miranda
PHOTO BY COURTESY OF ANTON MIRANDA VIA BARDO WU
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In your opinion, what makes you standout from the rest of the others out there?

"Really just a good product. A good quality product. One thing that I don’t like is the term, “made with love.” It’s such a term that is tossed around. It’s such a cliché thing, but really what does that mean? For me, made with love means you put in the effort, you put in the time, you put in the dedication to create something is an expression of you and your craft. It’s not something that you just Google off the internet. For me that’s what the concept of “made with love” is. You can even look through our previous posts. Every cookie that we’ve released on Old Boy Bakery has gone through a series of tests talaga. We really don’t stop until we get at least our take on the perfect chocolate cookie or the perfect crinkle etc.

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Also, just a fact: All the products that we release are personal. During the pandemic, ube cheese was such a big thing, and I love ube cheese, nothing against ube cheese. But it’s not something personal for me. I could easily release that ube cheese cookie, but I didn’t  because it felt inauthentic. In Old Boy Bakery, we do things the old-fashioned way. We do it with a quality mind. We do it with authenticity in mind. Just being able to put out a well-made product that feels personal is an expression of making something with love."

What would you say has been your biggest career achievement so far?

"Na-sold out and everything was organic. I’ve been telling myself, ‘Anton, it’s time to invest in ads na kahit magbayad ka lang ng 300 pesos or something.’ Actually, my friends are suggesting that also, and I want to. At the back of my head, I think kaya ko pa without ads. I guess ‘pag dumating na 'yung time na week after week zero sales, sige do’n na ko mag-aads. Right now, we’re not sold out every week, we’re doing good. I think that’s okay.

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Besides that, it’s really just giving people something good. I don’t mean to throw shade at anybody, but during the pandemic when so many people were baking, I felt that it was like a trend in a way. People were just bored and wanted to sell stuff while they’re at home. A lot of these things were half-baked. A lot of these things were done because, wala, uso siya ngayon. A lot of these brands that started in 2020, when things started getting more normal, they disappreared. What does that say? Just for me, as somebody who really puts in the work and the heart, it’s just nice to be able to give them something that is an extension of me, and well, that is good."

What do you have to say to any aspiring creatives who want to get started in the same industry as you?

"Number one, and I’m saying this from experience, you don’t have to be a chef. You can be a stylist; you can be a creative director. In food, there are all these different careers, and if you feel like you’re not a chef or if you feel like this part of you is not for food, don’t give up. Look elsewhere. Stick to your love of food and find a different way to express that. I just happened to make Old Boy Bakery and business as my expression, but as I said earlier, I’m very open to exploring more ways to express this love for food. Number two, just put out something good. It doesn’t have to be fancy or complicated. It can be as simple as fried chicken. Just make it a really good one, and people will recognize that."

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For more information, you may visit their official Facebook and Instagram.

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