MOTHER KNOWS BEST

“China Mommy” and “Wok With Mom”, with a lit­tle help from their chil­dren, are in­tro­duc­ing tra­di­tional Chi­nese Home Cook­ing to the new on­line gen­er­a­tion.

Let’s Eat - - WHAT'S INSIDE - WORDS BY SPANKY HIZON EN­RIQUEZ

Ispoke with Oi, daugh­ter of Mrs. Gemma Lim a.k.a “Wok With Mom”, and with Oliver, son of Mrs. Linda Tan Co alias “China Mommy”, to find out why their moth­ers, who should both be en­joy­ing a com­fort­able re­tire­ment, de­cided to launch new ca­reers as en­trepreneurs spe­cial­iz­ing in clas­sic Chi­nese cui­sine -- and how both ladies are suc­ceed­ing spec­tac­u­larly, thanks to the magic of so­cial me­dia.

Wok With Mom spe­cial­izes in fes­tive Hokkien dishes, those that take great care and a quite a long time to pre­pare, that’s why they’re dif­fi­cult to find even in restau­rants. China Mommy is best known for her mag­nif­i­cent crab specials, and her clas­sic fresh Chi­nese lumpia with all the trim­mings. Both mom­mies use their own recipes, passed on from their own moth­ers and grand­moth­ers be­fore them, and cook in their home kitchens. And yes, both of them de­liver, fast and fresh, so you can just re­lax and en­joy your­self – and their ex­cel­lent food -- the next time you have a party with your loved ones.

spanky: What was your mom like when you were grow­ing up?

oi: She was al­ways into food... the only vice my dad has is eat­ing, so Mom was al­ways in the kitchen cook­ing his re­quests. I re­mem­ber she even con­ducted some cook­ing classes years ago. She al­ways had a keen eye for busi­ness, and at dif­fer­ent times, she ran a travel agency, a dress­mak­ing bou­tique, even a “drunken chicken” food de­liv­ery. oliver: My mom was work­ing all the time, but when­ever I’d get sick, she’d find the time to pre­pare lu­gaw and steamed fish for me. She was al­ways busy, but as my sib­lings and I grew up, she started spend­ing more time at home, and she’d cook feasts for us on Sun­days.

spanky: What was your mom’s show­case dish, and what was your fa­vorite dish as a child?

oi: Her spe­cialty was ac­tu­ally a West­ern dish! A Thanks­giv­ing tur­key stuff­ing! Her other best dish was a potato prawn salad, which is now in the “Wok With Mom” menu.

oliver: Mom is best known for her Chi­nese lumpia and misua, the recipe of which she got from our grand­par­ents, but my fa­vorite is a very sim­ple Chi­nese dish - tim nung, or steamed egg with minced meat at the bot­tom. You’re prob­a­bly fa­mil­iar with it as “chawan mushi”.

spanky:When and why did your mom de­cide to turn her pas­sion into a busi­ness?

oi: The dishes my mom cooks are very dif­fi­cult to find, even in restau­rants, and they’re not easy to pre­pare, es­pe­cially the Eight Trea­sure Chicken. So, I knew there could be a mar­ket, es­pe­cially for pro­fes­sion­als with pre­cious lit­tle time to cook. Since my mom al­ready had mas­tered these, we de­cided to of­fer it as an on­line busi­ness, and we started pro­mot­ing Wok With Mom just a few months ago.

oliver: A decade ago, my mom started vol­un­teer­ing as a cook for the Ocean Sky Chan Monastery ev­ery Satur­day. I think that’s what rekin­dled her love for cook­ing. Soon, her friends from the tem­ple would ask her to cook for them, so my mom would “ex­per­i­ment” on new dishes ev­ery week­end. My sib­lings and I posted pic­tures of our lunches, and soon, our friends wanted to be in­vited to our Sun­day meals! It grew from there… even­tu­ally, we thought about hit­ting two birds with one stone, and posted on so­cial me­dia that we were mak­ing mom’s cook­ing avail­able to order to the pub­lic. This forced us to learn her recipes.

spanky: What role do you play in your mom’s new busi­ness ven­ture?

oi: I’m her In­sta­gram and Face­book spe­cial­ist, fi­nance and mar­ket­ing con­sul­tant, and yes, mar­ket­ing in the palengke too… when there are a lot of or­ders! But first and fore­most, I’m her #1 cheer­leader!

oliver: My mom does the R&D and sourc­ing of in­gre­di­ents, and although my sib­lings and I have day jobs, we all help in ac­count­ing, order-tak­ing, HR, and of course, mar­ket­ing via so­cial me­dia.

spanky: So, what’s it been like for your fam­ily since your moms started their sec­ond ca­reers?

oi: We love the feed­back, most of all. Our cus­tomers al­ways re­mark that our food re­minds them of their Amah’s cook­ing, which is just per­fect. They also love it that they don’t have to slave for long hours in the kitchen, and some have ad­mit­ted that they se­cretly trans­fer Wok With Mom’s food into their own serv­ing plat­ters and boast to their in-laws that they did all the cook­ing! My mom is al­ready 80, but like you said, she still looks like she’s only 60. This def­i­nitely keeps her young!

oliver:Per­son­ally, it re­ally makes me happy to see my mom pur­sue her pas­sion for cook­ing and turn­ing China Mommy into a booming busi­ness at 67 years old. We love the fact that our clients al­ways give us feed­back that their mem­o­ries of their grand­par­ents’ cook­ing and fam­ily tra­di­tions are trig­gered by my mom’s food. That’s what makes her hap­pi­est! Hear­ing those com­ments re­ally bright­ens up her days.

spanky: That’s re­ally nice to know, Oliver. And please tell Aunty Linda, that my own mom, a home cook her­self, and a Ca­pam­pan­gan with very high stan­dards, to­tally adores China Mommy’s deca­dent crabs and fresh lumpia. And Oi? I ad­mit that I’ve never tasted an Eight Trea­sure Chicken as op­u­lent as Aunty Gemma’s, so I was an in­stant fan. And lis­ten­ing to no less than Ivan Man Dy, Mr. Bi­nondo Food Tour him­self, rhap­sodize about Wok With Mom? Well that sim­ply re­in­forced what I al­ready knew: good food be­comes truly spe­cial, and ab­so­lutely un­for­get­table, when it’s pre­pared with a mother’s love.

1 Wok With Mom: Mrs. Gemma Lim and her daugh­ter Oi 2 China Mommy: Mrs. Linda Tan Co and her son Oliver 02

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3 Eight Trea­sure Chicken, 4-Hour Braised Pork Knuck­les, and Long Life Cha Misua Noo­dles from Wok With Mom4 Crabs in Curry Sauce. Spe­cial Chi­nese Lumpia, and For­tune Bags from China Mommy5 Wok With Mom’s Eight Trea­sure Chicken6 China Mommy’s Crabs in Curry Sauce 04

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