Aling Amy: a PDI article

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Aling Amy: a PDI article

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COOKING IS IN HER GENES

a copy of an article from the Philippine Daily Inquirer written Friday, March 6, 1998

CATERER Amy Nakpil has been getting raves every day in her 25 years running a restaurant and catering business.  But each praise is still music to her ears and inspires her to continue concocting mouth-watering selections for a steadily growing clientele.

Nakpil, who is fondly called Aling Amy, owns Henry’s Catering, a name that elicits savory memories of her dishes ranging from Filipino dishes, Continental and Italian.  she still wields her Midas touch as she keeps busy in the kitchen with three cooks in her battalion.

Surprisingly, Nakpil, who was formerly a school teacher, ran a dress shop before she ventured into the food business.  She is proud of the ternos and the dresses she made.  But this, she said with some sadness, is now a thing of the past.  “Somehow I have lost confidence in sewing,” she said.

But then, she gained more than she gave up.  She channeled all her energy to the food business where she excelled and has since made a name for herself.

Among her loyal customers are from National Power Corp., Benpres Holdings Corp., PCIBank, Land Bank of the Philippines, Eastern Telecommunications Philippines Inc., and even Malacanang. 

Henry’s Catering is usually full seven days a week and Aling Amy often turns down clients especially during peak season like Christmas and other holidays.

A daughter of a renowned Malabon cook Pedro Aquino, Nakpil started to dip her hands into the restaurant business in 1973.  She invested in Filipina Cuisine which used to handle the canteen at the Quezon City Hall.

In 1977, she decided to go solo and put up Henry’s Restaurant and catering along Shaw Boulevard on a lot now occupied by the Edsa Shangri-La Tower.  The business was named after Aling Amy’s middle-child whom a soothsayer said even before she got married would bring her luck.

Henry currently manages the business.  In 1982, she moved her restaurant to a lot across the boulevard (currently occupied by the Edsa Central) where it stayed until 1987.  When its lease expired, Aling Amy decided to concentrate in catering.  Her specialty was bibingka which customers had to line up for just to have a bite of this native delicacy.  “Parang pelikula ni Nora at Vilma yung bibingka namin noon, pinipilahan talaga ( Our rice cakes was such a hit that people queued like they would in a Nora or Vilma movie)”, she recalled.

She said their place in Filinvest, Quezon City which also serves as headquarters of the catering was a house that bibingka made.

Three years ago, she opened a small eatery along Katipunan Avenue which she named Ken Afford, after her youngest son.

Her reputation as an excellent caterer was spread through word of mouth.  It also helped a lot that her father - the cook of Aurora Quezon, wife of Commonwealth President Manuel L. Quezon already gained quite a following which naturally transferred to Aling Amy.

But she hastened to add that she was a poor substitute to her father.  “Ayaw niya kaming turuan magluto kasi baka alilain lang daw kami ng biyenan ko ( He did not teach us how to cook because he thought we’d just serve our future in laws),” she said.

But Aling Amy, who had no special training in cooking, just developed her skills and taste buds through her father’s cuisine.  On top of her excellent dishes, her quality of service is superb.  

She makes it a point to attend to every big and special functions to oversee things, most of the time even acting as host.

Once, when they catered for an affair in Malacanang when she noticed that one of the desserts, the suman sa lijia was being ignored by guests who were predominantly foreigners.  the suman topped with cocojam sauce was usually a hit among her clients.  Aling Amy decided to stand by the dessert table and asked each guest to try the delicacy.  some of the guests took a piece to humor her but a few minutes later, more and more people were lining up for the suman.

“Its not just the money.  What really gives me satisfaction is when I know that my customers are happy with the food and the service and naturally, they will keep coming back for more,” she said.

True enough, Aling Amy’s loyalists have quadrupled through the years.  she is very proud of a growing client base even if her house has become a stockroom for catering wares.

Every year, she spends more than P200,000 to replace lost or damaged plates and utensils and to buy new ones.  She has served a function which served up to 1,200 guests but she expected more challenges in the coming years. A meticulous worker, Aling Amy said she would continue to give her best in whatever she does. 

“Kahit paghiwa lang ng rekado dapat maganda at maayos dahil kung hindi, ( Even the dicing or mincing of the ingredients has to be done well or else) I would be very disappointed with myself”, she said.


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