Instinctively, I’m thinking out of the box, because I’m not a chef by profession,” says Ramon ‘Chito’ Benito, who founded Catherine’s Cakes & Pies in 2012, and has proven that a culinary neophyte can teach himself a recipe good enough to sell.
From a single walnut pie he made for his wife, he now has 12 baked items for delivery to more than 1,000 unique customers all over Metro Manila. He also regularly supplies coffee shops.
Not bad for a civil engineer who used to work in telecoms and karting.
As president of Ready 2 Race Gear Inc., Benito manages an award-winning karting team. When the business started to slow down, he turned to food: “The whole Philippines is your prospective customer: Everybody eats; not everybody karts.”
He likens discovering the optimum racing setup—when you “don’t have a thousand sessions to try it out”—with perfecting a recipe: “You can tweak each ingredient, puwede mong bawasan, o puwede mong dagdagan. I learned to choose which direction to go to lessen the number of combinations to test,” says Benito.
Fully committed, he took a pastry course last year, and yet maintains that his lack of professional culinary training is an asset. “It’s more of a plus than a negative. I’m able to bring my experience from other industries into baking… I don’t have to follow the convention.”
Photo: Heidi Aquende
This article was originally published in the May 2014 issue of Entrepreneur magazine. Subscribe to the print or digital version here.