Tuesday, December 16, 2008


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Monday, December 15, 2008

A Fistful of Salt

Having been accustomed to the stiff competition among lechon businesses in Metro Cebu, I was trained to always be on my toes for whatever new developments my competitors are concocting. Though most of them are my friends, when it comes to business we have this healthy competition where we try to outdo one another--from ingredients, presentation, and down to customer service. Our business did have a good chunk of the market: locals, from neighboring provinces, from Metro Manila and even abroad.

But now that I am here in Metro Manila, the business climate is different from what I have been used to; here, it's about the authenticity of our recipe on top of penetrating the market.

Being a newbie in the metro gave me a new challenge to prove to our clients that we are a legitimate company and that we are indeed Cebuanos offering real Cebu lechon. Some clients would even ask us to speak in vernacular just to prove our claim. We do take that in stride though since we know that a new player in the market has to work double hard to make his company reliable and credible to the public.

Presently, we have a tie-up with one La Loma lechon house to grill our lechon for a fee. That lechon house is one of the top 5 biggest lechon companies in the area. They have a big and clean slaughter house which gets a regular visit from the Department of Health, since each meat is duly inspected for the protection of the consumers.

For each order, we at Manong's Lechon Cebu would meticulously go to Divisoria daily (without fail) around 8PM to catch the first arrival of ingredients from several sources coming from different provinces.

We then prepare the bought ingredients and make sure that correct proportions are made since a slight deviation would greatly affect the taste of a Cebu lechon. We then pack the prepared ingredients in color coded containers depending on the size of the order. Each order would take us an average of 40 mins to prepare the ingredients alone since we make sure that all ingredients are properly washed and are free from any unwanted elements.

In contrast, for companies selling regular lechon such as those in La Loma, they need not go through all the trouble that we have to go through. Their recipes are just simple and basic; just with some seasonings that even the butchers and helpers know about.

Many lechon houses would claim that their ingredients are well thought of. But I always question this since their ingredients are composed only of salt, MSG and bits and pieces of pepper corn and garlic. But I have to admit though that this is slightly better than some companies who just use nothing but plain salt to jazz up their lechon. Now I know why most lechon in Metro Manila needs sauce. This is to compensate for the lack of taste of an almost "unflavored" regular lechon.

There was one time when I saw one of the butchers there grab just a fistful of salt and rubbed it on the pig's belly and did nothing else to flavor it. This was clearly a surprise since for the same size of the pig he was working on, I would have used more than just a fistful of salt in accordance to our recipe.

I then figured out that these lechon companies can make or maybe even pay people to do Cebu lechon, but they opt not to since they are already selling a lot. It amazes me that despite the current economic situation of our country, top lechon players in La Loma could still command a sale of 50 pcs of lechon on regular days and a whooping 400-1000 pcs a day during the holiday season. And if they will do Cebu lechon just like ours, they wont have the time to deal with all the intricacies involved.

A friend of mine challenged me that if my company becomes big, I might forget doing Cebu lechon and opt for the kind of ingredients which most people from La Loma are doing. I made a promise to myself though that no matter what happens, quality will never be overlooked. Quality will take me places and put me to greatness, and it's just fair that I should maintain it.

Sometimes, a fistful isn't worth your salt.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Eat Lechon Like a Gourmet

Next time you have a party, don't dig in to that lechon meat just yet. Involve all your senses and follow the following steps in order to maximize your enjoyment of that oh so delicious Filipino party staple.

First, take time to enjoy looking at that glorious shiny red-brown skin of a properly roasted lechon, then tap the skin to check the crispy portions. Eat the skin first, this will give you a preview of the gastronomic delight that is to come.

The best part of the roasted pork to indulge in is the belly part. It has the most ideal proportion of meat and fat, and is the most tender and juicy portion. For an authentic Cebu Lechon, this is also the most flavorful as the spices used in roasting are usually inserted in the belly part.

Aside from being tasty, authentic Cebu Lechon is also a delight for your sense of smell as well. Due to the infusion of spices used in roasting, Cebu Lechon is mouth-wateringly aromatic, so take time to enjoy its smell before finally digging in.

Lechon may be eaten with any sauce you prefer. For Cebu Lechon, it is usually eaten with spiced vinegar and soy sauce. But, it is advisable not to use any sauce since Cebu Lechon is already very tasty and hardly needs any sauce at all.

So, if you want to treat your guests with extra special lechon, make sure you serve them with tasty Cebu Lechon, the star in every special occasion.

The Art of Making Lechon

Food reflects a lot about the culture of certain places. It largely say about its people—their lifestyle, priorities and even their state-of-mind. The Philippines, being a “happy” country and upholds the importance of unity and family, normally celebrate momentous events with food. No celebration is complete without the wide array of food choices for family guests to partake.

From birthday celebrations to weddings and even fiestas, food has been at the forefront of any festivity. And nothing can beat a freshly roasted lechon proudly lying in one’s dinner table; much more if it is a special kind of lechon—Cebu lechon.

Cebu has been known for more than a couple of things: its rich marine life, friendly people and a progressive economy which other provinces emulate. On top of these, Cebu is also known for its food delicacies like otap, dried mangoes and yes, lechon.

Cebu lechon is a far cry from what we normally see being displayed along La Loma, Metro Manila. Cebuanos use a combination of several spices to come up with a mouth-watering lechon for their patrons. Each Cebuano lechon maker has his own version of what is the standard Cebu lechon but in general, they basically almost taste the same—very tasty.

For comparison, La Loma’s lechon doesn’t have the ingredients which could qualify it as Cebu lechon. If you are keen enough you can just check the belly of their lechon and you’ll discover that the belly is not even stitched. For an authentic Cebu lechon this is not possible since it is essential to stitch the belly so as to prevent the ingredients from spilling over.

La Loma’s lechon, though not all, uses only regular salt and bits and pieces of mixed garlic, pepper and other ingredients. They just abundantly rub it to the carcass’ belly which makes this procedure stitch-free.

However, not all stitched lechon is Cebu lechon. While other claims to be an authentic seller of Cebu lechon, it all boils down to what ingredients are being used.

Metro Manila is populated with these impostors trying to pass their lechon as authentic Cebu lechon just to come up with a sale. Some even charge exorbitant rate at the expense of the poor buyer. However, there are a couple of authentic Cebu lechon companies in the metropolis, although, most of them do not bother to market their product well.

One new player in the market is Manong’s Lechon Cebu. Owned by Roland Panares and Terence Limalima, both Cebuanos, Manong’s Tasty Lechon Cebu has been treating Cebuanos with sumptuous lechon, roasted to perfection using an age-old family recipe with only the finest herbs and spices.

“I was really appalled to know the unstitched lechon belly in Metro Manila”, Panares said. “A good lechon should start from the ingredients and the pig to be used”, he added. Since Manong’s Lechon Cebu has been getting orders all the way from Metro Manila, the group decided to bring the very same product . . . the same flavor and quality . . . of their lechon in Cebu to the Metro. This is to ensure quality.

“Before, if we get orders that are to be eaten by lunchtime in Metro Manila, we are obliged to roast the lechon at dawn even as early as 2 A.M. just to be assured that the order would arrive in Manila by 10 A.M. This would compromise the quality of the skin, due to transit and not to mention the cabin temperature of any given airline. But now that we are here in Manila, we can guarantee freshly grilled lechon anytime”, Panares said.

For this Christmas season, Manong’s Lechon Cebu offers its Gift Certificates in denomination of P6,000 up to P10,000, as a perfect gift for clients and friends.
Manong’s Lechon Cebu can be reached at PLDT Wireless 7032133, email manongslechon@yahoo.com

Christmas GC For You and Your Top Employees

Warmest greetings from Manong’s Lechon Cebu!

As the Christmas season is fast approaching, gift-giving is inevitable. And nothing is more sincere by giving your loved ones a gift that will surely be a delight in anyone’s dinner table—Manong’s Lechon Cebu.

Since 2001, Manong’s Lechon Cebu has been treating Cebuanos with sumptuous lechon, roasted to perfection using an age-old family recipe with only the finest herbs and spices.. Since we get orders all the way from Metro Manila, we decided to bring the very same product . . . the same flavor and quality . . . of our lechon in Cebu to the Metro.

Manong’s Lechon Cebu would like to present to you our Gift Certificates with several denominations to choose from. The said gift certificates may be redeemed starting December this year and expire 1 year from the date of purchase. You may opt for our GC or avail our lechon on a per order basis.

Lechon is also very much appreciated as a corporate gift or as a staple food in any company Christmas party.

Please refer to the attached rate sheet for prices and ordering details. If you have further inquiries, kindly contact the undersigned through tel. no. 703.2133.

Try us and discover why Lechon Cebu is renowned throughout the country.

Thank you and more power!

Roland P. Panares