Muses of Cookery: Baba Ibazeta-Benedicto
The pastry chef owes it all to her mom, her "greatest supporter."
"My mom, Sylvia Almario Ibazeta, has a special talent for making classic dishes
look fresh and delectable; she has influenced my style as a pastry chef."
—Baba Ibazeta-Benedicto, pastry chef, Classic Confections
Making classic dishes such as roast chicken, grilled prawns, seared tenderloin beef, and "the best meatloaf" are some of Baba Ibazeta-Benedicto’s early childhood memories of her mom, Sylvia Almario Ibazeta, when she and her family lived in the United States. There was no household help then, just her mom learning how to cook from her grandmother who would visit occasionally. She would eventually do all the cooking. Sylvia remembers: "I didn’t know how to cook at first. My mother came to the States to teach me a bit, and I just read and followed the recipes. If you can read, you can cook. Later on, when you get a feel of cooking, you can experiment, you can invent." Such talent would pass on from mother to daughter and would play a significant role later on in Baba’s career, after her studies at the California Culinary Academy and once she returned to Manila to start her own pastry business.
Keeping it classic
"My mom always pays attention to details such as place settings and serving ware, and yet, no dinner or lunch is too formal or stuffy. It's all about comfort food with good company. No dish is ever too intimidating. This is what has influenced my style as a pastry chef. My desserts are classic desserts, familiar desserts, such as banana cream pie, mocha sansrival, chocolate cake, and cheesecake. They are presented in a fresh manner, carefully balanced with the best and freshest ingredients. I also pay close attention to details such as packaging and service."
"My mom has also greatly influenced the way I do business. She has taught me how to work hard and to be fair. She is such a kind, compassionate woman. She is also my greatest supporter. She never fails to praise my work and yet she still keeps me grounded and tells me how to improve."
From the very start
"I started baking when I was about nine years old. My mom would enroll me in cooking or baking classes during summer vacation. When I was starting [my business], she would help me deliver cakes, check up on me in the wee hours of the morning, and take orders for me. I can honestly say that there is no way I'd be where I am today without my mom's support. She is truly someone I admire and look up to and I am blessed to have her in my life."
Click for recipe: Sylvia Almario Ibazeta's Brazo de Mercedes