The Next Big Food Entrepreneur 2014 Announces Winners


The food business is no easy feat. It takes heart, passion, drive, and yes—great food that’s easy to love. Mercato Centrale in Bonifacio Global City—one of the pioneers in the local night market scene—knows what it takes to be the next big thing. Popularly known as a great launch pad for innovative food concepts, Mercato Centrale is where food lovers go when wanting to discover new, under-the-radar eats.

For new food entreps hungry for exposure and experience, joining Mercato Centrale’s The Next Big Food Entrepreneur competition is a no-brainer. Now on its third successful year, The Next Big Food Entrepreneur continues to give aspiring food businesses a chance to chase after their dreams. With a grand prize of P100,000 and a free six-month stint at Mercato Centrale, it’s no wonder the number of applicants rises each year.

For The Next Big Food Entrepreneur’s 2014 run, 14 contestants battled their way to the semi-final round and four noteworthy food businesses ended the competition on a high note, bagging their own individual prizes. 


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Winning the Best Dessert category was Turonne de Manila Café, whipping up a classic Filipino snack favorite: turon. This isn’t just any old turon though! Turon lover Danz Semilla introduced us to his version of artisanal turon with a twist—it’s still the same caramelized, crisp exterior with warm banana slices inside, but with extra oomph. Semilla’s Bacon-Maple Turon, a sweet-salty combination just makes sense: the Pinoy snack has a maple syrup caramelized exterior topped with buttercream and perfectly crisp bacon bits.


An early favorite in the competition was Filipino fusion concept Bigorots by the first MasterChef Philippines winner JR Royol. Chef JR pays homage to his Benguet roots with his winning dish: Chicken Pinikpikan. He calls it perfectly cooked chicken, and perfectly cooked it certainly is with its melt-in-your-mouth tender meat. Bigorots nabbed the Best in Savory category—undoubtedly well deserved.


Deliciously innovative burger and sandwich concept Hunger Buster brings more to the table than just great eats. The Ateneo de Manila University students behind this budding food business seamlessly integrate social media and marketing, resulting in spectacular sales and exposure. Burger fanatics will love the Dying burger, a juicy beef patty topped with crisp bacon strips and melted cheese. Hunger Buster’s tasty food and aggressive marketing earned them the Best in Marketing award.


The overall favorite, winning the People’s Choice Award and the coveted Next Best Food Entrepreneur award, was Indonesian fusion food concept Bakmi Nyona. Owned by Gershwin Garcia and his Indonesian wife, Lucy, the two enthusiastically introduce Filipinos to authentic Indonesian flavors. Bakmi means “meat noodles” and a major crowd pleaser was the Bakmi Ayam, which is Indonesian noodles with beef, mushrooms, herbs, and spices topped with shrimp dumplings and seriously addicting homemade chili sauce. Indonesian food is a surprisingly rare cuisine in Metro Manila, and Bakmi Ayam is well on its way to introducing Filipinos to the wonderfully tasty world of Indonesian food.


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