These Siblings Turned Their Panaderia Business Into A Pastry Shop That Sells A Thousand Ube Cakes
From very humble beginnings of managing a panaderia in wet markets, The Pastry Company boasts a portfolio of high-end desserts. For every dessert we tried, the dessert shop masterfully pushed its slogan of "whipping sugary bliss".
The family who bakes together stays together
It wasn't easy for the siblings Carolyn and Raymond Lee. Before it became the pastry shop it is now, the Lee family's main business was a bakery manufacturing business for 39 years. It mainly supplied local bread for wet markets and stalls around Metro Manila. The business began as a humble sari-sari store selling bread in Bluementritt, San Juan. When the family's landlord's panederia shut down, it was offered to the Lee family who took the opportunity.
In the beginning, their dad would ride a bicycle with a sidecar to deliver bread around Agora market. The response was so favorable that soon enough their business grew to a bigger space in Cubao. A couple of years after their parents' passing in 2006 and 2008, the Lee siblings took up the mantle.
Starting in 2012 though, the panaderia business started looking a little grim, and in 2017, they had to close their main business down. The Lee siblings were not ready to give up their parents' legacy without a fight, but pivoting the business into its present trajectory came with some resistance.
From the palengke to cafes and hotels
Carolyn was a Creative Director for a decade in the advertising and publishing industry, Raymond on the other hand had no interest in baking at all with a graduate degree in industrial design. Both their line of work was worlds apart from anything that involved baking.
Eventually, Carolyn rediscovered her passion for baking. Meanwhile, Raymond, after his parents passed away, felt responsible to continue their legacy, and thus "had to learn the ins and out of the business, particularly the production line". As it turns out, Raymond was talented in bread-making. Now, he follows food obsessions that lead him to develop his own recipes, such as his version of the best Strawberry Shortcake (P1,800 for 9 inches)
The siblings haven't opened a business yet at this point, but when their friends started to get married left and right, and their friends were looking for desserts for events, they initially declined offers. It was a friend's desperation for a last-minute raunchy fondant cake for her bachelorette party that got them to finally try it out and finally step out from their comfort zones.
What once was their struggle eventually became beneficial in starting The Pastry Company. Raymond's industrial design knowledge of clay modeling and Carolyn's strong multimedia arts background surprisingly came in handy when they gave it a try. Their success brought in orders for French Macarons and Caviar Pies.
The opportunity became an alternative stream of revenue. They started selling online and primarily sold to cafes and restaurants. Their side hustle that started in 2019 became their main source of income, which they pushed to become their primary brand. Today, The Pastry Company services "50 restaurants, cafes & hotels and have gotten into online retail with a loyal following." On average, they sell at least a thousand of their popular Classic Ube Cake.
Surviving the pandemic and planning for a sweeter future
When the pandemic happened, the Lee siblings were already well-equipped to handle major pivots. Surprisingly, The Pastry Company grew its retail brand during the difficulty of the pandemic, making up for the inevitable losses from the lockdown-affected businesses they supplied their wholesale goods.
Today, their continuous growth inspires them to keep going through many hurdles, willingly jumping through hoops, continuously pivoting, and looking for new avenues of growth to carry on their parents' legacy. Thanks to their efforts, their parents' favorite cakes live on, enjoyed not just by their family, but also by the rest of us lucky folks.
The company of pastries of The Pastry Company
The Pastry Company is known for exquisite desserts and it shows in every dessert that passes through their shop to your plate. Their velveteen creams are always whipped extremely airy, light, and fluffy, whether it's the ultra-light cream making their Ube Cake (P1,100 for 9 inches) jiggle, or the generous whipped cream garnish and delicate calamansi filling of their Calamansi Pie (P900 for 10 inches). Each delight was crafted to a surgical precision that though all their desserts stand tall, textures crumble, dissolve, and melt on the tongue so readily, a feat only possible through extremely exact cooking times where cakes are not a second overcooked, and creams are whipped near-weightless, right before the point they break.
Most of The Pastry Company's desserts are sold as big cakes, but dessert aficionados may satisfy their curiosity to try a bulk of their menu with their Cake Sampler for P1,200. This includes a generous slice each of Classic Ube Cake, New York Cheesecake, Calamansi Pie, Walnut Carrot Cake, Dark Chocolate Ganache Cake, and Sans Rival.
While there's no denying the contrasting underratedness and popularity of the Ube Cake and our personal (dare we say, ultimate) favorite Calamansi Pie, there are two other desserts that also impressed us: the Sans Rival (P1,200 for 8 inches) and the Walnut Carrot Cake (P1,200). The carrot cake in particular had light cream cheese, sweet carrots, crushed pineapples, and crunchy walnuts swept up in every cinnamon-scented, flavorful bite.
The Pastry Company's Cake Sampler is only available during weekends, for a limited supply. You may want to order in advance via GrabFood or by reaching out directly through their Facebook or Instagram pages.
The Pastry Company, the child of the Lee family's 39-year-old business, is still evolving. The past few years have been their attempt to master the classics. We tasted and saw the fruit of those efforts in every dessert we sampled: cakes and creams all fluffed to delicate perfection, expertly achieved no doubt by extremely careful study of every step in their cakes' creation. You can find out for yourself just how well-rounded Pastry Company's treats are from each of their desserts.
We can't wait! We are keeping tabs because this is just the beginning of Pastry Company's mouth-watering, honey-sweet journey.
If you're excited to try their delectable cakes, you'll be just as hyped up to know their expansion plan for their commissary and product lines, plus their goal to have a shop you can physically visit soon.
Thinking about what to cook next? Join our Facebook group, Yummy Pinoy Cooking Club, to get more recipe ideas, share your own dishes, and find out what the rest of the community are making and eating!
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