IN her roles for television and the movies, multi-awarded actress Cherry Pie Picache almost always portrays a determined woman—such that when you meet her in person, you will understand how she easily pulls off her varied characters with conviction.
The 45-year-old celebrity—whom the public knows to have survived a major tragedy in her life not too long ago—is as determined as determined can be. Proof of this is her six-month-old restaurant venture, Alab, which she tells The Sunday Times Magazine she is committed to see through to six branches in total by the end of 2016.
“My main work is my craft [of acting],” Picache explains, “but unbeknownst to many, I’ve always been a fan of good food, especially Filipino food. And when I went into this partnership for Alab, I made sure that no matter how difficult it is to cope with my schedule, I see to my daily responsibilities here without fail.”
During the interview, Picache had managed a couple of hours of sleep, having rushed taping for the now concluded prime time series On the Wings of Love on ABS-CBN. But, she was at the spacious two-storey Filipino restaurant in Tomas Morato before noon as scheduled, wearing the hat of a businesswoman, which suited her just as well as her celebrity.
“I’m passionate about this place and this whole concept,” she confides. “Alab isn’t your typical Filipino restaurant in the sense that what we have here, although familiarly named are dishes, have been researched thoroughly and can truly claim to be indigenous to communities across different regions across the Philippines.”
Citing the menu’s Adobong Pula, Picache explained that the bright saucy meat dish is how pre-colonized Filipinos cooked the national dish before the Spanish era.
“It was the Spanish who brought soy sauce here, so in the past pula lang talaga ang adobo natin (our adobo has always had a reddish color) with the chicken and pork stewed in vinegar,” she excitedly reveals.
“We also have Penuneng from the Ilocanos, which is actually a kind of blood sausage they make there, as well as Sugpo sa Palapa from the Maranaos, using their traditional spice mix made with sakurab [a kind of shallot from Mindanao], and enriched with crab fat.”
With a full menu for appetizers, main course, and desserts previously developed by celebrity chef Tatung Sarthou who has since gone on to a different venture, Picache says Alab will pursue its established direction of finding more and more authentic Filipino dishes across the country.
“People always think of us a Filipino fusion restaurant but what they realize as they come here is that we are actually authentic in the strictest sense,” she proudly states. “What we really have are recipes handed down from generations in communities–none of the ‘pistaccio kare kare’ type of dishes—and done the way they were originally done.”
She adds, “So besides managing the restaurant, I’ve also committed to going on food trips to hole-in-the-wall places all over the Philippines to discover more of these very interesting beginnings of what we have come to know as Filipino cuisine.”
Moreover, Picache reveals that she is just about to start a culinary course at Moderne Culinaire, which is owned by one of her partners Christine del Castillo, to fully immerse herself in the food business.
“I’ve always loved to cooked,” says the actress who admits she was named after the sweet dessert when it was the mode to give children unique names in the 1970s. “But I’ve always just gone by taste instead of following recipes, which others say is actually better. But then again, like I said, I’m really serious about going into the food business and I’m determined to learn everything there is to learn about it.”
With determination fuelled by passion, it is truly fitting to find Cherry Pie Picache in a venture called Alab.