By Cherry Joy “CJ’ Cael
Products: Sans Rival Cakes, Silvanas, Specialty Donuts (Ube, Macapuno, Mango, Red Velvet, Avocado, Strawberry)
I started to learn how to bake two years ago. I was at that point in my life in which I wanted to develop new skills and cross off my bucket list. I joined a softball league, did some zip lining, learned how to safely handle and shoot firearms, joined mermaid swimming classes, swam oceans with my tail on, I trekked and hiked mountains and volcanoes. I travelled and got exposed to different cultures and cuisine; I met people and went to places that really sparked my soul and I got inspired.
I came back to Canada after my vacation, thinking that I had to get my life straightened out and to finally do what I have been wanting to accomplish my entire life; and this is to study culinary. I did my research and I was so happy to find that George Brown College opened a new program, Honours Bachelors of Commerce in Culinary Management. It is the very first and only 4-year degree Culinary program in Canada. It focuses not only on the culinary aspect but also covers the business side of the industry. It was about time, I applied and got accepted for fall semester, giving me a few months of downtime.
To make the most out of it, I decided to teach myself and learn how to bake. I have always loved to cook savoury food, I grew up being so passionate about food but I did not know how to bake. I started with the basics: brownies, banana bread, pão de queijo, which is a Brazilian cheese bread. Then I just did not stop, every single day, I was learning something new and different and Youtube was a big help: crème brulee, cheesecake, macarons, tiramisu cake. Until one day, someone said “Sans Rival Cake and Silvanas”, and I said, “what now?”. I was so intrigued with the idea of a French-inspired Filipino cake that is mostly served during special occasions, so I studied and I learned how to bake the cake. It is made of layers of cashew meringue wafer and French buttercream, I had tried several recipes before I got to the one recipe that really appealed to me.
I bring my baked goods to parties and gatherings, I post it on social media, and people turn to like it a lot and they have been asking for it. As I can recall it, I was on a vacation in Dubai when I received a follow-up request from my good friend, Daniel, regarding my Sans Rival Cake. He said that it is very rare to find a Sans Rival Cake here in Canada, nonetheless, a great quality cake as such. One of my mentors, Karen, who is also a fellow alumnus from George Harvey Collegiate and George Brown College, taught me how to do the costing. I was fortunate to have friends and family who supported me during my market testing period.
Few months after this, another family friend of mine, Dhea, asked me if I could add variety to my line and start making donuts. We did few batches of product testing until the idea of incorporating Filipino flavours into the donuts came to me and this is how the Ube Macapuno Donuts started. I have not been to the Philippines for 11 years and while I was there, I made sure to taste all the local food and flavours that are being offered. Foods like biko, suman, puto, ube shake and ice cream. I find it very comforting to taste these great snacks again, it brings back childhood memories, it opens feelings of familiarity, it makes me connect to my roots. This is the kind of positive emotions that I want to be able to offer our community through my desserts – a food diaspora, a reminder of home. This kind of nostalgia led me to develop recipes that both encompasses the aspect of modernism and ethnicity, in a pursuit to provide a sense of community.
Last summer, I was in Jasper, Alberta for my culinary externship and I missed making donuts. I had a friend from Edmonton who visited me and she brought me ube or purple yam. I was so happy to be able to make donuts again and incorporate the flavour, share, and introduce ube donuts to my colleagues and friends from the west. Coming back to Toronto right after, having the 2-year experience of being in Chef School, really helped me to further develop my skills in business, as a cook, and as a baker. During these difficult times, this Pandemic has made way for my products to be more embraced by our community during the lockdown. There has been a sudden increase in sales but more importantly, we are able to reach more consumers even outside of our target demographics. As an immigrant, it feels good to be able to share my passion about Filipino Cuisine to other people, not limited to my “kababayans”, but also to our new community in Canada. I have also seen several people who started selling sans rival cakes and silvanas, who surely make the competition more enjoyable and motivating; at the same time, it is fluttering to become an inspiration to other bakers. Looking back, it surely does help me to keep my feet on the ground and to motivate me to continue to strive for greatness even more. I dream that one day, we may all collectively be able to put Filipino Cuisine on the map, no matter where we go.
As of now, Sans Rival Toronto is offering different flavours of Sans Rival Cakes and Silvanas: Classic, Ube, Mango, Strawberry, Pistachio, Chocolate, Cookies and Cream, Red Velvet, and Buko Pandan. For the donuts, from the classic ube macapuno, to mango filled donuts, and assorted chocolate; new flavours are: red velvet donuts, strawberry, avocado filled, candied jackfruit, pineapple jam. We are currently developing recipes for our vegan friends and people who have dietary restrictions such as dairy, gluten, sugar as we continue to adapt to this modernity, innovate, and continue to provide the needs of the consumers. Sans Rival Toronto would not have come this far without the support of everyone, so I would like to say how thankful and appreciative I am for every inquiry, for every order, for the word of mouth, for every occasion with your family and friends that you shared with us – thank you!