Erica Paredes – The Makeup Artist Turned Accidental Cook

Thirty-two-year-old Erica Paredes’ foray into cooking was born out of necessity. When she first moved out of her parents’ home, the most she could do in the kitchen was heat canned goods. “My roommate would cook and I would clean. But then she left, and I was faced with two choices: to either eat Spam for the rest of my life or learn how to cook. So I started experimenting. I asked my mom for recipes.” When her family migrated to Sydney, Australia, in January 2006, the task of cooking for the family fell on her shoulders. Surprisingly, she found it to be quite a fun chore. “I was inspired to cook by the products available at the Australian supermarkets. When I’d go to the grocery, I’d see types of meat I’d never seen before.” Before, people would go to Erica to have their faces made up. Now, they troop to her place to devour sweets like PB&J and Oreo cupcakes. It is quite a departure from her former career as a makeup artist and beauty editor.

Description: Erica Paredes

Erica Paredes

 “I’ve always liked makeup,” Erica confesses. “My mom gave me my first makeup kit at 12 and I always played with it.” In 2005, she flew to London to attend classes in a makeup school. Upon her return, she worked as beauty editor for a lifestyle magazine. While working on beauty stories, she stumbled upon a new beat. “The team when I realized that I loved food writing.” Soon after, she started her own blog and penned food and travel articles for the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

Description: Oreo cupcakes

Oreo cupcakes

Erica has also gone on to set up two home-based food businesses – both of which were started without forethought. She started making chocolate-covered bacon for personal consumption, but the product quickly found a market when blogger Anton Diaz got a taste of it and promptly wrote about it on his blog, Our Awesome Planet. Het other product came to her in a dream: “I dreamt that I was in New York with my best friends. We went to this place called Birthday Café where we could have any food we wanted. There was a cupcake there called the Barnaby – a triple dark chocolate cupcake stuffed with peanut butter, jelly, and marshmallows. I woke up and felt that I just needed to make it. So I did and it turned out to be my bestseller.”

Her latest venture is an online cooking show, Gourmet Kitschen, launched in March. “I didn’t want it to be typical. I want people who are trying to cook on their own to be able to relate to it.” Also in the works are pop-up dinners and homemade dishes, which her neighbors can avail of. “Not everyone likes to eat. Seeing people take a bite of what I’ve made, knowing that they’re really enjoying it, makes me feel like I’m doing something right in the world.”

Keep tabs on what Erica Paredes is eating and cooking at gourmetkitschen.blogspot.com, facebook.com/GourmetKitschen, and Gourmet Kitschen TV on Youtube. For food orders, call 0917-3059091.

Food presentation

Erica Paredes shares advice on all things food-related – writing about it, baking it, and hosting a TV show about it!

·         Write fairly

“In food writing, be honest and fair. Don’t give sparkling reviews just because they sent you free samples. Highlight the positive but also mention what can be improved.”

·         Check for quality

“When putting up a food business, make sure your product is consistent. You don’t want customers complaining that it was better the last time. Also, hire help – you’ll need it!”

·         Open up to the audience

“In hosting, lest your personality shine through. Don’t be afraid to be yourself. The audience appreciates it when you show them who you are, instead of just playing a part.”

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