Healthy gourmet pet treats at Whole Pet Kitchen
JOYFUL HARVEST - Joy Angelica Subido, Joy Angelica Subido Karla Alindahao (The Philippine Star) - September 22, 2013 - 12:00am

Sure, I’ve tasted pet food. And so have countless other animal owners that love their pets.

It can’t be helped. When your favorite dog or cat becomes so finicky that he refuses to eat anything other than the most expensive specialty pet food, you have to try and find out how to replicate the flavors that he loves in your home kitchen. Otherwise, you risk burning a hole in your pocket by spending too much on store-bought pet food, or else be conscience-stricken as your pet gives you his most pathetic and hungry stare.

Such is the case with my family’s top cat, Flow. While his pals are happy enough to dig into their usual platefuls of pet food, he sniffs at his dish, turns up his nose at the food and looks up expectantly and disdainfully as if to say, “Really? Is this all we’re getting?” He has turned onto such a snobbish “cat gourmand” that he is picky about the flavors of kibble served or the brands of wet food set before him. What it has come down to is that we’ve resorted to feeding him apart from the other felines so that he can enjoy his costly meals in peace.

Our problem now, however,  is that the other cats know something is amiss. They realize that it is unfair that they are not getting anything as special, and demand that they have equal treatment and are served the same expensive cat meals. The result is that their usual big  can of wet food sits open in  the refrigerator untouched. Now, all the cats rush towards us when feeding time comes. The smarty-pants cat brats have become so discerning that they can recognize the distinctive sound of expensive pop-top  cat food opening

Thus, to hear of a certified chef preparing gourmet pet treats is welcome news for pet lovers like us. While chef Giannina Gonzalez is equipped with formal culinary school credentials and can prepare gourmet meals for discerning humans anytime, she has chosen to cook for animals too. True, she has deviated from the culinary paths that her famous father chef Gene Gonzales, or her equally known brother chef Gino Gonzales have taken, but she is undeterred. Using superior and safe ingredients, she formulates recipes from scratch to cook healthy pet food.

“Unless you’re a pet owner, you wouldn’t understand,” says the 29-year-old chef about people who scoff at what she does. “But think about it — It would be impossible to be unkind to people if you are kind to animals.”

She shares that she works with veterinarians and other pet professionals to cook food for animals with health concerns, and assures pet lovers that no harmful preservatives or additives are incorporated with the treats. “A big part of being a responsible chef means working with safe ingredients,” she says. “There should be no distinction whether you are cooking for people or pets.”

But then, it is only right that healthy owners have healthy animal companions, too. Chef Giannina assures us, “This is good stuff for your pets.” At her kitchen in the ground floor of the Center for Asian Culinary Arts in San Juan, she makes liver or salmon muffins, kitty tuna bites with hairball helpers, herbal breath fresheners and a host of other low-salt pet treats. We tasted some of the treats and found them quite palatable.

“I’ve always loved animals. I even wanted to be a veterinarian when I was a little girl,” shares the chef as she goes about her kitchen chores. A friendly Golden Retriever named Jack who is obviously devoted to her constantly follows closely at her heels.

“My grandmother bred Samoyeds and Spitzes, and my dad had a thoroughbred horse. But I was discouraged from becoming a veterinarian  after seeing a hose inserted in a horse’s throat after this was stricken with colic. The blood and gore are not for me.”

Nevertheless, chef Giannina does her best to care for animals other than her own. “Part of the whole Pet Kitchen’s profits go to the Mandaluyong Animal Shelter and I’ve volunteered at PAWs.” She has been bitten by an animal before but continues to love them still. “Your pets love you unconditionally,” she says. “They don’t hold grudges. They will love you at your best and at your worst.”

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To know more about Whole Pet Kitchen is a pet deli and “bark-ery” email or send a message to 0917848857.


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