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Caroline Tanchay shares her passion for Dean & DeLuca |

Sunday Lifestyle

Caroline Tanchay shares her passion for Dean & DeLuca

FEAST WITH ME - Stephanie Zubiri - The Philippine Star

I believe I have proven to myself and to everyone that I can deliver a profit,” says Caroline Tanchay in the gentlest manner possible, without a trace of the arrogance that such a statement might entail. “With Dean & DeLuca, it is not about making a profit. For me, it is a passion,” she continues, her face aglow with wide-eyed enthusiasm and hopefulness, not unlike a woman falling in love. “It is a desire to share with people all the delicious things I’ve tasted elsewhere. I want to make them as happy as I am when I eat these breads and viennoiseries (puffed pastries)!”

  Don’t let her elegant and alluring looks fool you; this lady means business. Serious business. Tanchay is the head of a public mining company, a power company involved in renewable energies, an aggregate company that supplies a large market share of the concrete industry and which generated her first million as a teenager. But at this very moment, in the warm afternoon light, dressed in a soft blush sheath, she is more of a passionate idealist, hoping to evangelize the public in what makes for good bread and pastries.

  To her, bread and pastries are almost a matter of survival. With so much on her figurative plate, sinking her teeth into the most luscious of baked goods is what allows her to unwind. “When I am very stressed, pastries, good coffee — they relieve me from all the stress.” Just like with everything in her life, Tanchay is not just some passive consumer, she is very involved in her latest venture, bringing the famous Dean & DeLuca franchise to the Philippines and — to borrow an extremely apt expression from the French — Elle met les mains dans la pâte. She not only puts her hands in the dough, but researches it, kneads it and patiently observes by the hearth until it transforms into the perfect product. And although you will not find her behind the ovens at Dean & DeLuca — as she has scoured the world for the very best bakers in the world including one who used to work at her favorite bakery, Bouchon, and at the famed Michelin-starred Jean Georges — she is well versed in the minute details of baking.

  “I love bread. I wanted to create a bread without yeast. And pizza! Everything is sourdough, made from a 20-year-old levain (a leavening agent for bread)… The climate, the humidity, the altitude makes it very difficult for us to bake fresh every day.” She relates their one-year struggle during R&D to attain absolute perfection. “We have all the raw ingredients flown in from France, but I managed to find the right people to come and train the Filipino bakers to make the best product.”

As it turns out, Tanchay is an avid baker herself. You might just find her at midnight happily covered in flour, enjoying the tart and savory odors of freshly baked sourdough — a yeast-less bread that is not just dear to her palate but also her heart. “You see, my son was diagnosed with ADHD and one of the doctors had showed me a study that this can be linked to certain foods in one’s diet, one of which was yeast. And so I researched and came up with many recipes without it and eventually the disorder disappeared.”  It’s this soft yet affirmative candor that makes Tanchay unique. Most of the time I feel that these strong, extremely successful businesswomen in powerful positions are often portrayed as tough and masculine, the iron-fisted dragon lady who can play the same game as the boys. Caroline Tanchay is the perfect example of someone who owns her femininity entirely, embracing each aspect of her life wholly no matter how contradictory: from CEO of multiple corporations in a very masculine industry, to pursuing her passion project, to being a homemaker, a wife, mother and stress-relieving baker. “I work about 16 hours a day,” she explains. “My day starts at 8 a.m. but I go to bed at 3 a.m. — because my mining company operates 24 hours a day. In the morning I take care of operations, then the afternoons are for Dean & DeLuca, then I do some administrative work. I am always here for the kids when they get home after school then when they go to bed I go back to meetings!” Just when I thought her day was done, she adds: “Oh! And the first thing I do when I wake up is a make sure the house is in order. I let the staff know what food to prepare, oversee the proper cleaning and maintenance. All those things. I have to do all of that plus run a public company and now Dean & DeLuca!” she exclaims, chuckling. Despite her crazy busy schedule, she manages to find time to have lunch and dinner with her husband every day. “Yes, we eat lunch together every day. Even if it is just 20 minutes, we will have lunch together.” Oh, and when she is not baking at midnight she is exercising at midnight — no wonder she manages to stay so slim.

“It’s all about time management and I can’t do it all without the right people” she continues. “You need to be able to delegate. I’ve managed to find excellent people to delegate things to. Except being a mom and a wife, of course!”

Caroline Tanchay with freshly baked viennoiseries including some classics with a twist: Pretzel croissants and pain au chocolat, creme brulee croissants, coconut mango croissants and the classic almond croissants and pain au chocolat

So what brings someone who already has such a full life and a successful career to take the risk of venturing into the unknown world of food and beverage? And of all the things she could do, why did Tanchay choose Dean & DeLuca?

“I like the challenge,” she affirms. “Mining is the most difficult industry to be in and I like to do things that have never been done before. I like to do things that are difficult and I challenge myself to the next level. This new venture is something I am not familiar with and I like that.” Always the businesswoman, Tanchay was drawn to the thriving success of Dean & DeLuca in Japan and the flexibility the brand offers.

“Dean & DeLuca is ever evolving. Dean & DeLuca is flexible. They have shown a commitment through the years to quality. To being a purveyor of good foods throughout the world. Whatever is the new trend we can always bring it in and we are free also to adapt to the market we are in,” she says. “What I like is that we can do a hybrid café, a marketplace, a kiosk… Everything will depend on the location. We can take our time in order to develop the products that we feel our Filipino market will like such as our special coconut mango croissant.”

Their first store, set to open soon in Edades Tower and Garden Villas, Rockwell Center, Makati, will be a 100-seater featuring three areas — a hybrid café that will serve specialty coffee; a restaurant with an open kitchen; and a retail area that will carry quality food products from across the globe — all in the brand’s signature neoclassical minimalist décor where food is the show.

“The challenge is to make people laugh,” she says after a gentle pause in her enthusiastic discourse. “It’s come to a point where I want to see the smiles on the faces of the people who will eat our products.”

 As our interview winds down, as Tanchay herself is assembling a few boxes for me to take home and I have already eaten more than my fair share of gloriously messy, flakey croissant creations — like a decadent crème brulee croissant filled with custard, salted caramel and drizzled in crunchy burnt sugar, and too many slices of beautifully blistered sourdough pizza — something caught my eye at the corner of the dining room. This big, stunning golden retriever, with fluffy flaxen fur had been lounging the whole time, eavesdropping or perhaps waiting for a few crumbs. “Is this your dog?” I asked. “Yes! He just likes to hang around me.” At that moment it dawned on me: not only does she have an amazing career, a promising passion project, an impeccable home, a balanced family life and a slim figure despite her pastry obsession… this charming woman also has the most perfect dog. It was at that moment when I realized that, yes, Caroline Tanchay most definitely can have her pastry and eat it, too.

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