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Starweek Magazine

50 ‘simply delicious’ years

- Lydia Castillo - The Philippine Star

From the vision and pioneering spirit of a trio of Filipino gentlemen  (Jose Soriano, Carlos Uy and Felix Maramba Sr.) evolved a product that has been in most households in the country for the last 50 years. They were the  founders of the Liberty Group of Companies (Liberty Flour Mills, Inc., Liberty Commodities Corp.) from which evolved the now famous and best selling brand of baking flour and mixes, Maya.  

This year, Maya turned 50 and in joyous celebration, the couple who inherited the legacy of the company, Ernie and Nining (Lourdes Maramba) Fajardo, could not but pay tribute to the brand and the products it now carries, as well as to acknowledge the many who helped them attain the older men’s objectives. 

“Simply Delicious – 50 Years of Good Food from Maya” is this tribute,  a glossy book that is more than a cookbook. It is a chronicle of the history of bread making in the country, a very interesting and informative collection of data tracing the birth of the Filipino tinapay back during the Spanish era to the present modern techniques of baking.     

Since its inception 50 years ago, the company has embarked on research and development and that resulted in various products. The initial hot cake mix is now an institution, made at home and in commercial outlets by both adults and the young, as young as our apo B, seven, who delights in mixing and cooking the pancakes. The collection expanded to include new innovations, like the toaster oven mixes that include brownies and bibingka for easy baking and quick selling. There are over 150 recipes, including a healthy line and halal. Liberty mentored housewives and culinary students, children even, since 50 years ago, in what was the Maya Culinary School, transformed into the bigger and better equipped Maya Culinary Arts Center in the Liberty Building in Makati. Here the six-month series of cooking demos presided over by the country’s prominent chefs takes place.   

But the most memorable special event mounted by the group was the Great Maya Cookfest in late 1970s, the pioneer in promoting Filipino food in a culinary exchange program involving young aspiring chefs, most of whom are now luminaries in the field. No less than the late Nora Daza was the main figure in these events. Partnered with Cathay Pacific, the cookfest had six winners each year, three in each category (cooking and baking), who were sent to culinary exchanges in neighboring countries. This created a great impact in the industry by promoting Filipino cuisine as well as learning from others. 

At the book launch that evening, some alumnae of Maya, who were part of the original organization and are prominent present day chefs who cut their teeth with Maya, were present. But there was a big void – the esteemed Nora Daza was no longer around. This is likewise a fitting tribute to the culinary legacy that she has left. We all missed her.

In another chapter of the book are contributions from current “darlings” of the food industry who are weaving their magic in various restaurants in the country, needless to say inspired by the pioneering spirit of the three founding men. Last but not least is the prediction of the Future of Food in the Philippines by knowledgeable writers. What they see is healthier, simpler but exotic food, just as they are going to continue being experimental.

Bake today and please the family.

E-mail me at [email protected]

ACIRC

CARLOS UY AND FELIX MARAMBA SR.

CATHAY PACIFIC

ERNIE AND NINING

FUTURE OF FOOD

GREAT MAYA COOKFEST

JOSE SORIANO

LIBERTY BUILDING

MAYA

NBSP

NORA DAZA

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