“Hola, Rizo Mex-to-Go!”
Sun.Star Davao, July 13, 2013
Almost every household has a cherished family recipe and for mompreneur Jennifer Dumlao, it was her maternal grandmother Ellen Dakudao’s lip-smacking chorizo that was on top of her list.
“Knowing how her ‘parientes’ looked forward to her delicious meals, my Lola Ellen would gather her ingredients and test different recipes every day. She would whip up various dishes from scratch and did not stop enhancing a dish until the smell, look, taste and texture was perfect”, recalls Jennifer, a former event organizer.
“Sometime in the 1980s, Lola Ellen was reminiscing about a Spanish-inspired recipe of chorizo that she remembered being served in her household when she was a young girl”, shares the mom of two.
Lola Ellen and her then junior assistant Jennifer began to experiment with different spices and flavors to bring together the “ideal fusion of Spanish spiciness and Filipino-style sweetness to the chorizo”.
“After months of experimenting, the chorizo was finally launched at Lola Ellen’s home with just her family as the eager customers. The chorizo immediately became everyone’s ‘favorito’!”, enthuses Jennifer.
“We would gather around Lola’s cocina and eat the chorizo for breakfast, lunch and dinner. And when she wasn’t looking, the chorizo was somebody’s snack as well”, Jennifer giggles at the memory.
Pretty soon, amigos would drop by to sample the famous chorizo, and, at parties, it was the most requested dish.
By the 1990s, family friends requested to bring the chorizo home so that they could enjoy it with their families.
With her Lola Ellen’s well-loved chorizo recipe as the “star” of her new food business, Jennifer recently opened her first branch of Rizo Mex-To-Go.
“Being the true-blue Pinoy that I am, I “nicknamed” my food cart Rizo which is short for chorizo. Chorizo is the staple ingredient in all of my major food offerings like the Arroz con Rizo, BurRizo and the QuesaRizo. The name is also a tribute to my Lola Ellen, who created the recipe for the chorizo that I use in my store”, explains Jennifer.
“And because we are serving Mexican food “to go”, we tagged on the line “Mex-To-Go”, she adds.
“We are catering to people who are always on the go and would like to enjoy a delicious hearty meal or snack that would fit nicely with their active lifestyle”, smiles Jennifer.
Hearty home cooking
“Rizo’s food is rooted deeply in delicious, hearty home-cooking. As soon as you take your first bite, the flavors and aroma of the chorizo will bring you back to those times when your lola or your mom would cook your favorite comfort dish at home”, describes Jennifer.
In addition, she says that the Mexican-inspired presentations provide a novel and unique experience that makes Rizo exciting to food lovers. On the other hand, the main ingredient, chorizo, provides a familiar taste to the Filipino palate.
“So, far, our bestseller is the “BurRizo” (burrito with chorizo filling, P45). It is suitable as a light meal or a heavy snack because it is a good representation of all the food groups. A hearty serving of our Spanish-Mexican chorizo is enriched by healthy portions of crisp cabbage, juicy tomato and your choice of creamy or spicy sauce – all wrapped in a flavorful flour tortilla”, recommends Jennifer.
Other must-try items on their menu are the QuesaRizo (P40 per order of 2 pieces), which is a quesadilla with chorizo filling and Torta (Mexican sweet cake, P18 for an order of 2 pieces).
The staple of Rizo Mex-To-Go, the Arroz con Rizo (P65) showcases their famous Spanish-Mexican chorizo topping with a good serving of white rice sautéed with tomatoes and corn; wonderful with egg cooked sunny-side-up and may be served with salsa.
Developing the brand
Instead of conveniently choosing a business franchise, Jennifer developed her Rizo Mex-To-Go brand.
For Jennifer who also acts as the manager of RLD Enterprises, a real estate company, it was such a joy and a challenge to create something endearingly real from nothing but ideas and dreams.
By setting up her own food cart business, she was able to bring to life this idea and desire to share a popular and delectable family recipe with other people and create a thriving business out of it as well.
“I felt the need to give free reign to my creative and organizational skills. I wanted to develop my own concept, systems and processes and implement them in the best way I know how”, Jennifer discloses.
Personalized food cart
“It was not hard to come up with the concept for Rizo. The main product was already existing – our home-cooked chorizo. It only took a little bit more imagination on my part to come up with the different ways to present the chorizo”, details Jennifer.
Jennifer also hired the services of Jun Serrano of Business 1st Management Consultancy who helped her to develop her brand; plan, strategize and organize her business; and implement operational systems and processes.
Jun was then joined by Cocoy Paguio who does the operations and marketing and Ron Cunanan who designed and manufactured the cart.
The logo, cart and food presentation were all designed to be pleasing to all customers. The food crew were hand-picked and trained to provide the best service and maintain company standards.
“With the help of Jun and his team, everything came together perfectly and pretty soon, we were launching the first Rizo Mex-To-Go food cart!”, says the bedimpled Jennifer beaming with pride.
Visit Rizo Mex-To-Go at Victoria Plaza ground floor (across Park ‘N Shop). Its second branch will also open soon at Gaisano Mall Toril. E-mail email@example.com. Like Rizo Mex-To-Go on Facebook.
E-mail the author at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit www.momabouttowndavao.blogspot.com.