Badjie Guerrero-Trinidad is The 19th Mabuhay Gold - Hotelier of the Year Awardee!

19th Mabuhay Gold Awardee: Marinela Guerrero Trinidad

A badge of success.

- Humble Beginnings - 

Behind the 25-year success of The Cravings Group is the vision of a CEO who is guided by her mom. Marinela “Badjie” Guerrero-Trinidad looks up to her mom, Cravings President Annie Guerrero, who has taught her to live a Christ-led life, inculcating in her the values of hard work, humility, integrity, respect and service for others.

Having been exposed at a young age to her mother’s cooking skills since Ma’am Annie is a Home Economics teacher, it is not surprising that Badjie would also find her passion in preparing dishes and dessertswhich she would soon sell to neighbors in the village.

While many Filipinos would remember 1987 as the year the first-ever congressional elections after EDSA Revolution was held, the mother-daughter tandem would remember it as the year when they realized they could open a business outside the comforts of home.

“When we got an 8,000 volume order of packed food, that convinced us that we could do it,” says Badjie about their first foray into the food and catering business.

In 1988, they established a small take-out bakeshop counter in what used to be a parking lot for construction equipment in Katipunan. Their first employees were construction workers and their biggest investment was a P250,000-worth French oven, which until now remains in top shape.

The first Cravings store had an open kitchen with two sections—one for baking, the other for gourmet takeout.

“The idea was that mothers could drop by to order food by half gallons,” shares Badjie. But because their store was near the schools, students started coming over and ate in the parking lot. The mom-and-daughter tandem had to accommodate them, and soon they were using disposable plates, setting up tables and chairs, and drafting their first menu.

- Professionalizing the Workforce - 

Badjie did not just think of the business side of the culinary and hospitality industries. To sustain everything, she realized that there was a need to regulate it.

The process of teaching chefs to be managers and business owners to upgrade the quality of hospitality service in the Philippines was the inspiration behind the Center for Culinary Arts (CCA, Manila) and the Asian School for Hospitality Arts (ASHA).

CCA, Manila takes pride in producing thousands of industry practitioners, offshore chefs, restaurateurs, corporate chefs, chef instructors and celebrity chefs. On the other hand, ASHA has among its graduates some of the best workers in the hospitality industry and in-demand baristas.

“We had a Canadian guest from Alberta who asked us where Filipinos study if they wanted to learn how to be a chef. I told him we do not go to formal school; we just learn from experience,” narrates Badjie. “They invited us to go to their school, thenthey helped us form a competency-based curriculum where we interviewed prospective employers about what they look for in employees. That was the start of CCA,” she shares. Founded in 1996, CCA became the country’s first culinary institution, a pioneer and still the best in the country; while ASHA was established in 2008, paving the way for all the other hospitality schools in the country.

Today, the business of making and selling meals has become more complex. And with the culinary and hospitality industries still growing, schools like CCA and ASHA are producing more globally-competitive Filipino leaders and workers.
“What’s important is that we further elevate the quality of education and have the ability to constantly offer new horizons to students,” Badjie says. “Looking at CCA and ASHA’s track record, we are proud to say that we have fulfilled our mandate.”

- Spreading Its Wings - 

“Blood, sweat and tears,” says Ma’am Annie, as to what made Cravings the way it is now. Badjie agrees, adding, “There are no shortcuts to everything.”

From a humble bakeshop, Cravings has expanded its wings, offering a wide array of concept restaurants to the delight of customers.

Under The Cravings Group (TCG) brand, restaurants such as Cravings, C2 Classic Cuisine, The Coffee Beanery (TCB), Lombardi’s, Lucia, Epicurious, Wickedand its now popular B&P have further stamped the mother-daughter legacy in the industry.

C3 Events Place in Greenhills, Oceana in MOA area, and Casa Roces in Manila offer new twists on how diners can enjoy their food and celebrate memorable events. The Seven Suites Hotel Observatory along Sumulong Highway in Antipolo City is popular for having the fourth largest telescope in the country and an overlooking view of the metropolis that has become a favorite venue for weddings. Hotel chain The Orange Place has budget and boutique hotels under its belt located in Quezon City and San Juan, respectively. In partnership with hotels Summit Ridge Tagaytay and Summit Circle Cebu, TCG is offering the perfect food to complement a memorable wedding and formal banquet. More partnerships with prominent groups in the industry are in the pipeline.

“Growing the business is very challenging yet exciting,” Badjie says, “Though it remains a challenge for us to expand the business and train people, it continually excites me to find solutions and share it to the stakeholders in the industry,” she shares.

“As we grow the business, it is important to learn how to delegate because we’ve been so used to doing everything on our own. You have to train people to see things as you see them,” she says, noting that the schools have helped them a lot in terms of professionalizing their own businesses.

- TCG, a Sustainable Business - 

More than being an admired brand, TCG is also a sustainable business. TCG has received the ISO 14001:2004+Cor.1:2009 certification from TUV Rheinland last May 2013 for its green practices and sustainable operations. So far, it is the only company of its kind in the Philippines who enjoys this distinct recognition. On July 25, 2014, TCG passed the ISO Surveillance Audit that further strengthened its commitment to taking care of the environment by integrating a framework for an Environment Management System into the different aspects of its operations.

“We have managed to reduce waste, save in consumption of energy and materials, lower distribution cost and improve corporate image among regulators, customers and the public. A keen environmental management is a lifestyle that we religiously live by across all our brands,” says Badjie.

In April 2014, Badjie was invited as a panelist to the International Private Education Conference sponsored by the International Finance Corporation (IFC) held in San Francisco California, USA. She was able to share to the international community the direction of TCG in terms of sustaining its business operations in synergy with its sister brands by providing education and employment. The value of giving back is ingrained into the culture of TCG and through the Culinary Education Foundation (CEF), the company provides scholarship for culinary education to out-of-school youth, the women sector of the society and people with disability.

On July 14, 2014, TCG was recognized by an international award giving body, the Sustainable Business Awards (SBA) for its best practice in leadership for Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in the community.

As if holding a family heirloom recipe, President Annie is ready to turn over the company to her daughter. “I just want to farm,” she shares with a smile, having full confidence on her daughter’s capability to nurture and sustain the business.

And like her mother, Badjie is looking forward to growing the business, and then eventually passing it on to the next generation. “We hope we can sustain the Cravings brand. Whoever will manage it after us, I hope he or she can take it to greater heights,” she affirms. “TCG is not only a strong brand but also a brand borne out of passion, determination, and most of all, compassion.”

- Tips of Success from Badjie: - 

  • Invest in your people through continuous training.
  • Encourage innovation. You do not have the monopoly of great ideas, welcome new ideas from your people.
  • Look for long-term partners, those who will support you and can share your vision for the company.
  • Keep updated, whether through traditional or online media about trends and events so that you will always have something new to offer your customers.
  • Constantly have a passion to prioritize the satisfaction of your customers. A satisfied guest can become your loyal customer for years.

Copyright (c) 2012 Association of Human Resources Managers in the Hospitality Industry | All rights reserved.

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