Chef Waya Araos-Wijangco translates her passion for food to doing good for the community
TasteSetters: The Age of the New Norm, a food and beverage webinar series recently kicked off with a talk featuring three talented women chefs who shared their knowledge and tips in building a successful home business for amateur members of the foodie community, as well as budding entrepreneurs.
One of the women chefs featured is Chef Waya Araos-Wijangco, executive chef and owner of Goumet Gypsy Art Café, a well-loved source of good food and a neighbourhood favourite along Maginhawa Street. More than providing good food to the loyal foodies who flock the house-turned-resto, Wijangco is also the force behind Open Hand School for the Applied Arts, which prepares teenagers and young adults with special needs towards gaining independence through vocational courses and subsequent employment.
Thanks to her 20 years of experience in the culinary scene and as one of the respected movers and shakers in the food and beverage industry, Chef Waya has earned the respect and admiration of Manila foodies for her commitment and passion to serve delicious and interesting food. What makes Chef Waya and Gourmet Gypsy different is that to her –enjoying a good meal is equivalent to a full culinary experience: a mixture of senses enjoying the food she offers and the ambience and community experience present whenever you dine at Gourmet Gypsy.
Chef Waya encourages players in the food service business, as well as upcoming ones, to build a solid plan that takes into consideration the future of the industry, especially in the wake of the changing sensibilities in the industry. “Food will always be a communal, exciting community experience. That is why I believe that business owners should prepare to become more resilient and to come into the business with a wider perspective,” Chef Waya adds.
Chef Waya remains adamant on accepting the so-called “New Normal” as the standard in the food business, especially when it’s the lives and livelihood of the restaurant workers are at stake. She believes that now, more than ever, food safety standards should be the top-most priority.
However, the changing times due to the so-called “New Normal ” has mobilized Chef Waya to look to community building as a means to share her experience and knowledge in cooking, while also doing good and helping as many people as possible affected by COVID-19. Since the early days of the pandemic, Chef Waya combined her passion to serve good food with her dedication to helping others by serving meals to the many front liners.
In her talk dubbed, “Transitioning in a Crisis,” Chef Waya shared the transition both her restaurant and her Gourmet Gypsy team had undergone following the announcement of the enhanced community quarantine. From following strict protocols to hygiene and safety for both staff and customers, to being part of front liner feeding—supplying food to medical staff, construction workers, displaced workers, and the like.
She shares, “Now that we have been thrust into this unprecedented situation, we should be able to move to enable and effect the change we want. We are in a position to make things better, safer and more equitable for people working in the industry.”
Her involvement in helping support communities and extending support to front liners through feeding gave the Baguio-based chef a renewed sense of purpose especially during these trying times. By extending the same level of passion and enthusiasm to doing good, Chef Waya embodies the true definition of a Tastesetter: one rife with experience, who uses her skills and talent to influence for the good of the industry and others.