Behind every great cook is a lifetime of fond memories of food and the people it was shared with. Ann Puno, the dessert genius behind Ann Puno’s Kitchen, is no exception. At 59,
Mrs. Puno is a formidable woman: she’s a multi-awarded baker, a successful entrepreneur,
a loving wife, a doting mother, and a cancer survivor.
Her journey from kid in the kitchen at her mother’s elbow to a matriarch and business woman running her own enterprise is a joy to follow; a rare feel-good tale of how one woman listened to her instincts and created a path of her own, lit by moments of love with friends and family.
How it all began
Like many Filipino children, Ann remembers watching her mother and grandmother prepare their meals, busily tending to several pots and pans on top of their trusty La Germania gas range in a well-lit kitchen. “I lived in the province where there were no bakeshops,” Ann says, “but I remember that every birthday, my mother would make us birthday cakes from scratch. Sometimes, she would even make donuts from scratch.”
Later, as a newlywed armed with the same La Germania oven she had watched her mother make her birthday cakes with, she kept baking. She created flavors that won over the Filipino palate, and her cakes grew in popularity. The rest, as they say, is history.
A language of love
Through the years, Ann has constantly improved upon her craft. With her trusty La Germania oven ever by her side, she has founded her business and created a complete system to keep her family well-fed and feeling well-loved.
As her children grew up, they learned to recognize the signs of her love. “They know that [making their favorite dishes] is a way that I offer them lambing, and comfort,” she says. Like her mom, she made birthday cakes for each of her children’s birthdays. When the kids came home, there were always snacks ready for them (and often, their friends). Even when they had grown up and their schedules became less predictable, they knew that their mom always had something waiting for them. “They know that when they come home, there is something good to eat. This is my act of service, this is how I show love,” she says.
Protecting her legacy
As her family grows and changes, her business expands, and her personal journey continues to take her in more directions, Mrs. Puno is dedicated to preserving all the memories that they shared through the years. She keeps records of the dishes she created in several notebooks filled with handwritten notes, some photos, and even mementoes. There’s a collection of books and scrapbooks filled to the brim and that she’s constantly adding to. This will be her legacy to her grandchildren, and for the people her family chooses to bring into their fold.
That, and maybe one of her ovens. She has one heavy duty La Germania oven that she only uses during peak seasons. On the off seasons, it gets thoroughly cleaned, packed up, and carefully stored in a shed behind the house. Knowing how sturdy these ovens are—Ann’s mother’s original oven is still in service after all these years—there’s a good chance her grandkids will still be able to bake in one of hers.
She has always told her children about the value of money and advises them that when you buy something, it should always be of value. Her La Germania oven is a great example. Being one of the most trusted brands in the market, these ovens are made for heavy-duty use, and with the proper care, can go for years without having to be maintained or repaired. That’s great value for money!
It’s the only brand Ann has ever used in her kitchen, and with good reason. Each oven has taken the demands of a growing family and a thriving bakery business in stride. So far, none of them have needed to be replaced, only repaired or added to. To date, she keeps two in her kitchen, another in their vacation home, and another in storage to be brought out when the demand for her baked goods exceeds the capacity of her two active La Germania ovens.
It has not been an easy life. But it is a rich, full one. “Sometimes, my husband and I like to think back on all we have gone through. Just talking about it, and being thankful, because even if we have had difficulties, we have always overcome them as a family. Looking at where we are now, we can truly say that we have made a home.”