A Passion for Food and Fashion: Get to Know Girl Boss Rebecca Disini
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A Passion for Food and Fashion: Get to Know Girl Boss Rebecca Disini

A Passion for Food and Fashion: Get to Know Girl Boss Rebecca Disini

Fashion | May 18, 2022
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Although Rebecca Disini is known for her artisanal mirror cakes, she reveals that beyond work, she too is a fashion icon in her own right.

Childhood dreams change over time, but on a few occasions, they remain constant—up until adulthood. Rebecca Disini, for example, knew from a young age that her North Star pointed towards becoming a chef. “I first uttered the words ‘I’m going to be a chef ’ when I was nine,” she shares in her interview with NoliSoli.

This, however, did not come easy. In her teenage years—the turning point of her life—Rebecca’s parents discouraged her from pursuing a career in culinary. Opting instead to pursue a Marketing Degree at De La Salle University, she shelved her dreams for a much later time.

Whether by chance or by sheer willpower, her love for baking came after graduation. Being denied once again the chance to pursue further studies in culinary, she offered her services for free at the kitchens of Via Mare, where she was assigned to the pastry department. From there, she found her true calling, which she sought to improve through studies abroad—by first flying to London to study classical French techniques at Le Cordon Bleu, where she graduated with a Grand Diplome in 2016, and eventually, a Pastry Diploma from Paris.

Armed with impressive credentials, the next step was to build her portfolio. From teaching in the School of Hotel, Restaurant, and Institution Management (HRIM) at De La Salle-College of St. Benilde to becoming the Executive Chef at the British High Commission in Singapore, working for companies like Unilever and Monde Nissin, she learned and used her skills to do what she loved.

The next step? To create something to truly call her own. After giving birth to her daughter, she was juggling motherhood and a new baby—a business venture called Ooh la la! Cakes and Pastries, which grew in popularity for its mirror cakes. And while her previous jobs have taken her around many countries, her traveling soul finally found its home—in the Philippines, with family and loved ones, and a thriving business, to boot.

Who is your style icon and inspiration?

Audrey Hepburn and Lee Radziwill are true icons for me. Although they were American women, I feel their aesthetics were very much in keeping with French street style, which really inspires me—quite low-key, simple, lots of neutrals, [and] more timeless than trendy.

What local and imported brands are you usually drawn to?

I like to mix high and low fashion, and I like my clothes to last beyond a season—I’m practical [that way]. So I lean toward durable, invisible brands. A.P.C., C.P. Company, Aspesi, Carven, Cedric Charlier, Acne Studios, Comptoir des Cotonniers, Zero + Maria Cornejo, Lululemon, Uniqlo, Valextra, and Goyard are examples. Locally, one of my best friends’ brands, Filip + Inna, is a go-to, and I’m slowly collecting some of Janina Dizon’s pieces.

Which country do you find yourself enjoying the most in terms of shopping, sights, and adventure?

  • Shopping: I enjoy shopping in France, Italy, and Japan—not just for the clothes—but, more importantly, the food! I love small, unusual shops and markets.
  • Sights: I try to visit a place I have not been to every year so that I get exposed to new ideas, cultures, and flavors. But I do always find myself returning to Paris. I fell in love with the city, when I had to live there for my patisserie training—the atmosphere was and is so stimulating to me. I guess that’s obvious since my business is named Ooh La La! Cakes and Pastries.
  • Adventure: I am not a very sporty person—baking can be surprisingly physically taxing in itself. So I let my husband plan all the adventure activities for the family. We usually visit his second home—Boston, Massachusetts, [where] we are able to hike. And [we] have been planning to [go] mountain-skiing not very far from the city.

How did you deal with the pandemic?

Unlike many people, I was actually baking less than usual because of the pandemic’s impact on business. I was worried my brain might decay, so I enrolled in French language classes and read a lot of books. With Zoom—and [more] time on my hands—I was able to catch up with friends from abroad, and I also learned to enjoy [my] alone time more.

What did you do to help your kid deal with the pandemic?

My best friend and I taught her children and my daughter how to start a business from scratch—to give them a sense of purpose, help them build and hone skills, and instill both the value of hard work and the understanding that money doesn’t just come from nowhere. I’m proud that they managed to build a brand while enjoying themselves and even helping others earn and grow.

Bits and Bites Manila is the country’s first kid-centric dog treat business, and [is] still ongoing. They’ve employed more than 20 of their friends.

When did you start your cake business? Do you have a store?

In my previous roles, I would travel to two or three countries every week, pitching ideas to food giants. I got burnt out cheffing and making products for the corporate world. When I decided to come home to the Philippines, I really envisioned working from home to spend more time with my daughter.

[And] so, I started my homemade-to-order mirror cake business in November 2016. We work out of a relatively small kitchen, but I feel that it actually lets us focus a lot of love and care on every cake we make.

What are your business goals or plans for the coming years?

We pride ourselves on [using] top-caliber ingredients, and the pandemic really had a huge impact on my business plans, as sourcing became practically impossible. It made me realize what matters most to me—providing a stable income for my staff and never compromising on quality for our customers.

[Now], I’m just pleased to be able to return to business [and] doing what I love most. Another advantage of working from home is that I didn’t really need to reopen my kitchen! My plan is to keep doing what has made my customers happy, letting more of them know that we’re available again by phone or online and creating new flavors—while always sustaining our signature high standards.

How do you see yourself 10 years from now?

A decade from now, my daughter would be in college, so I see myself visiting her, wherever she may be. I will probably live by the sea because I am at the happiest—seaside! But I will still be baking cakes, probably return to teaching, and have more time to have plenty of dogs.

Right now, we have just one Yorkie, Nacho—we name dogs after food.

You told me that you are itching to travel.  Where would you like to go first? Why?

Paris—I need to buy ingredients for my cakes!

Text CANDY DIZON

Photography ED SIMON

Makeup YCIAR CASTILLO

Jewelry JUL B DIZON

Dresses GUCCI and JILL LAO

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Candice “Candy” Dizon is one of the country’s most renowned jewellers — taking over the reins of their late mother’s empire, Jul B. Dizon Jewellery. As the owner, marketing manager and designer of their shop at the Peninsula Manila, Candy is no stranger to life’s most precious gems (literally). Armed with undeniable wit and a great sense of style, she has paved her own path in the jewellery industry (along with her siblings). Her most prized possessions? Her two daughters, Jody and Jacqui.
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