First Filipino ice cream brand gaining ground in Europe
"The bestseller is still Ube (purple yam), followed by Philippine Mango and classic Rocky Road." Jofelle Tesorio, ABS-CBN News
Jofelle P. Tesorio, ABS-CBN News | Posted at May 08 2019 05:25 PM
With its distinctively Filipino taste, it became popular in the Netherlands and is already available in Belgium, UK, Denmark, Norway, Finland, and Sweden to cater to Filipinos who have longed for the taste of home.
For couple Rhea Topacio and Dennis Rogacion, finding the perfect Filipino ice cream blend was not easy. The line of ice cream began through trials and errors with friends as tasters.
Luneta Ice Cream’s best sellers are ube (purple yam) and Philippine mango. Other flavors include Macapuno (coconut), Kapeng Barako (coffee), Pandan, Rocky Road, Classic Vanilla, Banana, Melon and Lychee, and Pineapple sorbet —flavors that Filipinos grew up with.
“It should be something that reminds every Filipino of what is the Philippines. Pag sinabi mo ang word na iyon, naaalala niya ang Pilipinas. Pag sinabi mo iyong Luneta naaalala mo iyong ice cream. Kahit ano ang nangyayari sa Manila, sa Luneta. Pag Sunday, pupunta kayo ng Luneta. Ganun kami lumaki,” said Topacio of the origin of their ice cream.
(When you say that word, you remember the Philippines and when you say Luneta (Park), you think of the dirty ice cream. Whatever happens in Manila, you always come back to Luneta. Every Sunday, you go to Luneta. That’s how we grew up.)
Topacio’s husband, Dennis, migrated to the Netherlands when he was a teenager to join his father who was working in an airline company. He basically grew up in the Netherlands but had memories of the Luneta Park.
The couple were first introduced to each other online through a common friend in Manila. They started as good friends who gave each other advice. Dennis came to Manila after 16 years of being away to meet Topacio. The rest is history and she came to The Netherlands in 2010 to join him.
Topacio had a flourishing career in Manila as head of marketing of a logistics chain but she was confronted with uncertainties in The Netherlands, especially with limited job opportunities. She decided to take her own chance and build a company to start her small businesses that range from marketing Filipino products and building webpages, to making artisanal chocolates and cupcakes.
Both didn’t have a solid business background but Rogacion was into procurement and knew how to navigate the Dutch system. He underwent training in hotel, restaurant and catering, a requirement to get into the business of selling ice cream, a food product.
They make sure that the Pinoy ice cream is visible in every food festival in The Netherlands to make it more accessible to the public. They also introduced to the Dutch Filipino desserts like halo-halo topped with ice cream.
“We want to promote Filipino cuisine to other nationalities apart from the Filipinos through our product. The Dutch are willing to try new things. This is good for the whole Filipino community because it makes us proud of our heritage,” said Rogacion.
They couple still cook the ingredients themselves and personally deliver the ice cream to clients and distributors. The ice cream is still made artisanal-style and in smaller batches per production to keep the quality.
“So community-based kami talaga. So pati sa pagbebenta, sa stores, more with friendships na patuloy na sumusuporta sa amin so iyon ang pinaka-essence ng Luneta. Wala kaming employees. Talagang partnership with different companies,” said Rhea.
(From selling, in looking for stores, we are helped by friends who have been supporting us. That’s the very essence of Luneta. We don’t have employees. It is just partnership with different companies).
This Pinoy ice cream is slowly making its niche in the competitive ice cream market. It is available in the biggest Asian supermarket chain in the Netherlands and different Filipino distributors. After expanding outside The Netherlands, they want to be present in Middle East and to be available in many countries where Filipinos are scattered and to bring it back where it should have started.
“Iyon iyong pinaka-ultimate dream, na ang Luneta maging available sa Pilipinas. So in a couple of years, we are hoping that we will be there.”
(That’s the ultimate dream, to make Luneta available in the Philippines.)
For many Filipinos, Rizal Park is not only a historical park located in the heart of Manila. Commonly known as Luneta, Rizal Park has become an integral part of the Filipino society through the years, almost synonymous to family days and weekends out.
Summers spent in Luneta conjure up images of sweltering heat made bearable by the cool breeze from the Manila Bay, of colourful balloons in different shapes and sizes sold by vendors along the Rizal monument, Sunday picnics at the Japanese garden, children gathered around the cart of Mamang Sorbetero waiting for their crispy cone of sorbetes and ice cream on a bun, or eating barbecue and hotdogs from the stalls along the Quirino Grand Stand while watching the sunset of Manila Bay.
The memories of summers in the Philippines are what inspired the couple Dennis Rogacion and Rhea Topacio of Dea Chocolates to come up with a line of artisan ice cream they lovingly named after Luneta. With flavours such as ube macapuno, halo-halo, mango and buko pandan, Luneta ice cream not only whets your appetite but also reminds of the beautiful time of growing up in the Philippines.
“We want to offer everyone, Filipinos and Europeans alike, the kind of food that makes someone feel good. Our products give you that cozy feeling, whether you are having a bad day or enjoying a good time. For our Filipino customers, it gives them a sense of being home, a reminder of how home tastes like.” says Rogacion.
Staying true to the tradition of home-made products like Dea chocolates and Taartini Designer Cupcakes, they only use natural ingredients in making the base of Luneta ice cream, giving each scoop a delightfully creamy and silky texture.
“Our ice creams are made with no additional artificial emulsifiers or stabilizers. Most flavours are hard to find and some are even unique to the European palate. You could say that this is our way of introducing the goodness of Filipino food to the Europeans albeit in a very sweet way,” says Topacio.
Current available flavours of Luneta ice cream are Buko Pandan (creamy pandan with coconut bits) Halo-halo (a mix of white and red beans, nata de coco, kaong, Jack fruit, banana and milk), Mango (made from Philippine mango, the best in the world), Ube Macapuno (purple yam with coconut sport strings) and the classic Rocky Road (with roasted nuts and marshmallows).
Luneta Home-made Ice Cream is available in selected restaurants and retail shops in Europe. They are also open to work with caterers and wholesalers upon request. For more information, visit www.lunetaicecream.com or contact them via email firstname.lastname@example.org or call +316 218 202 88.
Philippine Mango Ice Cream drizzled with Lemon Olive oil? A perfect combination for a healthy and refreshing taste.
It was a great opportunity for Luneta Ice Cream to be a part of the cooking demo lead by Chef Ces of Ces Kitchen and Ladi Biosas λάδι βιώσας Premium Virgin Olive Oil at the FairPlaza Inspiratie Dagen in Culemborg Netherlands. One of the featured recipes is a choice between Luneta Ice Cream’s Philippine Mango, Melon, Pineapple Sorbet, Lychee Sorbet and Macapuno (Sweetened aged Coconut), then drizzled with either Lemon, Orange or Original Premium Ladi Biosas Olive Oil. The taste is classy and fresh as the flavors blend and brings out the best in both products. Highly recommended for everyone this summer. Visit our websites to know how to get hold of this exclusive goodness.
Recently, Filipino cuisine has been making headlines abroad. Apparently, our local dishes have hit the jackpot among casual diners and foodies. From the well-known adobo to the more complex sinigang, our native dishes and filipino recipes have indeed come so far. Thanks to Filipinos living abroad, they have kept the Filipino spirit alive through cooking. It’s a Pinoy pride thing; it has enabled the enterprising spirit of the Filipinos working and living abroad to share our dishes with foreigners.
What makes our dishes special? No matter how simple or complicated Filipino dishes are, you know that aside from it takes time and effort to prepare these dishes, love is an extra ingredient in preparing them. That’s why the term lutong bahay has always been the word-of-mouth that drove our dishes to the forefront of the culinary world.
That aside, lutong bahay gives that vibe of love, care and deliciousness you only get when food is home cooked. You always look forward to having your meals at home after a long day. These dishes have found its home abroad and they are fast becoming favorites by foreign taste buds too.
Then there’s the dessert. From the simple minatamis na saging to the all-time summer favorite halo-halo, and the most popular purple ube halaya, these desserts are prepared at home. What more if your dessert is an ice cream tailored fit to suit the Filipino taste buds? Pinoy ice cream! I remember my grandfather used to make ice cream for us. And that’s always been a treat! Flavors like ube and mango, or buco pandan, and other local ingredients… that’s what makes it Filipino. That’s what makes it sariling atin. And bringing that culture abroad, that Pinoy pride, is the entrepreneurial spirit of every Filipino.
In The Netherlands, Luneta Ice Cream has been promoting the Filipino culture, that sense of sariling atin, through its ice cream with native flavors like mango, ube, buco pandan, macapuno… truly authentic Filipino ice cream! What makes it truly Pinoy is that it’s personally managed and made by its owners. The right ingredient that makes any Filipino food authentic and real. That kind of claim can only be made by Luneta Ice Cream.
“We have thought of bringing smiles to our fellow Pinoys here. So we ventured into making Pinoy ice cream. Thus was born Luneta Ice Cream. From the basic of ice cream flavors to our new offerings, all of these are borne out of our love and pride for our home country,”
-Rhea Topacio, Luneta Ice Cream’s Managing Partner, says in an interview.
“We want to share this passion with you, to bring that taste of authentic Filipino ice cream,”
– Dennis Rogacion, Luneta Ice Cream’s other partner, interpolates.
“That kind of care and meticulousness that is a throwback to all things Pinoy when it comes to preparing food, that’s what Luneta Ice Cream is all about. We want to inspire the Filipinos here, that they’re not alone in working towards success. We are working on our success. So they can do it too!”
Many Filipinos are trying to find the right combination to succeed, wherever they are; whether it’s work or putting up a business. Some have brought native dishes to commercially share it, some have even found their niche and established their own restaurants and catering services. And they’ve found support among the Filipino communities and the locals there.
Whatever the case may be, with the number of Filipinos working and living abroad, you already have a market for the Filipino dish, be it main course or dessert. Proof that our sariling atin has a place in the global dining table.
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