“Try the vegan bagoong. It’s so good you wouldn’t think you were eating santol instead of shrimp paste,” said Susana “Annie” Pascual-Guerrero, whose cherished love affair with her kitchen and with the environment for over three decades and counting has led to the setting up of a 4,000-square meter patch of paradise in the urban jungle that is Quezon City.
Annie’s Kitchen, housed in the green compound in Kaingin Road, Quezon City (near the back part of La Vista Subdivision, not the one in Balintawak), has become Guerrero’s passion project and happy place.
It is an earth kitchen serving organic food using environmentally friendly and sustainable methods. It is surrounded by an herb garden, fruit trees, various vegetables and root crops, and even a chicken farm and a piggery—the compost of which are turned into biogas which helps power up the compound.
“In a world where environmental challenges seem so overwhelming, the easiest way for us to have a large impact is to reduce our individual waste, recycle, and compost,” she said.
Guerrero, a former president of the Zero Waste Movement and founder of the country’s top culinary school, the Center for Culinary Arts (CCA) Manila, has been advocating for a greener culinary scene.
The products sold at Annie’s Kitchen are free from artificial ingredients or chemicals and preservatives. These include the vegan bagoong, mixed root crop chips, banana chewies (organic saba), roasted tomato and mango salsa, wild honey sourced from eight Lumad tribes in Mindanao, and organic atchara.
There is also the trash can cookies which—never mind the funky-sounding name—are the perfect example of zero wastage in the kitchen.
“They’re called trash can cookies because they’re made of ingredients you would otherwise throw away,” Guerrero said. Orange rinds are dehydrated and chopped into small pieces, along with other excess nuts and fruits that can be found in the kitchen. Combined together, these result in delicious, Mother Nature-approved cookies!
Annie’s Kitchen also offers meal sets and packed food that can be delivered for parties and events. Her lumpiang labong with vinegar is simply divine—she intimated that the lumpia wrapper is the only imported ingredient as it absorbs less grease.
Her set menus—which include a starter, two main dishes, a vegetable dish, rice, beverage, and dessert—are very affordable, with the lowest at only P300 per person.
And as a great believer of paying it back and paying it forward, Guerrero’s kitchen staff—most coming from indigent communities—are all her scholars, too.
And of course, as Annie’s Kitchen leads the way for a holistic approach to sustainable culinary, her restaurant, Cravings is never far behind.
Cravings, which has evolved with three generations of Guerrero’s family—her daughter Badjie Trinidad and her grandchildren Pia and Bea—has become an eco-conscious restaurant that supports a waste-free lifestyle.
For the first time, Cravings is offering “Green Christmas” packages highlighted by a sustainable menu made with local produce and prepared through low energy, zero-waste methods.
“We want to show our customers and clients that it is possible to go green even with your events and catering,” said Pia Trinidad, Cravings’ business development head.
“This is more relevant these days as we know that whatever we do has an impact on our climate and our one and only planet—the Earth. We might as well be responsible citizens who uphold environmentalism in our deeds and daily life,” she added.
The lunch/dinner buffet menu Set A features appetizers such as root crop chips and tomato mango salsa and Annie’s organic salad. Hot selections include free range chicken with rosemary garlic rub, organic spaghetti bolognese, and roasted seasonal vegetables. Desserts include a seasonal fruit platter and table praline brownies.
For Set B, start with sopa de molo and Annie’s organic salad. Hot selections include pancit palabok, fried lumpiang labong, seared tilapia with coconut pineapple relish, and chicken inasal. Cap it off with assorted kakanin and a seasonal fruit platter.
It is a green holidays, indeed, for Cravings, and better yet, a green Annie’s Kitchen all year round.
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