Published in Eastern Visayas Journal on April 25, 2021
One successful young entrepreneur who knew what she wanted early in life is Cherry Dadula Darcourt. She is currently making waves with her Filipino foods in her adopted hometown of Lherm, south of France.
Cherry is successful in a discerning community that takes pride in its French cuisine and has stiff competition from Thai and Vietnamese cuisines. “My bestsellers are lumpia, mango float, and leche flan,” Cherry began. “They also love the sweet and tart combination of the pork adobo.”
“My earliest memory of cooking is when I was between four- and five-years old,” Cherry shared. She was a military brat, moving with the family to follow her father who was in the Philippine Army and stationed all over the Philippines.
Army families took care of each other in military bases. Her mother taught her how to cook and her aunts helped take care of her and her siblings. When she started going to school, they made kakanin like puto and ice candy to sell to her friends and classmates.
Cherry’s dad was assigned to Tacloban City for 11 years. She decided to pursue her passion in cooking and took up Culinary Arts and Service Technology at JE Mondejar Computer College, completing the program in three years.
While working in the food service industry, she was swept off her feet by Frenchman Guillaume while he was on vacation in the Philippines. They were married in France in 2015.
She quickly adjusted to married life, a new country, and a new language. She met some Filipinas in the community and bonded with them by inviting them to her home and cooking Filipino foods. Her skinless longganiza was an instant hit with her new friends who encouraged her to start a food business at home.
Cherry started Mayela’s Kitchen in 2016 with one product: the skinless longganiza. Her husband’s family gave her their full support and helped her pass the strict French standards to get the health and business permits in order to operate an online home business.
Named after her first-born daughter, Mayela’s Kitchen is growing steadily each year. She added more products to her menu such as chorizo, daing na bangus, gourmet tuyo, and gourmet bangus tinapa. Her customers come from all parts of Europe, and her products have even reached the United States. After the birth of her son, she expanded into catering for all occasions.
She attributes her success to the support of her family and the wise words of one of her culinary arts teachers in Mondejar College. According to Cherry, “Mrs. Lacaba was very supportive of her students and she gave one particular advice that I will never forget – cook with our hearts in order to get the flavors right.”
Her advice to Warays looking to go into the Filipino food business abroad: “Never compromise the quality of your food. Be authentic and use only Filipino ingredients even if they are more expensive to use.”
She uses only Philippine mangoes and graham crackers for one of her bestsellers. Her customers are loyal and places regular orders due to the consistency of her products and foods.
The next step for Cherry is to open her own restaurant soon. With her strong work ethic and her love of Filipino foods, we can expect her restaurant to reaffirm her success with the online food business.