Published in Eastern Visayas Journal on May 4, 2021
Food is the centerpiece of any Filipino gathering. Priceless memories are made sitting around the table, talking to friends and family while getting their fill of lechon, adobo, and pancit, among others. On a normal day, it is typical to start our day with a steaming cup of coffee and pan de sal freshly baked by the neighborhood bakery. It is no wonder that a 2018 CNN Philippines’ article listed food as the first thing that Filipinos miss the most while living overseas.
Minerva and May Ayuste cater to this nostalgia for Filipino foods and breads in their adopted city of Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Customers cannot get enough of the pan de regla, Spanish bread, pan de coco, and hopia. Their bestseller is the sampler Filipino Breads in a Box that includes cheese de sal, regular pan de sal, and kalihim.
One could say that Minerva and May Ayuste were born to baking. The twins hail from Tunga, Leyte where they were involved in the family business, Ayuste Bakery. They would wake up at 2:00 AM to help make and package coco bar, chicharon carabao, and cookies that they sold in Carigara at 7:00 AM before going to school at 8:00 AM. After school, they would quickly change clothes to wrap more breads until 11:00 PM. “Our teachers would ask Mother Violeta what we did at night because we were always asleep at school!” Minerva and May recalled with amusement.
Their experiences at the family bakery instilled in them the value of hard work. After completing her technical degree, Minerva pursued her dream of working in Europe in 2001, working as an au pair for a Dutch host family. A year later, her chemical engineer sister May was petitioned by the same family. After just three years, both sisters received their Dutch citizenship and have settled in Veendem and Amsterdam.
It was May who revived her interest in baking first by making wedding cakes as a hobby 18 years ago. Minerva followed with a cake for her daughter’s birthday. Her Filipino and Dutch friends liked her cake and she started building a loyal client base for all-occasion cakes.
The sisters decided to join forces and established Twin Bakery in Amsterdam (https://www.twinbakeryamsterdam.nl/). Aside from their now famous breads, they offer the 90-Day Keto Challenge where the special diet is made fresh and delivered to customers. They also provide catering services for all occasions; they catered for 350 people at their latest event.
Even with their full schedules, they still have the time and energy to pursue their personal passions. Minerva is a dedicated runner and one of the founders of Pinoy Runners Global with 4,200 members. She also established Pinoy Runners PH with 3,200 runners and counting. She is completing the Abbot World Marathon Majors and finished Berlin, Chicago, London, and New York right before the pandemic happened. She ran the New York Marathon for charity and raised 6,500 euros. May was influenced to run and consider Minerva as her chief motivator.
What are the next steps for Twin Bakery and the twins? May answered, “we are now supplying restaurants in The Netherlands with red velvet cookies for their dessert menu, and Asian stores with Filipino breads and pastries. Our goal is to open a one-stop shop.” She added, “It’s funny how life went full circle. When we were growing up, we were helping our parents pack baked goods. Now it is our parents helping us here in Amsterdam pack the products for our customers.”