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Of lechon and secret recipes

First Posted 09:50:00 09/21/2009

When one says Cebu, what comes to mind is Lechon (roasted pig) is CnT Lechon.

But its humble beginnings could be traced back in 1988 when couple Catherine and Norman Quijada would cook and sell one lechon every Sunday in a small stall in front of their house in barangay Guadalupe, Cebu City.

They would sell their lechon at P120 per kilo.

?Nagsugod ra jud mi ug isa ka lechon. Di pa gali to mahurot, ipa-utang pa gali to namo (We just started with one lechon. Sometimes, we would not be able to sell everything. We would just sell it on credit),? Catherine said.

Catherine said the business was conceptualized by Norman who loves to cook.

?When he was young, he used to watch and help his mom cook,? Catherine said of her husband.

They called their lechon CnT, coined from the first names of Catherine, Norman and daughters Charmaine and T.

Prior to selling lechon, Norman used to sell various other food such as batchoy and products of R & M Preserves, where Catherine used to work.

Norman learned how to roast a pig by observing others.

Over time, the Quijadas came up with their own secret recipe.

The combination of herbs and spices made their lechon tasty and sought after, not only by Cebuanos but also by tourists.

When these tourists go home, they usually bring CnT lechon as ?pasalubong.?

CnT has a special packaging worth P65 that the lechon would still be crispy even when shipped outside Cebu either through planes and ships.

When they first started, Catherine said Norman did all the work: he woudl slaughter the pig, roast it and chop. Catherine would be the cashier.

They only had one worker who helped Norman slaughter and roast the pig.

From one lechon every Sunday in a humble stall at home in barangay Guadalupe, Cebu City, the business grew.

In 1989, CnT had a stall at the old Rustan?s in Mango Avenue, Cebu City.

When they started selling three lechons per day, CnT opened another outlet at the SM City Cebu. They then started receiving orders.

As demand for CnT?s lechon grew in 2005, the Quijada couple opened its first restaurant at the North Reclamation Area in Cebu City .

Now, the busines sells about 50 lechons on the weekdays and 80 pigs roasted on the weekends sold in all of their six outlets?stalls at the Emall, Ayala Food Choices and SM City Cebu, along Archbishop Reyes and two restaurants in Guadalupe near their home, and at the North Reclamation Area.

The CnT restaurant in Guadalupe opens at 6 a.m. on weekends to cater to those who want to bring lechon to the beach.

From one employee, CnT is now manned by about 100 personnel.

Awards

It does not come as a surprise that the Quijadas was named 2009 Small Business Entrepreneur by the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

In 2003, the CnT was also given the National Shoppers Choice Annual Award by the Asia Pacific Shoppers Choice Institute, Shoppers Choice Magazine, Essence Privilege Card, Hernz Choice Marketing Inc. and the Asian Philippine Association of Marketing Professionals.

One whole small-size lechon good for 10 to 15 persons is sold at P2,600 and P3,000 for the medium-size that can be consumed by 20-25 persons.

A large lechon fior 40 to 50 people cost P3,500.

At the malls, a kilo of CnT lechon costs P400 and P320 when bought in stores outside the malls and in their restaurants.

Catherine said that when a customer orders one whole lechon, they would also get a free dinuguan. The customer has a choice to get the pig innards should they decide to cook the dinuguan themselves.

Building

The couple has since bought a building at the North Reclamation Area and transferred their restaurant which was then located across Sungold and SM City.

The three-story building is at the back of the RCBC and CIFC building and is their biggest restaurant so far.

The ground floor is for customer parking while the restaurant is in the second floor. Plans to expand on their floor are being considered.

The Quijadas have their own slaughterhouse at the back of their house where the pigs are slaughtered and roasted.

The slaughter starts at 11 p.m. Roasting begins at 5 a.m. Catherine and Norman take turns in mixing their secret recipe.

?One of us has to be here because our recipe is a secret,? said Catherine, who added that because of that the family could not go on an out of town on vacation.

The most that the family can have is an overnight stay at a resort in Lapu-Lapu City.

A representative from the City Veterinarian?s Office is always present during the slaughter of the pigs to inspect their meat. Meat inspection would cost P50 per pig.

Catherine said they limit roasting pigs at a 100 per day basis so as not to sacrifice the quality of their lechon.


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