Their family owned the FAB Hi Bakery in Lipa City, Batangas. It was named after the acronym of Fernando Air Base, where the bakery was located. All family members helped in running the bakery. As such, it was natural for Jojo and Jing to acquire baking skills at an early age.
The brothers, however, dreamt beyond their family bakery. Going to Manila for college, they opted to be in other fields. Jojo graduated with a medical technology degree from Philippine Women’s University, and Jing a business administration degree from Letran College.
But no matter what they did, the world of baking always beckoned. When Jing arrived in America, he studied at the Wilton School of Cake Decorating and Confectionery Art in Darien, Illinois. He was a master cake decorator at Rolf’s Bakery in Lincolnwood, Illinois, for 12 years. “I decorated at least 50 cakes a week,” he remembers. He is currently an instructor in advanced pastry and baking at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Chicago.
When Jojo later arrived in America, he and Jing decided to get into the baking business, but it would only be for orders and delivery. “Passersby, especially Filipinos, ” Jojo recounts, “would smell bread in the air. They would knock on the door and ask if they could purchase what we were making. We just couldn’t say no.”
The knocks became more frequent. It was then that the brothers decided to turn their baking business into a store. And they never looked back. Cakes ‘n Crumbs Gourmet Bakery has created a buzz in Chicagoland (Chicago and suburbs) because of its myriad irresistible delights. It has an inviting appeal with its attractive and abundant baked goodies on display. The friendly ambience exudes nostalgia, reminding one of a typical neighborhood bakery in the Philippines. A big fan is Trudl Piñon Babet, who lives in Chicago. She always makes sure to stop by when she is in the area.
“I am crazy over the hot pandesal (salted bread in mini loaves)!” she exclaims. “It is hot—I mean literally and figuratively!” Other people’s favorites are sans rival (dessert cake), mango and ube (purple yam) cakes, ensaymada (pastry), and mammon tostado (toasted yellow-sponge cake). The cake orders for special occasions, such as weddings and birthdays, are countless.
Jojo attributes their success to the premium ingredients they use in their baking. “We guarantee freshness,” he adds, “Everything is made on site.” On the other hand, Jing believes that their being current in the field, like attending seminars and conventions, has tremendously helped their business. “We get to meet other people in the field,” he observes. “There is so much to learn from each other. I learn a lot from watching and giving baking demonstrations.”
Cakes ‘n Crumbs Gourmet Bakery is also a training ground for future bakers. Graciela Guzman, an extern from Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Chicago, appreciates the knowledge and experience that Jojo and Jing have given her. “My ancestry is Mexican,” she explains, “and there are similarities between Mexican and Filipino baking. I am widening my scope here.”
Jojo and Jing Palasigue have realized that their lives are primarily defined and enhanced by baking. Crumbs ‘n Cakes Gourmet Bakery is a living testament of their family tradition, hard work, and creativity. The world is more sweet, tasty, and delightful because of them.
Cakes ‘n Crumbs Gourmet Bakery
6028 Dempster Street
Morton Grove, IL 60053
Tel. (847) 965-2898
Photography and videography by Ivan Kevin R. Castro
Styling by Joan Vande Kieft
Rey E. de la Cruz, Ed.D., writes from Chicagoland when he is not loving the arts and traveling. He is the author of the children’s book, Ballesteros on My Mind: My Hometown in the Philippines, which also has Ilocano, Spanish, and Tagalog versions.
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