The Classy Girl Behind Classic Confections
Baba Ibazeta talks about the sweet stuff and looks back on her dessert beginnings.
If Baba Ibazeta was a dessert, I'd say she'd be a Banana Cream Pie, subtly sweet with many layers that continuously surprises and delights.
When I arrived to chat with the classy girl behind Classic Confections, Baba was standing behind the counter, taking orders and chatting easily with her customers who were popping in and out. In a violet dress with a classic yet chic cut, hair neatly pulled back, she was a picture of timeless class with a twist of modern edge. Later, as I dove into her banana cream pie, I would find out how she was very much like her desserts in that same sense.
After talking with Baba, I've been able to devise my own recipe for the creation of a successful 9 year old dessert business. Here are its ingredients.
In college, Baba knew that she didn't want to be an employee. She had always wanted to start her own business. She sat back and thought: What am I passionate about?
As a kid, Baba would spend her summers baking and playing sports. Though the types of sports played varied from summer to summer, one summer activity remained constant for her - baking. She enjoyed it so much that she later decided to pack up and head off to cooking school in San Francisco.
To have a dessert shop, you have to love desserts. Given a scale of 1 to 10, Baba says her sweet tooth ranks at about 8. To curb her own desire for the sweet stuff, she makes a conscious effort not to make her own desserts too sweet or overpowering.
A Sense of History
It doesn't hurt to have the passion and talent passed on to you from your ancestors. Though Baba's parents did not bake, it was her lola who was reputed to have been the great cook of the family. It seems that Baba has taken on her lola's chef's hat. Her parents also influenced her in their own way. "Every weekend, my [mom and dad] would let me choose one cookie from the bakery. I always got this big smiley face sugar cookie."
Now, Baba collects cookie cutters of different shapes and sizes and makes fun sugar cookies for her customers. My coffee was graced with a cartoon-like sugar cookie on the side. Biting into it, I understood what she meant when she said that "sugar cookies taste like childhood."
For Baba, her favorite patisseries abroad are Masse's Bakery at Berkeley, where she interned and later worked. Her recommended specialties of Masse's are the breakfast pastries like the chocolate croissants, the French pastries and the lemon mousse.
Another favorite of her's is Payard in New York. Raving about the layout, the desserts and the high end polish, Baba's eyes lights up as she says, "You step in Payard and it looks like perfection." It's this perfection that she strives to pattern her own store after, though she's opted for a cozier, less intimidating shop than the ultra high end Payard Bistro.
At the time when Baba wanted to learn how to cook, there were very few culinary arts schools in Manila, so she signed up for a cooking program in San Francisco. After a short one month focus on baking, Baba took an internship in Masse's, where, after learning the ropes, she was offered a job there where she stayed on for a year before coming back to Manila.
Back home, Baba partnered up with a friend and together they started up Classic Confections. Baba recalled the hardships of beginning a business - 24 hour baking sprees during the Christmas rush, catering weddings and birthday parties, and nitpicking on the designs of packaging and the interior of the store (which looks plain yummy).
Classic Confections, made popular by word of mouth, has just celebrated its first anniversary in the posh Greenbelt 5, and its commissary in Pasig has been in business for 9 years.
When asked about the type of desserts she whips up, Baba prefers to serve quite familiar desserts with a twist - like her Kalamansi Bar and Mocha Sansrival. "I always like to give a dessert a twist to make it fresh and elegant. That way, it's something that's different but not intimidating."
When it comes to her philosophy on her desserts, Baba says, "Taste is number one. Nothing is pwede na. I always try to put out the best, something that I can be proud of. I want the store to be a total experience of good coffee and desserts. So from customer service to packaging, I want everything to be perfect."
Classic Confections serves all kinds of desserts, from the light and fresh fruit-laden cakes, to a plethora of cheesecakes (if she had to eat one dessert for the rest of her life, it would be cheesecake, she said), from cupcakes that remind you of when you were a kid attending birthday parties in big fluffy dresses, to cakes with espresso. Of course, there's her best selling Mini Almond Crunch and Russian tea cookies.
What's in store for Baba and Classic Confections this year? In her mind, it's to come up with something that will top the best selling Almond Crunch - a difficult but inevitably sweet feat.
Classic Confections has been nominated for Best Dessert Place in Gold Spots. To get a taste of Baba's creations, please visit Classic Confections at the 2nd Floor of Greenbelt 5, Makati City. For reservations or order inquiries, please call 746-2773 or (0917) 524-5892.