Queen Mary’s Kitchen

I am here to promote one of the thousands of new businesses that have sprouted since Covid-19 struck.

If you want to savor delicious muffins, you ought to type “Queen Mary’s Kitchen” in Facebook and place an order. The baker behind these muffins? Clue: Though she uses her hands for this venture, her main profession involves her legs and feet.

Mary Joy Tabal, the queen of running, is now the princess of her kitchen. Used to running hundreds of kilometers outdoors, she was confined indoors, like all of us, starting March.

“Grabeh ako prayers (I prayed a lot), like every night jud, praying for something that would divert my worries, my overthinking,” Joy said of those early weeks. “I always want to be productive and the lockdown was so difficult. I realized that I needed to be creative and think of something that I love and have control of. I believe that whatever we feed will grow.”

Joy’s business started on June 21, Father’s Day.

“I dreamt about my Papa (Rolando, who passed away in 2017) before opening Queen Mary’s Kitchen and he has been my inspiration,” she said. “My papa was a very good cook and I was beside him when I was young. He taught me a lot in the kitchen. When I bake, I always think of my Papa.”

The 6-time Milo Marathon champ opted for baking muffins instead of cooking viands because, she said, “It’s an achievement when you get the right recipe and you’re able to give those who like it joy.”

Since Joy started, she has sold (as of yesterday) 2,755 muffins. That’s impressive (over 40 per day) for a first-time entrepreneur.

“The work is draining because I don’t only do the baking,” she said. “I also work on the packaging, the logo, the designing, the Facebook postings, the promos.”

But it’s all worth it, said the first Filipino to run the marathon in the Olympics (2016 Rio Games). When someone tells Joy that it’s “lami” or “perfect ang sweetness” and when they do repeat orders and become a “suki,” Joy is overjoyed.

I ordered four boxes last Friday. Inside was an assortment of colors and flavors: Banana, Choco-cheese, Banana Milo, and Coffee-choco. The verdict, in the words of my daughter Jana, “the muffins are moist, filling and tasty!” And the package came with a bonus: a Milo powdered drink sachet whose star model was none other than Ms. Joy Tabal. She autographed it with a note of thanks.

“My biggest dream,” she told me, “is to put up my own cafe. A place where I can display everything about my journey while you sip your coffee. You can roam around the shop and read my stories and the journey I’ve had while displaying my goodies. I want to start slow and learn along the way but I look forward to achieving that dream.”

Joy’s determination is evident in both the track oval and the kitchen oven.

“I promised myself that I will put the same hard work and passion (from running) to baking,” she said. “You have to love what you’re cooking or baking and put your heart into it. Papa once told me that the perfect recipe is the one made of pure love and joy.”

By John Pages

I've been a sports columnist since 1994. First, in The Freeman newspaper under "Tennis Is My Game." Then, starting in 2003, with Sun.Star Cebu under the name "Match Point." Happy reading!

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