Business, Gene Gutierrez tells me, is done with the heart.
“Even before the golden age of Corporate Social Responsibility, my grandfather taught me well that one’s business would not exist without the people who benefit from it,” says Gutierrez. “There must always be a balance between the existence of your business and your presence in the community.”
A former overseas Filipino worker, Gutierrez had already held a lucrative position in Singapore as a packaging expert. However, during vacations spent in the Philippines, Gutierrez, born Generoso, tended to lifelong passion; as a side business, he sold Big Ben’s Gourmet Imus Longganisa in his native Cavite.
Cooking and sharing the gift of food has been a deep-seeded aspiration for Gutierrez.
“Cooking with my family made me realize that it is something that I want to do: cooking food for other people, especially the ones dear to me, special food for special people,” shares Gutierrez.
Shortly after, his grandfather’s influence would pay dividends. Having severed ties with the corporate world, Gutierrez turned his attention solely to selling longganisa.
“After I started trying to sell to my friends and family, with the demand increasing and growing to what it is today,” begins the restaurateur. “I eventually came up with this idea of starting a restaurant that will showcase the Imus Longganisa.”
The idea would bear fruit with the establishment of Big Ben’s Kitchen, a name in honor of his grandfather, Benjamin Gutierrez Sr.
Reflecting on his time as OFW, Gutierrez touches on broadened opportunities for promoting Filipino culinary heritage.
“Representing our culinary heritage in various Filipino-American expositions of culture and the arts in New York, New Jersey, Los Angeles, and Chicago in the form of Imus longganisa has always made me feel proud,” shares Gutierrez. “It opened a lot of opportunities for us to grow globally. It is a tall order for us to say and it may sound crazy until we actually do it.”
While never taking on the cudgels as flagbearer, Gutierrez continues to take pride of his roots and heritage.
“The most effort that I have made that was visibly Filipino was that I cook Filipino food for them and that’s it. Everything good follows. Nonetheless, I still am very proud of my roots, of being Filipino by blood, in spirit, and at heart.”
Currently, the products can be found in ECHO Store, Resorts World, and is served in Villa Escudero. It is also available in the Big Ben’s Kitchen in Imus, Cavite. Reach out to them on mobile at 09171784744 and through email at [email protected]