Chari Heredia-Reyes brings tastes of home to the US

By Carla Bianca Ravanes-Higham

Just like most Filipinos, Chari Heredia-Reyes grew up surrounded by everything sweet “in a full household where fruitcakes and pastries were lined up by the hundreds during the Christmas season.”

The Ensaymada Project was born out of Reyes’ love for baking which had since grown into a business that brings comfort to Filipinos in America.

Coming from a family of eleven children, Chari took it upon herself to assist her mom’s seasonal undertaking of baking goodies and sending it to family during the festive season. This jumpstarted her passion for baking, one that she carried even when she pursued a career in Special Education after graduating Cum Laude from the University of the Philippines, then migrating to California to start a family with her husband, Chef Ramon. Despite an active teaching career and raising four children, Chari’s love for baking remained.

Inspired by her mother, Chari began recreating her childhood Christmas memories by creating food and desserts for her friends, this eventually led to the founding of her successful business, the Ensaymada Project.

“I’ve always enjoyed creating homemade meals and desserts to share not only during the Christmas season but for gatherings with friends and family as well,” she shared.

“I specifically chose to recreate my mom’s ensaymada from our childhood because there is just something nostalgic when it’s passed on from one generation to the next. It allows you to keep something relevant within your family that you can pass on to your children.”

Soon, friends and family began requesting to purchase Chari’s famous ensaymadas and what started as a hobby in her home kitchen turned into a successful venture that is now housed in a commercial kitchen. Filipinos from all over the United States now turn to Ensaymada Project to remind them of home and is now a favorite that captured the hearts of many. Today, Ensaymada Project ships fresh ensaymada all over the US.

The success can be attributed to Chari’s dedication to remaining true to the Filipino ensaymada we all grew up to love while offering new flavors. When asked where she gathers her inspiration and she says, “Inspiration is something that you can always take care of. You can always recreate yourself through these ensaymadas with many many flavors depending on the positive things that inspire you.

This specialty baker-cum-entrepreneur’s mother inspired her to recall her early childhood by exploring flavors.

“[One of the things that inspire me are] happy customers who enjoy each and every one of the 22 flavors — and counting — who take the time to reach out to let you know, that despite all the sleepless nights and hours of work, it is worth it.”

She then generously shares her advice to those who wish to start something of their own, “The simple advice is start off by creating something you love, something you are proud of. Everyone has the same perfectionist palate. Heighten the standards. You can’t go wrong with a product that pass your own personal high standards.”

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