Andrea Amado of Boulangerie 22 on How Failure and Reinvention Paved the Way for a New Start

Despite multiple closures due to the pandemic, Andrea Amado—President of the Amado Group of Companies—embraced these failures and used these lessons to start Boulangerie 22.

Business success stories are inspiring and all, but what about business closure narratives? Are they worth retelling at all? The answer is a resounding yes. Not only will it be informative in terms of knowing the whys of commercial defeat, but these stories will also shed light on the more important question—what next?

Tenacious Businesswoman—Andrea Amado considers competence, discipline, and passion as indispensable characteristics of a good CEO.

Pandemic Pandemonium

For Andrea Amado, the President of the Amado Group of Companies, the pandemic all but demolished the business empire she had painstakingly built in the last decade. Among the brands that she brought to the Philippines are Korean cosmetic labels Etude House and Tony Moly.

With her husband David, she opened Boulangerie 22, a bakery known for artisanal bread and pastries, which she grew from an initial three branches in 2016 to 19 outlets pre-pandemic. Then there was Yoree—a sprawling Korean barbecue restaurant located in Molito, Alabang with a branch in BGC, Taguig. In its heyday, it was even voted as one of the most favorite dining places in the South.

But out of the four brands, only Boulangerie 22 survived the crisis.

“Prior to the pandemic, we had to close all Etude House branches because the mother company decided to award the distribution contract to a conglomerate. Continuous rental charges, mall closures, and prolonged lockdowns resulted in the closure of the other businesses,” laments Andrea. “I felt helpless, angry, and frustrated.”

“The blows came one after the other,” she continues. “I tried to take a step forward but got pushed two steps back. Attempts to save the businesses and reopen with new promotions gave me a bit of hope. In the end, it was depressing to face multiple closures due to ever-changing IATF rulings and dwindling funds.”

A Delectable Pursuit: Boulangerie 22

It took some time for Andrea to regroup and plan her next step. Questions came to mind. What was she good at? What business can survive and thrive in a pandemic economy? Will she start an enterprise on her own or do it with partners?

The answer was crystal clear. “Cooking has always been a passion [of mine],” Andrea narrates. “I’ve always been hands-on in our food businesses so it won’t really be a stretch to consider going into it again—only this time, I wanted to teach aside from selling food.”

“Initially, I was part of an online Korean cooking school. Everything was pre-recorded. The ingredients and set-up for the shoot were all shouldered by the instructors. It was an investment I was willing to take on. The pandemic gave rise to home bakers and cooks. So there was a demand for online tutorials on basic and advanced baking and cooking. I saw that opportunity and took advantage of it,” she explains.

After the slump from those business closures, Andrea felt alive again whenever she would teach and interact with her students who were just as passionate about food as she was. However, as the months progressed and for various reasons, most instructors had difficulties dealing with the site owner. Collectively, they decided to move on and talked about starting their own cooking school.

The Proper Kitchen Alchemy

“If you’re trying to create a company, it’s like baking a cake. You have to have all the ingredients in the right proportion.”

Elon Musk

Getting the right teaching credentials was the first step to realizing the dream. Andrea applied for TESDA’s Trainer’s Methodology 1 (TM1) and got accepted as a scholar. By day, she managed Boulangerie 22 and raised her three kids, while at night, she attended her classes, which lasted until 9 PM.

With much perseverance, she finished the course and also successfully earned her certificate in Facilitate eLearning System (FeLs) so she could teach online. The learning continued, and soon after, she got her Certificate for Cookery NCII and Baking and Pastry NCII. Only then did she feel that she was properly equipped to start her very own school.

In 2021, Andrea Amado and two partners opened The Epicurean Academy of Culinary Arts (TEACA), which started out as an online culinary academy with lifestyle courses that were centered on thematic cuisines, as well as baking and pastry lessons. In the past year, it boasted over 3,000 enrollees, which prompted Andrea to offer certificate programs.

On December 2022, the partners opened the doors to their first physical school located in Almanza Square bldg., 490 Alabang, Zapote Road, Las Piñas.

Where culinary dreams are made—TEACA features modern, state-of-the-art facilities in its 4,000-square-foot institute. Students will experience on-hand learning at the multi-functional kitchen laboratory, a demo theatre with pullout desks, 2 multimedia lecture rooms, and a fully equipped private dining restaurant.

Of Future Plans and Wise Words of Advice

Come 2023, TEACA will be launching more diploma and advanced diploma programs. They are also in talks with TESDA and Disciples of Escoffier—a European-based organization—to further forge meaningful partnerships that will enable TEACA to enhance its standing as a leading culinary school in the country.

Having gone full circle, what is Andrea Amado’s advice to entrepreneurs?  

“You have to have a sound business plan,” she says simply. “Know your capital expenses, and pre-operational expenses and compute your [return on investment] ROI. Make sure you have enough funds to last you at least six months while you are setting up the business.”

“Nothing is guaranteed though, so it’s best to start small and test the market. Make your product stand out. Be consistent with quality. Word of mouth from satisfied customers is the best form of marketing,” she adds. “Take advantage of social media—It’s still the cheapest way to advertise. Hire people to do things you’re not good at and learn to delegate.”

“And if you can, find a good business partner to spread the risk and also to complement your talents.”

Private Dining—TEACA can accommodate up to 75 students at a given time in the dining hall. The place can also be booked for functions with dishes cooked ala minute by your very own private chef.