Big Ben’s Kitchenette is famous for its very own version of “Adobo Style Longganisa” which came from the owner’s grandmother heirloom recipe enjoyed by a local Imuseños since 1950s. “Big Ben’s Gourmet Imus Longganisa” became a key driver for Imus Longganisa’s popularity, demand, and reputation as the healthiest longganisa. Through collective efforts to promote it on a national level, the Local Government Unit of Imus City, Cavite proclaimed “Big Ben’s Gourmet Imus Longganisa” as the One Town, One Product of the city.

Big Ben’s Kitchenette is owned by Mr. Generoso “Gene” Apostol Gutierrez, a Food Entrepreneur and a Registered Nurse who was once an Overseas Filipino Worker based in Singapore and a Junior Sales and Marketing Manager from 2012–2015. Unfortunately, he dubbed his 3-year working experience abroad as “exhausting”.

Year 2014-2015 was the turning point for Mr. Gene when he became a resource speaker of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) in Skills Training in “Extending Shelf Life without Preservatives”. Through this, he met different Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) who pushed him to do business. Another reason that encouraged him was his late grandfather Mr. Ben Gutierrez, who raised him and owned several businesses before. For those reasons, he decided to go back to the Philippines and continue his passion in food industry. He took over the business of his mother, Ms. Leilani Gutierrez, who was selling longganisa at Imus Public Market since 2000. The town’s culinary culture in preserving meat was influenced by Galleon Trade during Spanish colonization.

Mr. Gene established the Big Ben’s Kitchenette and registered it at DTI last June 2015. It was named after his late grandfather to pay tribute. The store is located at 385 General Yengco St., Medicion 1st D, Imus City, Cavite – a few minute drive from their City Hall and Cathedral, with store hours from 11AM to 10PM, Monday to Sunday, serving all day breakfast, lunch and dinner. They offer classic and nostalgic home prepared dished, using natural, organic and slow food cooking methods.

Like other businesses, everything started in a small beginning. With five thousand pesos (Php 5,000.00) capital, four (4) employees and production volume of five (5) kilograms per day, Mr. Gene opened Big Ben’s Kitchenette. At first, he struggled on manpower, finances, brand recognition, and product distribution, but through trainings, seminars, trade fairs and programs that he attended from various Philippine government agencies, he eventually overcame the challenges.

To scale up, Mr. Gene was assisted by DTI–Cavite. In 2015, he was invited at the 2nd Cavite MSMEs Business Conference. In 2016, he also participated at the “One Town One Project (OTOP) Program” which served as a major catalyst to increase brand recognition of his “Big Ben’s Gourmet Imus Longganisa”. It resulted to the increase of Imus public market longganisa sales up to three times. In February 2017, he also actively participated in trainings such as “Modern Trends in Food Industry” at Philippine Trade Training Center (PTTC).

In March 2017, the “Bottled Imus Longganisa” was recognized as one of the excellent food products of all regions in the Philippines that have been included in the “MSME Box” of Competitiveness Bureau.

Another program he’s very grateful to have participated in was the Kapatid Mentor Me (KMME) Batch 2, wherein he was awarded as the “Best Presenter”. It helped him to formulate a Business Improvement Plan.

Further, Mr. Gene started to join international trade fairs such as “Pistahan sa San Francisco 24th Anniversary” in California for two consecutive years, as well as local trade fairs such as “Kalakal CaLaBaRZon 2017” last October at Festival Mall, Alabang, wherein his Bottled Imus Gourmet Longganisa was nominated as the “Most Innovative Product”. He also attended “Propack Asia 2018” in Thailand. Moreover, his business was chosen to have a consultative meeting with Canadian Executive Service Organization (CESO) Volunteer Adviser Mr. Keith Kinninburg for export readiness. Currently, Big Ben’s Gourmet Imus Longganisa is registered at the United States Food and Drug Administration (USFDA), and has an on-going registration with Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) in the Philippines.

At present, the business has now one million pesos (Php 1,000,000.00) total assets, with a total of thirteen (13) employees including two (2) senior citizens and with production volume of thirty three (33) kilograms per day. The business also flourished and branched into three. First, is the “Big Ben’s Kitchen Restaurant” serving classic Filipino cuisine mixed with a modern twist. Second, is the “Artisanal Bottled Gourmet Products” such as Tapa, Tocino, Adobo, Longganisa and Sukang Sasa, which provides convenience to customers’ especially to those who do not have time to cook. Third is the “Naturally Processed Meats” such as such as the flagship Famous Imus Longganisa, tocino and tapa. The business also became a distributor to different companies including Resorts World Manila, Isidore Fresh Company in Parañaque, The Deli at Shaw. They’ve also been with SM Supermalls and has on-going offers with Puregold and Rustan’s Supermarket. Big Ben’s products is also available in high-end hotels, restaurants and specialty stores all over Cavite and has one (1) Pasalubong Center at Kawit, Cavite that will soon be upgraded into restaurant in 2019.

The business received positive feedbacks since 2015 in different platforms most especially their Facebook Page. They’ve been featured in local television shows such as Unang Hirit of GMA Network and My Puhunan of ABS CBN, celebrity blogs, different magazines and in newspapers such as Manila Bulletin.

As Mr. Gene quoted, “You need to know yourself, be realistic, don’t be pretentious, your business is your self-reflection” and that is Big Ben’s Kitchenette. “No gimmicks, just real good food”.♦

Date of Release: 18 November 2019

Ana Rose M. Laurenaria
NC Business Counsellor