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An Interview with Mano Japitana

Intention, Passion, Love

Mano Japitana isn't a chef by definition; neither is he a business owner. One look at his instagram, however, makes you wonder what exactly is it that he does; it's packed with mouth-watering content like uniqely-shaped  sourdough breads and pizza that looks almost like it was fresh out of a fine dining Italian restaurant.

But Mano does not create content for money nor does he do it for any particular attention — he simply wants to display the fruits of something he loves to do. We decided to catch up with him to talk about the Ooni Karu, sourdough breads, pizzas, and just about anything he can heat up.

Ooni Pepperoni pizza

Credits: Mano Japitana's Instagram

Corporate to Kitchen Pursuits

"I started experimenting in the kitchen around 4 years ago. I have a corporate job in IT, and was tired of the daily commute from Antipolo to BGC. So instead of continuing to waste more time in traffic by going out on weekends, I decided to stay in and pick up a new hobby," shares Japitana. That hobby happened to be something he had always wanted to try — baking.

Credits: Mano Japitana's Instagram

"I still remember the first thing I ever baked: they were the most hideous cookies," he jokes. Despite nearly burning his first few cookies, Mano was amazed by simple ingredients transformed through heat. This piqued his curiosity even more, so from cookies, Mano decided to look for something more challenging. "So I started to experiment with yeast and bread.. and after a year or 2 I [moved on] to sourdough and pasta." As weekends passed, this weekend hobby turned into a weekly pursuit for challenging and interesting things to do in the kitchen.

"I fell in love with the process of making things from scratch... and I just never stopped."

Ooni Experiment

Like any other artist, Mano needed specific tools to continue to push the boundaries of his kitchen experiments. One problem he had to solve was finding an oven that was able to provide higher temperatures in order to properly experiment with different heat levels. Mano had been wanting to buy an Ooni oven for years because he noticed how people used them in different youtube videos. He fondly remembers trying to order the Ooni Karu the moment Oven Depot launched on Lazada. “I added the Ooni Karu to my cart,” he jokes. “The Ooni Karu caught my attention because as a hardcore fan of making things from scratch, the idea of chopping wood and lighting a fire to heat up the oven really appealed to me.”

Credits: Mano Japitana's Instagram

Being a meticulous baker, Mano knew that every single defining variable mattered in the outcome of anything you baked. “Tweak with one variable and you can end up with something entirely different,” he explains. “ Like the ratio of ingredients, hydration, fermentation duration, proofing time, and baking temperature. The Ooni allowed me to experiment with higher baking temperatures... it changes things up in the kitchen because it lets me breakt that temperature barrier and cook at incredible high heats.”

Creative Outlet

Inside the kitchen there are a variety of possibilities, anything can be made. Mano has managed to find a sense of calm in baking and being able to have time to pursue something he has an innate passion for, “the process of baking is a personal activity that helps me deal with anxiety, and I also [get to] share and nourish the family with what I create. I have learned the importance of self care while also caring for others.”

You can catch Mano’s masterpieces on IG: man0po

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