Finding purpose in organic food delivery

Chef Jose Mari Martin Buñag, also known as Chef Mikki, would volunteer in the kitchen as early as his first year of college. Since most of his classes at the time were general education courses, he went to help out in the butchery department of Restaurant 101, Enderun’s application restaurant, to learn more about the culinary arts. He also enjoyed competing and immersing himself in everything he could to hone his craft while earning his bachelor’s degree in International Hospitality Management with a specialization in Culinary Arts at Enderun Colleges.

His internships were at the world-renowned La Cabro d’Or and Oustau de Baumanière, both Michelin-starred fine dining restaurants in Provence, France. After that, he was fortunate to visit a few colleagues who worked in Benoit Bistro and meet the Master Chef of France, Philippe Bertineau, where he landed a job.

Chef Mikki later moved on to work as a Sous Chef at Il Buco Alimentari & Vineria in New York. “This could be one of the best places in New York to learn Italian cuisine,” he says.
After that, he worked on several large events as Executive Sous Chef at The Bowery Hotel alongside Sleepy Hollow Executive Chef Chef Carlo Bigi. He was promoted to be the Executive Chef at The Park, serving new American cuisine. He also worked as Sous Chef at Uncle Boons, a one-Michelin-star Thai restaurant known for serving the best Thai food in New York City. He worked at Thai Diner and Uncle Boons Sister as well.

Alab SF

Making a difference through food
Like many in the hospitality industry, everything changed for Chef Mikki in 2020 due to the pandemic. He rose above unemployment and found himself setting up his own business with a vision of making a difference in people’s lives through his cooking. Thus, Alab SF was born.

Alab SF is a subscription-based organic meal delivery service that serves family-style, nutritious, sustainable, and delicious meals in the East Bay, Marin, Peninsula, San Francisco, and South Bay in the US.

With his food business on the horizon, he took steps to improve his own overall health and well-being by cooking clean, natural, and organic food, switching to natural products and learning about the sources of every ingredient. He also made time for exercise and developed a supplement program for himself. It was an excellent way for him to care for himself during a difficult time.

“Several weeks passed, and I saw the changes in my body and mood. I was very active and developed a hobby. I lost a couple of pounds, became more focused, and have that positivity in everything I do. And when I saw that happening, I told myself that I should share this gift of change in me with other people through my craft: Food!”

Chef Mikki is a leader in his chosen industry as he became smarter with food choices and paid attention to health and nutrition. He understands the value of offering healthy and environmentally-friendly meal options and wants to impart this realization to his community — it enhances overall health and well-being, supports sustainable agriculture, and lessens the negative environmental effects of industrial farming.

Best chef he could be
“I had a big dream and was willing to put in a great work habit, develop skills, and have a student’s heart to learn.” When one of his high school teachers asked, ‘What would you like to do for the rest of your life?’ Chef Mikki Buñag remembered saying, “I wanted to better and impact other people’s lives through food.”

Looking back, Chef Mikki has always worked hard to be the best chef he could be. Working in the culinary industry allows him to get exposed to various cultures and cuisines, make a difference based on his values and beliefs, and enjoy meals where he can truly immerse himself in the culture of the country he is in.

“Chef Cyril Ermita, Enderun’s Pastry Chef Instructor, kept my attitude in check from time to time and, up until this day, remained a constant reminder of humility. Enderun’s culinary arts program helped me reach my current professional role by teaching the fundamentals of cooking and giving me access to its global network,” Chef Mikki explains.

Enderun’s global partnership with École Ducasse in France fosters the appetite and ambition to learn continuously, giving the chef’s profession more body, depth, and meaning beyond the kitchen. Enderun follows École Ducasse’s vision of becoming the world reference in culinary and pastry arts by capitalizing on the DNA and culture of excellence of Chef Alain Ducasse.

“Moving to San Francisco, helping communities, impacting lives through food and sustainability, and building my empire are among the many things I am so excited and proud of!”

This content was originally published here.

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