Yaya Lola Is Putting Heart And Soul Back Into Food

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Katrina Guidotti-Stehmeier is keeping her beloved Yaya Rosie’s legacy alive with nutritious, kid-friendly meals cooked from the heart

We can’t deny the emotional connection between people and food. When we look back at our favorite childhood memories, we think of warm hugs, adventures and simple dishes that we’d ask for again and again. And now as adults, while we tend to look for more nuanced flavors, the comfort of a home cooked meal, prepared with lots of heart and thought, is still a meal we look forward to.

This, among many other reasons, is what inspired Katrina Guidotti Stehmeier to start Yaya Lola, a catering business dedicated to the original Yaya Lola herself, Katrina’s Yaya Rosie. Here’s her story…

Who is Yaya Lola?

In 1963, Rosie packed up her bags and moved from her hometown of Bohol, to Manila. She became a yaya to Katrina’s older sister, Malou, and eventually took care of all six Guidotti children. “She spent 57 years of her life with our family,” shares Katrina. “She had a special relationship with each one of us. She had a special bond with each of us, and we loved her just as much.” 

Throughout the years, it was Yaya Rosie who would wait at the door for Katrina and her siblings, staying up ‘til 4am because she couldn’t sleep without knowing they were home safe. “Every time she’d go on vacation, even just for two weeks, we would all cry — all of us siblings and her — and she’d say ‘sobrang mamimiss ko kayo.” explains Katrina.

When the Guidotti children went on to have their own families, Yaya Rosie loved them just as much, and became Yaya Lola to them. “Every time my girls enter my parents’ house, the first thing they’d do is visit Yaya Rosie in the kitchen and give her a big hug. Yaya Rosie loved them like her own too,” she says. Anyone who’d visit the Guidotti household could see how much the family loved Yaya Rosie, and how she felt the same way. 

Eventually, age caught up with Yaya Rosie and she fell sick with kidney disease. “I took care of her then,” Katrina says. “I would take her to all her doctor’s visits and hospitalizations and stay with her. I’d always tell her that it was our turn to take care of her.” 

Starting Yaya Lola 

As a Hotel, Restaurant and Institutional Management graduate, Katrina loved being in the kitchen. It also helped that she came from a family who liked to cook and eat. When Yaya Rosie’s kidney disease took a turn for the worst, she decided to start a business to keep Yaya Rosie’s spirits up.

“I told her we’d be partners and we’d start by serving her specialty dishes. It eventually evolved into our hidden veggie products, a combination of her scrumptious cooking and my passion for nutrition while providing easy but healthy food for my daughters,” Katrina explains. A picky eater herself, she credits Yaya Rosie’s love of food and persistence in feeding her different dishes as her inspiration to do more with food. 

The business allowed Yaya Rosie and her beloved alaga to spend more time together. They bonded while creating new dishes and trying out recipes, doing costing and sharing ideas with each other. When the business started to grow, so did Yaya Rosie’s positivity, especially when she’d hear about how much other people enjoyed their cooking. 

Yaya Rosie’s legacy 

Late last year, Yaya Rosie bid her final goodbye to Katrina and her siblings. Her passing crushed the Guidottis like no other. Katrina herself was especially affected. “In my whole life, I’ve never felt that way. She fought a good fight until the very end,” she shares. “She is my heart.” 

In the beginning, it was tough for Katrina to move on and get such a personal, meaningful business up and running without its namesake. She used her grief as motivation to keep on going, channeling whatever energy she had towards her business. Just like Yaya Rosie, she poured her heart and soul into every dish she cooked, keeping Yaya Rosie’s legacy alive. 

Today, Yaya Lola continues to thrive with Katrina and Yaya Rosie’s scrumptious, nutritious dishes. Their best sellers include chicken nuggets, meatballs, mac and cheese bites, gluten free chicken tocino, gluten-free pizza minis and pasta sauces. What makes them special? All the dishes have veggies hidden in them, perfect for the pickiest kiddos (and husbands).

Apart from nurturing her love of food and cooking, perhaps the most important lesson Katrina’s learned from Yaya Rosie is the value of unconditional love. Helping to raise other people’s children is an experience for a lifetime and it is never easy. The days are long and exhausting, but worth it when surrounded by people who love, recognize and appreciate one’s hard work.

There’s no doubt that the relationship between Katrina, Yaya Rosie and the Guidottis is truly filled with love, heart and soul. To experience it for yourself, order away from Yaya Lola: visit their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/yayalolacookingfromtheheart or Instagram https://www.instagram.com/yaya.lola/.

Chicken Wrapped Bacon by Yaya Lola

Ingredients:
2kg chicken legs
500gr bacon
⅛ cup knorr seasoning 
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper

Procedure:
1. Preheat oven 375 F
2. Clean the chicken and remove the fat.
3. Marinate with Knorr, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper
4. Wrap the bacon on the marinated chicken legs
5. Arrange wrapped chicken in a pyrex and bake for about an hour

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