Apart from her career in music and theater, comebacking singer-actress Rachel Alejandro is ready to boom this year with her food business.
The Sexy Chef, which she co-owns with her sister Barni Alejandro, has become a household name when it comes to healthy eating among Metro Manila folk, including a number of local celebrities.
Most notable among them is Regine Velasquez, who lost a lot of excess inches through a diet called Anti-Plateau.
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Anti-Plateau is currently making waves in local showbiz because of its unique anti-inflammatory properties.
This diet is said to be best taken by those who are after a target weight, and are struggling to lose those "last few pounds."
Rachel tells PEP.ph (Philippine Entertainment Portal) in a recent interview, “Right now, ang uso is iyong Anti-Plateau, which is what Regine Velasquez did.
"Kasi, kung noong araw, e, ang kalaban natin ay kanin or carbs, this time around ang kalaban natin ay preservatives at wheat.
"So ngayon, it's no wheat. In other words, no bread, mga ganyan-ganyan, no preservatives.
"Everything's all natural. Iyon ngayon ang trend in the diet."
SUCCESSFUL BUSINESS. Rachel takes pride in the thought that her business is thriving because of their constant hunger to innovate.
"For Sexy Chef, nandoon na kami sa point na tuwing mayroong usong diet program, basta may demand, we try to interpret it, kung ano yung bagong uso.
"Sumasakay kami sa kung ano iyong bagong technology, kung ano yung bagong know-how pagdating sa diet.
"So, we'll continue doing that. We're working with the best people.
"We work with Nadine Tengco, we're partnered with Sexy Solutions right now... marami.
"Ang dami naming mga partners, actually, na basta pagdating sa diet, you know, parang we're the 'Go to' place na.
"But of course, there's still much more to achieve," she says.
DISCOVERY ALONG THE WAY. The Sexy Chef has certainly come a long way from its humble beginnings at the Alejandro home.
Many wonder how such slender, obviously fit people like Rachel and her sister Barni, could come up with the idea of a business that offers weight-loss diets.
Were they ever obese back in the day?
"I never grew really big," Rachel answered.
"I think I have the genes of, like, my dad. Talagang always petite, and my lola is also on the petite side.
"Pero sa mother side, may mga obese din kami na mga tita. Pero nasuwertehan namin ni Barni."
In the past, said Rachel, "Barni only gained 26 pounds [during pregnancy].
"Ngayon, she's ready to give birth and it's all baby. Wala siya masyadong kailangan i-lose [na weight].
"Kasi talagang binantayan ko, hindi puwedeng Jumessica Simpson! Kasi, di ba, si Jessica Simpson lumobo?" said Rachel, referring to the American singer's weight-loss battle surrounding her pregnancy in 2012.
Rachel looked back at the beginning of their business, how it really began and came together.
"Si Barni, there was a point na tumaba siya when she was in college.
"Kasi alam mo na, iyong mga food na available, all of a sudden... kasi from living with me, nagsarili siya, and lahat na puro mga junk food, mga instant food.
"And she was getting sick kasi lahat na ng kinakain niya hindi na fresh, di ba, mga canned goods.
"So, she was getting sick left and right, so that's how it started.
"She went to the doctor, and the doctor said, 'You have to change your diet. That's really bad,' which is why I started, like, buying cookbooks for her.
"Iyon, [we discovered] ang sarap pala niya magluto!
"Lalo na sa healthy [food], parang naging forte niya. Iyon, naging business."
CONTINUOUS GROWTH. From their small kitchen, which they shared with their mom's catering business called Chef Mom's Delight, Rachel and Barni are now considering to expand their business to serve more customers.
"Sa Sexy Chef kasi ang dami pang puwedeng mangyari, e.
"I would love to have some kind of TV show, maybe. Parang healthy cooking show, lifestyle, like that sort of thing."
Rachel did not divulge more concrete plans for now, but she says that they are very optimistic about the future of their business.
"Healthy eating is always a challenge for everyone who's busy.
"Karamihan ng clients naman namin are busy professionals na, you know, they don't want the hassle na of having to shop or have to prepare, weigh, anu-ano mo pa.
"So, you know, we like to provide parang the convenient solution for people who don't have time to prepare their own meal, healthy meal."
For now, The Sexy Chef is offering 12 diet programs that cater to different types of customers with different needs.
“The reason also that we have 12 different programs is because we understand that people have different preferences, and may mga tao na will react to the diet better kung mas natural sa kanila iyong kinakain nila.
"I mean, food that they would normally eat, rather than something that's so alien.
"If you try something that's closer to the way you normally eat, with more moderation, mas magwo-work.
"And that's what we try to achieve with the different diet programs that we have."
Among these programs are the Cohen diet, Back to Balance, Eat Clean Detox Plan, Fat Burn, Bridal Packages, Anti-Plateau, Body After Baby for new moms, Health For Two for pregnant women, HCG or Human Chorionic Gonadotropin, Sugar Buster, Pounds Away, and the South Beach diet, which is still the most popular among celebrities.
Rachel adds, "We also hired a nutritionist na din. For the longest time kasi wala.
"Pero now that we have, at least people can already consult na, 'O, heto iyong health problems ko. Ano ako, diabetic; ano ako, hypertensive, ganyan-ganyan. Ano iyong diet na pupuwede sa akin? Ito guidelines, ito iyong binigay ng doctor ko, ano pupuwede?' Iyon.
"It's important to have that and to keep growing and improving the business. Lagi namang may room for improvement. "