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Liezl Mercado: Cooking from the heart

31 March 2016


By Jo Campos

Every cook worth his (or her) salt knows that a dish that comes from the heart is always the best bet to impress the discerning taste buds.
This is what guides Liezl Mercado, a family driver who also spends a lot of time in the kitchen, as cooking has been her lifelong passion.
Her preoccupation with food started at an early age, way back when she was growing up in Davao City.
Liezl recalls: “Namalayan ko na nag start ako sa kusina at a young age.. siguro Grade 3, mahilig ako makialam sa paghihiwa ng mga lulutuin lalo na pag may handaan at fiesta. Pumapatong pa ako sa silya para maabot ko ang kalan at tumutulong sa paghahalo ng pagkaing niluluto.”
Not surprising, as Liezl comes from a family of restaurateurs. Her family is known as one of the pioneers in the tuna ihaw-ihaw business in Manila back in the ‘80s, and a half brother owns the Jack’s Ridge restaurant in Davao City.
Other half siblings ran a restaurant called Apo Duwaling in Manila, where she worked while studying in college. She also worked parttime for Tuna Grill on Tomas Morato in Quezon City.
But her connection with food doesn’t end with having a family of foodies. She is currently working for a family of cooks as well. Her male boss is a chef, and his wife is a food blogger.
She not only performs driving duties for her employers, she also gets the chance to hone her passion in cooking. This bit of multi-tasking does not faze Liezl as she has been doing it in the 16 years that she has worked for different households.
It is the same zeal for doing something different that prompted Liezl to take up driving lessons. She passed the tests and got her driving license in 2012, but it took her another two years and a change of employers before she was able to get behind the wheel as part of her household duties.
She gets to mingle with fellow family drivers on a regular basis as she is the secretary of Road HK, an organization of Filipino lady drivers.
Even with her cooking, Liezl always tries to do something different. While she prefers  cooking savoury dishes, she also dabbles in baking, and is always challenging herself to come up with new dishes and cooking ideas.
One of such challenges will come this June, when she joins a cooking competition  organized by the Philippine Consulate General. True to form, Liezl says she is excited to take on the challenge.
Her future plans also revolve around food and cooking. She says her greatest dream is to set up a food-related business in the future. Maybe not another restaurant, but a venture that will give vent to the cooking passion that runs in her blood.

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