Chef, culinary educator, success coach and mum, Michelin Dapo is no stranger to hard work and juggling lots of roles.
Today, Michelin is a Success Coach for business and hospitality students at Torrens University Australia as well as a successful food entrepreneur.
As a Success Coach, Michelin helps students define and then find success in their professional lives. How exactly does Michelin define her own idea of success, and what advice does she commonly offer to students about how to achieve it?
“I love that I am able to give my students advice not only about working in the kitchen but also about running a business, pursuing their passion and career.
My work as a Success Coach covers a lot of areas. Aside from helping students achieve their career goals, it's also about motivating them with their commitment to their studies and ensuring that they are on the right track towards becoming employable in the future. I also want to make sure they can apply what they learn at university.
The most important advice I give to students is, “Don’t rush things. Make sure that the goals you set are reasonable and achievable.
Lastly, do not make drastic decisions when your emotions are hyped up or when you are too emotional. This can lead to poor decision making in the long-run. Always be strategic.
Her journey to food entrepreneur isn’t unexpected.
“For the first 13 years of my life, I grew up in Manila, Philippines with my grandparents whilst my parents worked. At an early age, I was exposed to their kitchen environment and its many flavours. I started to create dishes for my family, and it gave me a sense of achievement to know how much they enjoyed the food I prepared for them. This led me to my career as a chef,” explained Michelin.
Fresh out of culinary schools De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde in Manila Philippines, and then Le Cordon Bleu in Sydney,, she launched into a formative role as pastry chef for the Asian Games in Qatar.
Later, she was offered a position as the Offshore Director of Studies for TAFE Institute in Manila, a teaching role that led down a path of education. Moving to education was not a difficult career move to make.
“I always want to do both cooking and teaching. Back in the Philippines I joined outreach programs and soup kitchens. I also enjoyed teaching the youth how to prepare and cook food for the village community. It makes my heart full to see them enjoy the process of learning to cook and creating a dish.
Then, here I enjoyed training aspiring chefs when I was working in the industry. It was fulfilling to see them grow and improve in the kitchen.”
Lately, Michelin has had another title to add to her list: co-founder and owner of a booming boutique Filipino ice cream brand, Manila St., alongside her husband and chef, Chester Dapo.
Ever since a stint working at an Italian restaurant in the Philippines, Michelin has had a passion for making gelato. Her husband also had some experience with gelato from his culinary career in the United States.
Last year, the industrious couple came up with a creative idea to bring some of the beloved Filipino flavours they grew up with to Sydney.
They started their own boutique ice cream brand Manila St. during lockdown, beginning with just twenty tubs of homemade products. Their recipes bring together ingredients from the Philippines, Australia and New Zealand, to make unique, premium ice cream flavours like purple yam and milk cheese.
“When my husband and I started Manila St., it was during the peak of Covid-19 pandemic last year. I was also doing my postgraduate studies, working full-time, and we have a toddler.
It was quite overwhelming at first, but we had to be strategic, rather than looking at the bad side of things or what is stressful. We focused on the possible outcome of what we could achieve if we push through with the business whilst in lockdown.”
Supported by the Sydney Filipino community, and later with exclusive supply contracts for cafes and restaurants the brand has taken off. Despite setting up a hospitality business during the pandemic, they are now making over 500 tubs per day.
So, what are the secrets of their success?
“Time management is important to be able to juggle working full-time, a business and mommy duties. Next is resilience. It can be tough at times, but we need to face it head on. We need to work smart and not work too hard.
In saying this, we also took advantage of the supply and demand opportunity of Filipino Ice cream in the market. There was a delay of shipment and cargo around the world. No ice cream supply from the Philippines to Australia at some point.
We used that moment to leverage and introduce our ice cream brand in the market, especially in Asian grocers. It’s locally made with ingredients coming from the Philippines and dairy coming from Australia and New Zealand.”
Being a couple business partnership has also allowed them to share some of the burden of juggling family, business and other work.
“My husband is there most of the time during the week to look after Manila St., while I work as a Success Coach. I look after distribution and the business-to-business relationships. That’s where I come in, and most of the work I do for Manila St. is during the weekend.
My own definition of success depends on the environment I am in.
At the university, I define success as seeing my students achieve their career goals or become employable when they graduate and pursue their dream job.
At home, as a mum and a wife, success is when I see my family healthy and well. At my business, it’s when I see it grow, evolve, and adapt and be well received in the market.
Success can be defined in many ways but overall, I’d say success is making a difference with the people around you by helping them achieve their aspirations as well.”
Does she have any mantras, rules, strategies, or approach to your work that have helped her to find success?
“Always stay positive, be resilient and most of all be kind to everyone.”
Michelin has come a long way, geographically and in terms of her life journey so far, and she has achieved so much. What’s next for her future, and the future of her family?
“Continue to inspire and support future hoteliers, chefs, and business students.
More ice cream flavours to come at Manila St. focusing on Asian street food desserts, and we will soon be distributing across Australia and overseas hopefully.”
Studying with us means you’ll have access to our Success Coaches to help you achieve your goals. For more information on Torrens University Success Coaches, please visit https://www.torrens.edu.au/studying-with-us/student-services-support/success-coaches.