Coming from a family of Kapampangans who loved to cook, Jean Heart Q. Cadiente grew up watching her aunts and uncles prepare sweet and savory dishes. Eventually, she too began whipping up her own kitchen creations, and selling homemade cookies to her classmates.
“When I was a kid, I didn’t like watching cartoons,” says the self-taught Heart. “I watched cooking and baking shows.”
A degree in culinary arts was a likely next step for this budding baker and chef. But her family couldn’t afford the course (and her parents suggested she pursue studies for a “real” profession), so she took up nutrition and dietetics instead at the University of Santo Tomas.
This decision led her to a job that ticks all the boxes of a dream career. For close to two years, the 24-year-old registered nutritionist and dietician has been working as a junior researcher and chef demonstrator for The Maya Kitchen Culinary Arts Center. Besides developing recipes and co-authoring cookbooks like The Maya Kitchen’s Guilt-free Desserts, she also teaches short courses on cooking and baking to kids, teens, and adults—some with zero kitchen skills.
My Pope sits down with Heart to talk about using her passion to achieve purpose in life.
Why do you love cooking and baking?
It’s therapeutic for me. They say baking is a science and you have to be very focused and precise. I guess that’s what relaxes my mind, following a recipe and sometimes tweaking it to make something new. I also think I have a natural inclination for cooking and baking.
How did you come to work for The Maya Kitchen?
This is my first job and I found it while browsing through posts in an online nutrition group. I was really fortunate to have found it and that The Maya Kitchen took a chance on me when I applied. It felt surreal when they accepted me even though I had no formal culinary education.
BS Nutrition and Dietetics was not your first choice, but you managed to make the most of it.
Yes! I really enjoyed all my classes and all the knowledge that I gained from them. Now I teach guilt-free cooking and healthy meal preparations. Natutuwa ang mga students sa mga recipes and the outcome. They don’t feel like they’re on a diet!
Have you gotten feedback from the students you taught?
Yes! Students can get in touch with me through social media whenever they have any questions about what they learned in class. One student told me that when her father died, cooking became her therapy. Also, before he passed away, she was able to bake for him using the recipe she learned in class. Her message made me cry. It’s not every day that you can touch someone’s life.
What else would you like to do?
I want to study some more. Learning never ends, and I want to grow as a nutritionist and as a baker and cook. I also have plans to establish my own business (she specializes in bespoke cakes), and to contribute something to Carmona, like promoting nutrition programs.
What do you think is your purpose in life?
I want to promote healthier cooking and baking. I also want to touch more people, beyond the students in our courses. Cookbooks, like any other book, last a lifetime, and the recipes we put in The Maya Kitchen cookbooks can reach so many people and affect their lives.