Sarah Lahbati is a proud fan of her mom's cooking, particularly her cheesy and thick Swiss lasagna. It has been her comfort food for all time and here's why.

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Sarah told PEP.ph, "My mom has been cooking Swiss Lasagna ever since I was a kid. It's my all-time favorite dish by her. From the smell of the baked Gruyère cheese to the first bite of its soft and crispy edges, Mom's lasagna truly is a special meal."

And now, the actress wants other people to get a taste of the comfort it brings through Crave Simply, her online food business.

Family teamwork

In an e-mail interview on May 27, Sarah detailed to PEP.ph how this family business venture got started.

For starter, Sarah's mom has been spending her quarantine days at the home of Sarah, 26, and husband Richard Gutierrez, 36, in Alabang. And, naturally, Mom Esther has been cooking her specialties for the family, which includes Sarah and Richard's boysZion, 7, and Kai, 1.

Sarah continued, "I've been doing a lot of cooking in the kitchen during ECQ for my family. My mom is currently staying with us. She's a way better cook than me, by the way! She would bake our favorite Swiss lasagna and we would all get excited for dinner.

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"We all thought it would be a great idea for people to try my mom's famous dish as well as her other signature dishes like OG (Original) Biko, Cassava Cake, Potato Gratin, baked shrimp pasta, etc. We decided to launch our business last May 22."

The Kapamilya star further revealed that it was Mom Esther's long-held ambition to have her own food business.

Sarah and her brothers then made the most of the quarantine by fulfilling their dear mother's wish. The actress said, "My mom has always dreamt of having her own restaurant or food business because it's really been her passion to cook for other people.

"We decided now would be the best time to do so because we're all together at home and we can all help each other through this new journey."

From conceptualization up until the launch of Crave Simply on Instagram, the Lahbati family uses teamwork as the solid foundation of their startup.

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"All our dishes are personally cooked and prepared by my mom. I take care of the business and marketing side," Sarah said.

"My brothers have been very helpful with our business necessities. My eldest brother mostly does all the packaging stuff. It's really a family business."

A good problem to have

What new business sails smoothly at the start? Sarah has her share of woes to tell. She related, "Ever since our launch, it has obviously not been smooth sailing.

"There are constant growing pains which are normal for any start-up business.  Our current issues right now are orders. It's a good problem, but still a problem haha. We are receiving an insane amount of orders and we're doing our best to organize everything and cater to everyone.  

"The beauty of these challenges is growth and learning, as well as going through this with my family. We love learning from our errors and correcting them until perfect."

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Sarah highly recommends her mom's Swiss lasagna, which Esther makes using Gruyère cheese and halal beef.

It comes in sizes good for two to three persons (PHP1,000), five to seven people (PHP1,700), 10 to 15 people, (PHP2,500), and a large group of 15 to 20 pax (PHP3,500).

Another must-try n their menu is Esther's version of the local biko and cassava cake. Sarah guaranteed, "I would highly recommend our OG Biko! A customer recently reviewed it: 'The Biko from @cravesimply.ph is something that makes you think of all things good.

"'It makes me think of growing up in Ormoc, having it with coffee or just enjoying the breeze of the afternoon sun.'" 

The actress added, "I love that it brings out good memories in people. It's another delicious homemade dish that should be shared with loved ones."

Crave Simply's OG Biko comes in small (PHP400), medium (PHP850), large (PHP1,300), and extra-large (PHP3,000) sizes.

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Sarah continued, "I also love my mom's Cassava Cake. It's light, not too sweet, and perfect to have as a snack or dessert. I'd recommend having it with vanilla ice cream!"

"I hope everyone gets to try all our dishes soon and see for themselves how great of a chef my mom is, no bias," Sarah concluded.

To order, click here.

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