“Baking is a passion.
You don’t bake to jump on the bandwagon. You bake because you love baking. And every time you bake, you create something that you can be proud of — that when people take a bite, they would feel your passion. Also, you don’t bake out of a cookbook. You create something that represents you.”
Growing up, Nelser had no exposure to baking as no one in her family knew how to bake. She just happened to stumble upon an old cookbook when she was in fourth grade and, on impulse and out of curiosity, she copied a recipe straight from that cookbook, invaded her mother’s kitchen, and proceeded to bake. Her first attempt at baking was a resounding success. Her family loved her spritz cookies.
With her parents’ support, she gained the confidence to dabble in baking other sweet goodies. The cookies soon became macaroons and, later on, brownies.
But, despite Nelser’s apparent passion and talent for baking, that parental support did not extend to allowing her to enroll in a culinary school or to pursue a degree in baking and pastry arts. Her parents wanted her to follow in the footsteps of her father who, at that time, was a lawyer. So, Nelser took a pre-law course in the University of the Philippines.
When she got married fourteen years ago and had kids soon after, she became preoccupied with nurturing her young family.
NELSER AS A PASTRY CHEF
It was only when her two boys got a little older that she found the time to revisit her beloved hobby. Initially, she would only bake for family, relatives and close friends. But as her reputation as an exemplary pastry chef circulated far and wide —and as more people requested to get a treat of her phenomenal generosity and a free taste of her sumptuous dessert offerings–, she eventually decided to make a business out of her hobby.
Her first “paying” customer was Ambassador Preciosa Soliven who ordered boxes of food for the gods which the kind ambassador gave as token to a royalty in the Middle East. In exchange, she gave Nelser walnuts and dates.
Today, armed with years of baking experience, Nelser already has a wide and impressive array of baked products that her loyal patrons and new customers can choose from. Although she only bakes on a per-order basis, she makes sure that the packaging of her products –everything comes in attractive boxes, tin cans, bottles, mugs, or plastic containers—is elegant, and her pricing competitive enough, to send the clear message that they are not the work of a mediocre baker, but of a pastry chef par excellence.
Her sweet concoctions used to bear the name “The Bakeshop by nelser”, but her business started to thrive only after she became actively involved in her parish church. So to honor the sole source of that blessing, she decided to change the name to “Bits of Heaven”. However, the name can also be easily construed to mean that a bite of any of Nelser’s treats is like having a taste of a bit of heaven.
Here are some of her to-die-for sweet treats. Be ready to drool!
NELSER AS A MOTHER HEN
Baking might be something that Nelser immensely enjoys doing (and it is proving to be a lucrative and reliable source of income to boot), but she has never allowed it to mess with her priorities.
As a consummate homemaker, she considers her family her utmost priority. She ensures that their house is a beautiful, spotlessly clean and welcoming haven that her husband and sons would always want to go home to after a particularly long and exhausting day. Her kitchen is constantly filled with the tantalizing aromas of all the food she is weaving her magic on for her family. And their dining table? It always looks as if Nelser is presenting her gastronomic feast for Chef Gordon Ramsay’s scrutiny! She could even turn the simplest culinary spread into a visual extravaganza, an ordinary meal into an extraordinary Instragram-worthy moment, and seemingly unpleasant leftovers into delectable dishes through her impeccable food presentation. (It’s actually one of the valuable lessons she learned from her mother — that it’s not so much the food one serves, but the way it is presented, that makes a big difference.)
Aside from being a kitchen magician, Nelser is also a devoted and dutiful wife to her husband, and a nurturing and protective mother to their two boys, Cole and Chesco. She is her sons’ personal driver, strict tutor, and constant date.
Nelser is also quite well-known among her boys’ teachers, classmates and co-parents because of the yummy, varied, well-thought-of and nicely presented lunch and snacks that she packs for Cole and Chesco each school day.
NELSER AS A SERVANT OF GOD
Believing that the best way to show one’s gratitude for all the blessings one receives is by serving the Lord with a joyful heart, Nelser is an active parishioner of the Our Lady of Sorrows parish. She is a member of Leccom and of the Parish Pastoral Council, and an officer of the Apostolado ng Panalangin. Also, despite her husband’s erratic and hectic schedule (Dax is a doctor), she makes sure that they fulfill their Christian duty of hearing mass at least once a week as a family. Cole and Chesco, both prepared for Christian service at a young age, are members of the Knights of the Blessed Sacrament of the same parish.
Another way of showing her gratitude is by living a life of charity. The recipient of the family’s philanthropy is the Casa Miani, an orphanage in Lubao operated by Somascan priests. Doc Dax provides his medical services for the children there, free of charge.
Additionally, there are two “parking boys” from their parish that Nelser helped send to school.
NELSER AS AN ALL-AROUND GIRL NEXT DOOR
As if her life is not busy enough, Nelser still finds the time to do tutorial service. She has three students she diligently tutors every afternoon. And the ever-dependable Nelser is the usual go-to person when any one of her relatives, friends, colleagues or co-parents needs an extra hand. She might be a little loud (She is, after all, Kapampangan!) and may whine from time to time, but people can count on her to get the job done. Always.
Oh, by the way, have I mentioned that Nelser has no house help? Yup, she is your Wonder Wo-mom in the flesh!
NELSER ON DE-STRESSING
Even superheroes get tired and worn-out. They need occasional breaks from the hassle and bustle of the daily grind. They require time to recharge to restore their sagging spirits, spent strength, and depleted energy before they could don their capes once again.
So, how does Super Nelser go about this?
She allows her residual artistic juices to flow freely by sketching, by coloring and by honing her talent in calligraphy. She also enjoys decorating and re-decorating their home, and looking at her vast collection of Starbucks coffee mugs. Meeting friends and taking trips with her family don’t fail to provide welcome respite, too. And never underestimate the power of social media! Nelser is fond of taking pictures of almost anything that catches her fancy and sharing these with her social media friends. The likes and online conversations they manage to elicit are enough to put a smile to this supermom’s face.
With all the things that she has so far accomplished and everything that she is capable of doing singlehandedly –considering the limited time and energy that we, lesser mortals, are usually restricted by–, one would be inclined to think that Nelser is already content with her lot. After all, she’s one girl that’s very easy to please. Seeing people’s happy faces when eating the food she serves, receiving messages of gratitude and compliment from satisfied customers, knowing that her kids refuse to eat other cakes and cookies because “they are not as good as hers”, and watching her family finish everything on the table in one sitting with lots of ooohs and aaahs — all these have the power to take her to Cloud 9 in an instant.
But, no, Nelser has no plans of hanging her cape anytime yet. She still has one dream that she is now furiously working on. She wants to have her very own quaint country coffee shop soon.
And all of us who are familiar with her inherent determination know for certain that that dream would become a reality. Sooner than later.