Erwan Heussaff wants you to know – he’s not a chef…
When the food-blogger-turned-restauranteur arrived at the studio, heads turned and snapped back in whispers, but he didn’t seem to notice. That’s part of Erwan’s charm: he’s down-to-earth and generally oblivious to how people see him. “Di ko na-expect na ang guapo niya,” a (very manly) crew member admits.
We begin filming. The first shot is Erwan greeting Megan before sitting down to talk. Cut! Only one beso, please, Erwan. “I’m French” he deadpans with a shrug, before cracking into a smile. The camera continues rolling. Erwan is one of those people who talks with his hands, the gestures intensifying when he talks about food. During a lull between shots, he chats up the director with some tips on brewing vodka – “not indoors – risk of blindness.”
Erwan is known for many things but what defines the 29-year old is his passion for food. But passion isn’t all he has; the wunderkind cut his teeth working in food across Siberia, Thailand, and a smatter of places in between. Over the past few years, Erwan has managed to transform his passion into a mini-empire – he co-owns a handful of hotspots across the Metro as a Managing Partner of the Mothership group.
When we finally got him on the interview chair, we met a tech-savvy entrepreneur whose passion for his businesses is matched only by his work ethic.
E: You know, I use Security Bank for my business and all my personal online transactions – for my blog payments and everything related to that. So I’m a customer and I’ve used the platform. I like that it’s simpler [than other banks] and I’m a fan of simple stuff. It was very easy for me to decide to represent Security Bank because I’ve actually had a relationship with them as well as that good experience with their products and services.
E:The Philippines has a very competitive restaurant scene so I knew immediately that opening my first restaurant would be a challenge. At first, the challenge was sorting out my financials and trying to get the amount of cash I needed. Then it was managing the cash flow and seeing how much you actually need to run operations smoothly before you can start seeing money come in. So I guess that was the main challenge—kinda understanding that when you do it (the business) alone, it will be very tough.
E:It’s different in a sense that it’s not as expensive to put something up, so everyone does it. It’s more competitive both in terms of price points and who you’re really targeting. If you have a restaurant that only targets the 1% then everyone else is fighting for that 1%, which is really tough. The purchasing power in the Philippines is generally lower as well, so you’re trying to get international quality style food but at a lower price point, knowing that most of the ingredients are imported.
E: For someone who is taking up loans or looking to set cash towards investments, it’s very important to have a platform that takes care of my financials. I found that with Security Bank. I think it’s also important to kind of be guided and really taken in hand and given sound advice when it comes to managing cash in general. It’s also very handy that they give me a 6-month to a year snapshot of what’s gonna happen from a political and economic standpoint in the Philippines. I think that, in a country such as ours, it’s really important to have that outlook—information that is not necessarily available to everyone. If you have a good bank and a good person on the other side that you can actually talk to, managing a business gets much much easier.
“To have a platform like BusinessPlus kind of just simplifies everything… It gives you more visibility and transparency and that is very comforting for a blogger turned businessman like me.”
E: Running a restaurant business, sometimes I sign checks for 10 pesos, sometimes I sign checks for millions. The amount of detail that goes into it is pretty tough. And when you imagine that from a cash perspective, it gets even tougher. The ins and outs of cash are really important and BusinessPlus does that for me, plain and simple. You have creditors and suppliers and all that but then you’re also paying cash for some other things including your staff in your payroll. There’s really a lot of logistics that goes into it.