MSME Corner People and Ideas

The secret of success of Gourmet Secrets Catering Services

Dr. Michele Vatanagul, owner of Gourmet Secrets Catering Services | Contributed photo

What are the factors that drive success and profitability in these trying times?

Far from cut-throat ruthlessness of employers and bosses, successful businesses which continue to thrive amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) bank on fostering kind and caring leadership that greatly engages with employees.

This is what drives Gourmet Secrets Catering Services.

“I invest in my people and value their hard work and make them feel like they are part of a family,” said Dr. Michele Vatanagul, owner of Gourmet Secrets Catering Services.

More than a decade now, Gourmet Secrets has been providing the best affordable catering service to various events they have catered, especially to the Cebuano community, through supplying packed meals for Perpetual Soccor Hopital’s front-liners during the COVID-19 crisis.

Dr. Vatanagul, an internal medicine and aesthetics doctor, shared that values as an employer and her love food is what inspired her to create Gourmet Secrets during a phone interview with CDN Digital.


Gourmet Secrets was born from an initial plan of expanding a humble canteen that caters to students studying at a nearby review center and dormitory for medical students back in 2009.

Dr. Vatanagul, who owns the three businesses, convinced his long-time chief cook to expand at put-up a catering service to cater to the growing food market.

“We started as a canteen, but we received comments that our food tasted good, and I used to sell food before so we decided to expand it…,” said Dr. Vatanagul.

Since college, Vatanagul has already started selling her version of baked lasagna while continuously improving the taste to suit her and her customer’s palate.

And like all businesses, success does not come overnight.

According to Vatanagul, during their first year, they would only cater up to two events a month, while on some occasions they would only have one. But in their second year, more and more events started to contact them.

“We were overwhelmed with the number of bookings, but we were very happy,” she said.

“I was happy that over time, we grew. And so did my employees. Before we had 4 employees, now we have so many because of our hard work,” Vatanagul said.

Gourmet Secret’s Boodle Platter package no.2 that features a mix of grilled fish, pork and chicken barbecue, ngohiong, grilled porkbelly and rice good for a maximum of 10 people | Contributed photo


According to her, despite the busy schedules of being a doctor, she was able to manage her businesses very well and will always keep an eye on her employees’ well-being.

“I’m very hands-on, from the preparation of the food to dishwashing. And I always make them feel that their efforts are always appreciated.”

Even during this time, while sales are not at an all-time high, she would make it a point to provide allowances to those who were affected due to the lockdown restrictions.

For those who are working, she provides them personal protective equipment, alcohol, surgical masks, and oral betadine to keep them healthy.

Gourmet Secret’s Boodle Platter package no.2 that features a mix of grilled fish, Grilled fish, chrimp kebab, calamares, friend vegetable, lumpia and rice good for a maximum of 10 people | Contributed photo

Thoughtful gestures

“I guess we really grew not just because of our efforts to go digital in our marketing but because of our employees,” explained Vatanagul.

According to her, thoughtful gestures will go a long way, especially when expressing your gratitude towards your employees.

“It’s just simple gestures, and since I love to travel; international or local, I always have something for them when I get back,” she said.

“Employees who feel appreciated will work harder and enjoy their job more,” she added.

Ultimately, besides running a business, she also finds joy in seeing her employees improve their quality of life.

In retrospect, the world “service” might be a broad topic to cover, but for most people, especially for Vatanagul, it is during these times that service means more than giving back. /bmjo

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