So how did this all begin?
Crocqhenri Lucero - Founder (Mini Pinoy Grill)
Kickstarter - 2017
Creating Mini Pinoy Grill has been a journey over the last 3-4 years; however, the unmistakable Filipino flavour has been a part of my whole life. Being a big-boned Filipino kid, I grew up dreaming of one day becoming a chef. However, when I heard the story of my cousin having to crack thirty eggs as a kitchen hand, I was instantly turned off! Years later, my passion for cooking was rekindled as I began to develop my own Filipino-style marinade. I would prepare it for all sorts of occasions - parties, fiestas, you name it; if there was food, I made sure my marinade was there. People would always ask "what’s in it?", but my reply would always be the same – “It’s a secret!”
For years I had tried and tested, watching people’s immediate reactions of amazement first hand once they’d tried my marinated delicacies! Once perfected, it was these happy faces that made me say “Let’s do this!”
Birth of the Mini Pinoy Grill Trailer
In July, 2015 I approached a friend of mine (Kris ‘The Magic Man’ Cristobal). I had the idea of creating an amazing food truck, with all the bells and whistles. However, reality sank in when the enormity of the job and the costs involved became clear – I didn’t have the $90-$150k I’d need to start up, so I instead opted for the mini version. This was the beginning of Mini Pinoy Grill. I worked hard refining my design of this bite-sized food trailer, first sketching away with pad and pencil before eventually using some free design software online. (see gallery below)
I then began to design this completely self-sufficient foldout trailer; solar-powered refrigeration, fold-out BBQ, storage – everything!
I traded my pride and joy first car – a Layland Mini – for The Magic Man’s services. Kris would always keep me in check, reminding me that not everything is possible, but I kept going, pushing his limits and testing his ability. Finally, after working weekends and in between jobs, the amazing Mini Pinoy Grill Trailer was here.
My ultimate dream of the trailer being pulled by my 1963 Layland was quashed very early in the piece; however, the Rav 4 was more than a cool substitute.
After four months of planning and seven months of building, the Min Pinoy Grill was set for launch on February 13th, 2016. I decided to launch the day before my birthday, thinking I could kill two birds with one stone - I could celebrate the opening of my new venture and also another rotation around the sun. However, I’d overlooked the finer details. As I was set to perform at a wedding on the 12th February, to my surprise, the wedding was actually a five-hour drive away from Newcastle at a town called Coffs Harbour. I was gutted - there was no way I could cancel the wedding booking, and I had all the meat, food and drinks purchased for the launch.
"I'll Drive You Bro"
It’s times like these that you truly appreciate your amazing friends. Eddie, knowing of my dilemma, calls me and says, "I'll drive you bro"...and just like that, it was on! After my gig on the night of the 11th, I prepped all the meat, marinating until about 3am, just in time to hop into bed before my alarm went off at 4. Eddie’s already at my door before I’d even gotten out of bed, so I jump in the car and offer to drive, but after twenty minutes I couldn’t keep my eyes open; so I swapped seats and caught some zzzz’s while Eddie drove all the way. We got there, I sang at the wedding for six hours, we packed up and began our five hour journey back to Newcastle – me passed out in the passenger seat, jolting awake with horror at every bump we hit, and Eddie listening to Peanut Butter Jelly on repeat all the way home. Finally, we made it! It was 5am by the time we got to the markets to set up. And the rest is history!
So What Happened to the Trailer?
We continued to do markets, opened up once a week at 48 Watt Street, and also made an appearance at the Groovin’ the Moo music festival! However, after all the efforts it proved to be just too hard to keep up with the demands of having a food trailer, as well as being a full-time musician. It was from this realisation that I had the idea of bottling and selling the Mini Pinoy Grill All-Purpose Marinade. This would allow me to still share the amazing flavour of the Philippines, without comprising too heavily on my music career.
I had no idea where to begin, so I did what anybody else would do: I rang the television show “Recipe to Riches.” No luck. So then I took the next logical step, which was to call the head office of Woolworths. Once again, I hit a brick wall. Thirdly, I got in contact with the Australian Institute of Food Science and Technology, and Sarah from there got me in contact with a man named Steve, who got me in contact with a man named Dennis. And THIS is who I needed to talk to – Dennis is a food scientist. We met at Burwood RSL, we discussed it, he tried the marinade, and he got on board! A non-disclosure agreement and a recipe-breakdown later and we’re now in production!
So Where to Now?
This is where I need your help to spread the Filipino love and the Filipino flavour! By supporting my Kickstarter, we can start spreading the word. But Mini Pinoy Grill All Purpose Marinade doesn’t just help me; I want to support local, family businesses, and that’s why we’ll be starting out by exclusively stocking at local butchers, supermarkets and corner shops. We want people to go to their local businesses, buy the marinade and see what else our hard-working small businesses have to offer!
Let's get the flavour of the Philippines out into the world!!
P.S A huge thank you to Chill, Ness, Eddie, Solid, Ris and BJ for your amazing help! Also a big thanks to Jonathan for giving me a chance to open once a week at 48 Watt St. Also a huge thank you to Joshua Holiday for the amazing footage, Antojitos for allowing us to shoot on location. Jess and Nicole and the whole team at Wedding Designers, and also Meg Wilson for all your amazing help!
Risks and challenges
The good thing about supporting Mini Pinoy Grill All-Purpose Marinade is that all the hard yards have been done! The first batch is in production and will soon be ready to be shipped. I want this Kickstarter to help spread the Mini Pinoy Grill name.
If we get enough people tasting the unique Filipino flavour, this will – literally – kickstart the transition from dream into a sustainable reality. I’ll be able to then let people know where they can find more of the Mini Pinoy Grill All-Purpose Marinade, helping those businesses that wish to stock my product.
Post Kickstarter - 2018
Where are we now - 2019
2019 Wow! So after failing to reach our kickstarter goal, we decided to launch anyway. We full-filled the pledges that were requested. We then opened up a pop-up restaurant at Mayfield Bowling Club. Every Monday for 6 weeks; after a jam packed set of gigs every weekend. Chill and I, along with some help from my mum and dad would prep, setup, serve and clean every Monday and Tuesday night.
As of today we just reached our 2000 Bottle Goal and i couldn't be more excited for whats to come!
We have had over 13 Stockist, We are now available via Amazon FBA and soon you will be able to purchase directly from our own website! Thank you for everyone that has been along side me through amazingly crazy journey! Its only the beginning!
Join the movement! And help get the flavour of the Philippines to the world! Maraming Salamat!
CRocQ - Founder (Mini Pinoy Grill)