Kate Tiffany Yu fires up her brand of business
By Deneb Batucan
KATE Tiffany Yu grew up in the world of business. Being part of a Filipino-Chinese family, this is where she learned all that she knows about running a business . Now that she’s starting up her own, she takes what she has learned from her parents and applies all these knowledge and skill sets as she builds her own brand of business.
Kate has partnered with Japanese gourmet chef Masaki Tsuji and set up Skillet Japanese Café and Bistro, which offers yoshoku, or Western-influenced food established in Japan. The uniqueness of the concept is what attracted Kate to pursuing Skillet as a business, where she is part owner and is in charge of marketing. “I saw something unique in the concept, and I wanted to discover and explore the restaurant business,” Kate said.
Kate wanted to serve something different to the Cebuanos. While Japanese food joints are popping up all over the metro, she wanted to offer a new way of experiencing Japanese food. So, Skillet was conceived as a place where Western dishes are fused with Japanese flavors and served in — you guessed it — a skillet.
“We don’t offer the usual tempura, sushi, ramen and yakitori menu most Japanese restaurants have. We are serving the high-end type of food choices that most local Japanese in Cebu love like French crab croquette, spaghetti Napolitan, to name a few,” Kate said.
Work and happiness
While Kate is a busy girl — she is also a distributor of automotive lubricants while doing marketing for their LPG family business—she finds joy in working, especially when she sees that her clients enjoy what she is doing for them.
“The most fulfilling part of running the restaurant is, of course, seeing it full. And seeing familiar faces and returnees, and seeing relatives and friends supporting you every step of the way,” she said.
Yet Kate admits that it does get difficult especially since they are bringing something new and exciting to the table. “It’s difficult to get people to eat dishes that are unfamiliar to them,” she said. But like any business person, Kate is always up to the challenge.
Anyone who knows Kate would say that she is shy and soft spoken, but Kate is more than that. She is a boss who believes that good relations with her staff is key to a good business. “We even give surprise parties for our staff on special occasions,” she said. “Our staff is the best. They’re attentive, polite and always smiling. I think they give plus points to the restaurant. Good and courteous staff do make a difference, right?”
While Kate is all business, she spends her downtime traveling to beautiful places in the world. She likes to read historical novels and then visit the places in the books that she reads. “I’d try to follow the footsteps of the characters in the places that I go to,” she said. “I love experiencing different cultures and learning the history of a country.”
She recently went to Turkey, Greece and Thailand and loved the rich cultures that she got immersed into. Kate also collects magnets from every place she visits. “They serve as memories of the places I’ve been to,” she said.
Even while traveling, Kate still has business in mind. “I look out for new businesses from other countries that might click in Cebu. I’m constantly looking for new ways to invest in,” she said.
As Kate ventures into her own businesses, she hopes to continue expanding and introducing more dishes, as well as creating more branches for Skillet. “I want people to know that Japanese food is not all about tempura and ramen. Japan also has fine-dining-worthy, unique dishes that one must try,” she said.
Kate is grateful for her parents for giving her a chance to go beyond her comfort zone and explore other ventures apart from their family business.
“There’s a painting in our restaurant that shows that no one can live alone. We need someone to wind us up to start, and I am thankful that I have such supportive parents to lean on. They taught me to never give up and to travel often so I can discover new, innovative things,” she said. “Every step I take is a learning process, but my parents have always taught me to work hard and love my job.”
Photos: Alfred Gregory E. Bartolome
Make-up Artist: Carlo Damolo
Hair Stylist: Jerwin Bastatas
Locale: Skillet Japanese Café and Bistro, Norkis Cyberpark, A.S. Fortuna, Banilad