In addition to being Corporate Chef, Regina wears many types of hats including innovator, communicator, sales development, coach, and role model.
“Every female on my side of the family is a strong career woman,” said Regina Mendoza, Chef at Nestlé Professional Philippines. Growing up, she was surrounded by inspiring role models, including her mother who is a pediatrician, an aunt who is an accountant, another aunt is a nurse, her grandmother was town mayor. As the youngest and only girl in her family of four, Regina was expected to follow in her mother’s footsteps of medicine. But after finishing her undergraduate studies in sciences, she sat down with a career counselor, which marked a life-altering turning point.
“The counselor said that my face lit up at the mention of food. Anything from cookbooks to recipes and cooking,” Regina recalls. “ said if food is what I love, I must pursue it. Ever since I remember, my brothers and I were always exposed to local and international food, and rich culinary family traditions.”
In 2002, Regina enrolled at the Center of Culinary Arts in Manila and graduated with the highest honor, adding ‘chef’ to her family’s impressive list of professions. Her culinary education continued to deepen as she completed short courses, both locally and abroad, to build her gastronomic repertoire.
She started her career as test kitchen specialist, developing recipes for local and international brands, before joining Nestlé in 2004 as a Consumer Food Specialist. Five years later, she joined Nestlé Professional in Sales and then landed her dream job as Corporate Chef in 2011, where she now leads a team of 18 chefs across the Philippines, of which 70% are male.
Day-to-day at Nestlé Professional
Every day is different as she and her team members are entrenched with innovation projects - busy testing prototypes, creating benchmark recipes, and conducting tests to optimize the recipes to ensure the best commercial application.
“We have to be sure that we are up to date with food trends and what is the current buzz in the food industry, she explains. It is always a creative challenge to work with customers and co-create new concepts and menus that fit their business goals and will inspire their consumers.” Her vast culinary experience has proven valuable as over the past few months, as Regina and her team have been busy supporting the out-of-home launches of Kit Kat Spread, plant-based food brand Harvest Gourmet and the relaunch of Carnation cooking milks.
Regina also heads the interactive Nestlé Professional Chef2Chef program that connects and collaborates with chefs; as well as managing recipe development; sharing her food knowledge with the sales team and presenting ideas to customers. “It’s a 24/7 job,” she explains. “I constantly communicate and coordinate with external chefs, Marketing, Sales and 3rd party agencies while creating test recipes for new products – on top of managing my busy family!
“This is a busy day, but I believe you should do what you love and love what you do,” Regina emphasized, “I encourage young people to follow their heart and trust their instinct for their careers.”
At the heart of her and her peers’ beliefs are the notion that we are all equal. She recalls the advice a male manager once told her. “He said, “You are the corporate chef and do not think of yourself as below other chefs, despite their celebrity status or popularity. You are an expert in your field, and you must see yourself as an equal. There are things that you know that they don’t.”
“I share this sentiment with my team – and my own three daughters. I believe in playing to your strengths because there will always be aspects where only you excel in,” she added.