Beatrice Ughi and Eileen Formanes: Passion for Food Becomes a Profession

Beatrice and Eileen

Eileen Formanes and Beatrice Ughi – Photo by Lily Chin,

“[Food] comes from the heart, and I think that’s really important,” says Eileen Formanes, founder of Bibingka-esk, a company that makes cakes based on a traditional Filipino recipe.

“We cook together. We eat together. We pray together, so for us [food is] very personal,” Formanes, 40, tells Beatrice Ughi, founder and president of Gustiamo an importer and retailer of artisanal foods from Italy.

Both women left established corporate careers to follow their passion for food, despite the risks involved in launching a new food business.

“The challenges are enormous. We have struggled for the 14 years we are alive. It’s terribly hard work. We work all the time dealing with food,” Ughi, 62, says. “But yes I would certainly go through the difficulties, the sacrifices again. Certainly — over and over.”

Listen to Part 4 in this series Rawia Bishara and Ousila Rafai: Serving Up a Labor of Love

See what happens when you bring together women food entrepreneurs from different generations and different ethnic backgrounds to talk about food, business, and flavor.

Editors’ Note: This story was updated to include the correct spelling for Bibingka-esk.

Audio produced by Hannah Sheehan. Photos by Lily Chin.

Fi2W is supported by the David and Katherine Moore Family Foundation, the Ralph E. Odgen Foundation, and the Nicholas B. Ottaway Foundation.

AboutAnne Noyes Saini
Anne Noyes Saini, Food Editor, produces WNYC's The Sporkful food podcast and is co-creator of the MOTHER podcast. She covers food culture, immigration, women, and the elderly in New York City — especially in Queens, where she lives. She has contributed to NPR The Salt, The New York Times, The Christian Science Monitor, Narratively, Serious Eats, VICE, Feet in 2 Worlds, Real Cheap Eats and City Limits magazine.