Chili Chili Bang Bang Run by Honors Graduate Who Left Corporate Life to Sell Homemade Chili Con CarneApril 27, 2017
Like many fresh grads, Alf Yaptinchay found himself working in corporate immediately after college. While some thrive in the environment, Yaptinchay could not get used to the work-lunches, the take-home workload, and the weekends that were filled up with even more work. It was not a lifestyle that he found fulfillment or joy in. So when his aunt Minena Garcia, a self-trained home cook, told him that her friends were constantly asking her to send them her homemade chili con carne, which she adds corn to for a touch of Filipino-tastebud-suited sweetness, a lightbulb clicked in Yaptinchay’s head.
Chili Chili Bang Bang, named after the 1968 British adventure film for children co-written by famed children’s author Roald Dahl and director Ken Hughes (based loosely on a book by 007 writer Ian Fleming), was born. They started out like many home-based food businesses do: Christmas bazaars and markets. In December 2013 they were off to their start with selling the original recipe. The demand grew for spicier chili so they created Bite the Bullet (our personal favorite for its balance in flavor), and with customer demand for spicier still, they created The Big Bang, both of which are not sweetened with corn. They also created the seasonal Hawaiian flavor (with pineapple and bell pepper; only sold during the holiday season), and the vegetarian, which was developed by his cousin who was a partner for a brief time before she decided to pursue her culinary studies.
The thing about chili con carne that we’ve learned is that it’s better to make a big batch. For some reason, it tastes better when you make a big batch.”
Yaptinchay told us that having his own business was always his end goal. “I’d rather own my time, and at the same time, grow my business in the way that I’d like, and not be constrained by all these other things. But I would still suggest to go corporate first! It’s very different. It’s nothing like school . . . You learn so much more in a work [setting] than in school.” He tells us that one of the most valuable lessons and habits he picked up in corporate was learning to organize and have a paper trail for everything. “It’s not something you just pick it from school. You have to figure out why you need it, and when you [find out why], you’re going to stick to it. It’s those things, those small SOPs that you have to follow. At least in a [corporate] setting you can learn it with all the trial and error. You get all the learnings without the pain.”
His aunt continues to make the chili con carne, of which they have 4 flavors: the original, bite the bullet, the big bang, and the veggie recipe; whilst Yaptinchay makes the quezo and japaleño quezo. “Even that set up took a while. There are always differences in opinion, but it’s part of the process of refining everything, which you’re not going to pick up immediately. Nothing starts off perfect.”
The best part about these homemade chili con carne is that they last up to one year when stored properly (unopened; once opened, stick it in the fridge), so you can get that homemade taste at your convenience. Yaptinchay says once you remove the cap, you can pop it in the microwave and have your meal ready in a minute. Some of their customers do like to get creative, pouring it over pasta and even adding cream, or eating it “Pinoy-breakfast style” over rice with a fried egg on top. But for him, there’s few ways better than getting together with friends and popping it open to munch on for an at-home movie.
It’s hard [running your own business]. In corporate, you only have one job. Your one job is broken up into many different things, but basically you’re this portion of the business. When you’re in your own business, you’re everything . . . it’s all on your shoulders. When you don’t have the luxury of saying, ‘Oh, it’s this guy. He didn’t do his job.’ No. It’s all you. If something goes wrong, it’s still you. So you learn to be a lot more responsible in more ways than you used to be in corporate.” As for advise for budding entrepreneurs? “Find a way to do everything right, and find a way to do it consistently.”
Chili Chili Bang Bang
Chili Chili Bang Bang sells homemade chili con carne in 5 variations, and 2 varieties of cheese dip.