The Cure: Mango Wood Gives a Homegrown Bacon Startup its FlavorDecember 15, 2016
Smoking bacon with mango wood—taken from a mango tree at a relative’s property in Bacoor, Cavite—came about by pure chance. “They were building something in the area and had to take [the tree] down. We might as well try it,” says co-owner Migs Mendoza. After having the wood cut and dried, they dove in with their virgin experiment, one that eventually turned into The Cure.
Mango wood serves as the source of flavor for The Cure’s line of bacon. “It’s subtle and slightly sweet, and it complements the bacon really well,” shares Migs. Pork belly, cured for seven days with a blend of salt, pepper, and brown sugar, is smoked low and slow for four to five hours. There are no shortcuts to be taken; no railroading with liquid smoke.
But these nuances weren’t always something they looked at with such serious conviction—things were pretty laidback at the start. The company began as a casual debate among five longtime friends—Migs, along with Chad Aquino, Anthony Sayuno, Luigi Yaptinchay, and Anton Montaño—on which local brands made superior bacon. “It came about through arguing! Me and him, we argue a lot,” shares Migs pointing at Anthony. “No man, this brand is better! Di, mas masarap yung ganon!”
Of course they’d have strong opinions—the team worshipped bacon growing up. “I could finish an entire pack!,” shares Anthony, who recalls his time as a chubby kid. Migs, on the other hand, harkens back to Saturday mornings spent watching cartoons while snacking on bacon.
And so Migs finally declared that they were going to take a crack it. They’d start by experimenting using an old kettle grill that was missing a leg. “When we were making the flavors it was a serious competition,” Migs exclaims. “Who makes the better cure?” It was all in the spirit of good fun; everything happened spontaneously. But in the process, the difference between properly-smoked bacon from its commercialized ilk sunk in. This led to more research and experimentation, which eventually led to mango wood.
Having tried other conventional woods for smoking, they especially enjoyed the way mango wood went with the meat. That it’s sourced locally was an even bigger advantage—both from the standpoint of cost and carbon.
The end product is a reflection of what they’d learned throughout the process. They gained a newfound appreciation of traditional methods—despite it being the less convenient way to go. “It’s longer but it’s worth it. The smoke really penetrates [the meat].” The curing and hot smoking process also acts as a natural preservative, which means they can skip on the artificial stuff.
For now they’re focused on their core products which come in three varieties: the original, honey-maple, and spicy honey-maple. “We wanted to stick to the basics first and cater to what the people want.” They’re all basics, but made better with quality ingredients—legitimate maple syrup from Canada and local honey.
Today they all work on production hands-on, from the curing to the smoking and the packaging that follows. They’ve grown and continue to grow, with hopes of expanding the business in the future. But at the end of the day, they’re still the same old pals that they’ve always been. “The work environment and friendship are definitely different,” says Anthony. “But generally, it’s fun.” Chad agrees: “Sometimes, we don’t agree with each other, but we trust each other like brothers.” Brothers, brought together by the quest for better bacon.
Mango wood-smoked bacon made the old-fashioned way using all-natural ingredients.