Feature: Woman turns herbs into healthy gastronomy, now a successful entrepreneur

Photo taken from Good Vibes Facebook Page (https://www.facebook.com/goodvibesbygeronimo/)

Inspired by how her father displayed hard work and perseverance in life, a woman who grew up learning most of her life lessons doing farm works with her dad is now a successful business owner of a food hub here.

With great joy of doing what she has now, Christine Joy “C-Joy” Salvador, 31, a psychology degree holder and a native of Laoag City, is the owner of a thriving food business named Good Vibes by Geronimo’s Coffee, Pasta and Delight, with her homegrown herbs as the main ingredient.

The flavorful and unique herbs used to add aroma and taste in the usual pasta, sandwich, dessert, and even beverages that are being served at the café have totally created a buzz among costumers and have become an instant hit with the diners.

“I observed that Ilocanos, by the looks of the food establishments here, are not fond of using herbs in their dishes. Maybe there is this notion that healthy foods are not delicious. Thus, I created something that will change their perception,” said C-Joy.

To challenge herself, C-Joy introduced the idea of “Dulang” where people get to dine in their backyard sitting on the floor with a cozy set-up, mostly for couple. But the crowd grew bigger that now even group of friends are booking reservation to experience Dulang.

C-Joy did not expect that her herbal dishes will be appreciated, and that demand will grow from the series of free-taste she gave to friends and family into a profitable business venture.

“I only crave for the taste of herbs in my food because I grew up with these stuffs. I tried to make pasta using these ingredients since it just grows in our backyard, then it became an instant favorite,” she said.

C-Joy’s mother is the one who has a green thumb in planting herbs. Her mother believes in alternative medicine and uses herbal medicine in their household to heal simple sickness such as colds, bruise, and even allergies.

Because of this, C-Joy grew up with their small garden of herbal plants like Holy Basil, Dill, Thyme, Oregano, Aloe Vera, Ashitaba, Rosemary, Gotu Kola, and Pandan, all these growing in their backyard.

Today, their family has about 200-square meter garden with different variety of herbal plants—mostly basil, dill, and thyme—where C-Joy picks fresh herbs for her pasta and other food servings in Good Vibes.

The mini-garden is maintained by their household mainly for the use of their business. C-Joy also advocates supporting local farmers in Ilocos Norte by buying additional supplies from them.

She currently supports a lettuce grower in Pagudpud and a calamansi grower in Laoag City, Ilocos Norte. She eyes to support more local farmers as demand for her business grows, like calamansi which she uses in her signature drink ‘Kabigan.’

With roughly two-year in the market, Good Vibes now operates six days a week except Sundays. They supply juices in six food stalls across the province, helping other people earn additional income.

Adding interest in this food hub are the dishes named after the top tourist destinations in Ilocos, C-Joy’s way of showing support to the growing tourism industry here and in the neighboring provinces.

For instance, the popular Kapurpurawan Rock Formation in Burgos town is interpreted as a pasta dish with the white and creamy sauce representing the color of the rocks. Another bestseller is the Patapat pasta, a dish named after Patapat Viaduct in Pagudpud, topped with homemade longganisa (Ilocano pork sausage) and basil. For sandwiches, diners have Calle Crisologo (named after the street in Vigan), and Adams sandwich to indulge in.

For C-Joy, being in a business using herbs is addictive. She relates: “When you love what you do, it is only nothing but fun.” She constantly tries to innovate recipes using herbs and crops from the local growers to cater to the cravings of her growing patrons. “One of my goals is to introduce to the Ilocanos, especially to our young generations, the health benefits of the herbal plants and of course the importance of healthy eating,” C-Joy said.

People love the cool interior and cozy ambiance, and most especially, the delicious and healthy meals of Good Vibes that they keep going back to the place. The food hub is located only a few feet away from the La Tabacalera and Museo Iloco in Laoag City. (TNM/PIA-1, Ilocos Norte)