A self-proclaimed foodie, Nicky knows a good thing when he tastes it—and he tasted a great thing with Memz. “I’ve always gravitated towards food,” says Nicky. “Opening a restaurant was something I thought I wanted to do. I’d always go to restaurants and get inspired by chefs and their passion for food. But I wasn’t a chef, and that’s where the disconnect was. While I love cooking and eating, I know I can’t be in the kitchen all day.” Everything food-related that Nicky wanted to do was put on the back burner—until Memz Chicharon came along.
Call it divine intervention or fate, because the Lozanos discovered that their corporate lawyer and close friend was a former student of Gil Calang and his wife, Marianie (fondly known as Memz). An introduction was immediately made between the Calangs and Lozanos, and a slow but steady courtship between the two parties built up, until the two sides finally locked down their partnership in 2014.
Gil and Memz’s relentless product development and pursuit for great chicharon resulted in this greaseless pork rind with a truly addicting flavor and distinct crunch that many now associate with Memz. Nicky and his partners persistently worked towards making their beloved Memz even better. They decided to stick to French pork for utmost quality, and because it works best with their particular process.
Nicky explains the process he and his partners went through in finding the best quality pork. Originally, they would use different kinds of pork from various countries resulting in inconsistent chicharon. Some would be too tough, oily, fatty, or too thin—and it was only French pork that turned out to be most consistent in terms of flavor, texture, and crunch.
How they make their chicharon also matters. “We’d like to think that the base flavor of our chicharon comes from the fat of our pork,” explains Nicky. “We don’t boil or dehydrate the pork because when you do, you also eliminate the natural flavor.” True enough, the back of the Memz bag only states three ingredients: pork, salt, and MSG. “We don’t use any oil either,” adds Nicky. “The base flavor comes from the lard that we render each time a batch is cooked.” Besides the chicharon’s quality, the Memz team also goes the extra mile by hiring a third party to do random batch testing, ensuring that the chicharon being sold isn’t contaminated with E. coli or other bacteria. With flavor and quality in check, packaging is another thing the Memz team doesn’t skimp on. Investing in solid branding and using FDA-grade aluminum foil—which is a strong moisture and oxygen barrier—guarantees freshness in every bag, and is a quality Memz refuses to compromise on.
Sticking with what he knows and loves, Nicky knew what type of person he wanted to target: the foodie market. “One of Memz’s philosophies is the Japanese philosophy of kaizen or ichiban, which is the practice of continuous improvement and being number one,” says Nicky. “Foodies are always searching for the best. How can we be a foodies’ brand if we can’t be the best? So we have to be the best chicharon.” With that in mind, it makes sense that Memz’s distributorship is carefully calculated. While foodies make an effort to search for more bags of Memz, this snack is for everyone and it’s easy to see how this chicharon brings out one’s creativity. With the hashtag #MemzAnywhere, Nicky has seen Memz used in fun, different ways: atop monggo and arroz caldo; crushed and sprinkled on an omelette or salads; used with Korean samgyupsal; and in one ambitious culinary project—as a breading for sous-vide crispy pata that was flash fried in chicharon lard.
Seeing how food lovers react towards Memz makes everything worth it for Nicky. From friends and strangers, right down to superstar chefs like Margarita Fores (who brought 30 packs to the Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2017 event in Bangkok and commented on Memz’s Instagram saying the chicharon is “worth telling the world about”). When a product is cared for as genuinely and authentically as Memz continues to be, you can taste the love through and through. For Nicky, his romance with Memz has come full circle yet shows absolutely no signs of slowing down.
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