Melanie Santos, Owner of Munch Bakery (photo courtesy of JennKL Photography)

Melanie Santos, Owner of Munch Bakery (photo courtesy of JennKL Photography)

Melanie Santos

Growing up Filipino American, I was always surrounded by food.  Family parties easily consisted of 70 loud relatives enjoying one another’s company continuously eating plates overflowing with lumpia, fish, pork, and noodles and a table designated just for sweets of the typical leche flan, buko pandan salad, and ube cake.  But fortunately, because this is LA, the melting pot of the local cultures was a huge influence.  On those tables were shrimp shumai, mochi, tamales, and pan dulce.  I grew up loving food.  The nice thing is it wasn’t just Filipino influenced.

At a young age, food positively affected my life.  At 10 years old I tried carrot cake with cream cheese frosting and to me, it was divine.  I had to recreate it.  That July 4th, I baked my very first cake, and I was hooked.  My family praised me in a way I never experienced before and I continued to bake for them every time I had a chance.  Baking became my avenue for love.  

In 2012, I was working a regular 9-5 job and decided to enter my desserts in the Orange County Fair.  I chose to bake Filipino desserts because that was my palette.  To my surprise, both of my entries placed, 1st in the Cake Category and 3rd in the Cookie Bar.  It was in that experience that I realized Filipino flavors can easily be appreciated by everyone.

Moving away from tradition, I saw the opportunity to expose my flavors of LA in a way not typical of Filipino desserts.  My experience growing up here is my story and my macarons illustrate that.  The flavors are inspired by the cross pollination of cultures strengthening this community and I choose to honor them through my art of baking.