Martha Ysabel Anchante Franco

Manager of Plant n°61 “Canteen Maria Inmaculada” in Villa del Sol, Chincha Alta (Ica region).

I was born on July 21st1962 in the city of Chincha Alta. My mother had a canteen and she used to cook pig leg regularly.

When I was 9 I cooked my first cake, inspired by the tale of Martina the Spoon that my grandmother used to tell me in order to push me to be a hard worker. In my family’s farm I learnt to cook with natural and fresh ingredients: pea soup, chickpea chupe. When I got married I used to sell food to bus drivers. I would wake up at 4am, cook for 50 and work in the terminal as a bus controller. I lived like this for 11 years.

During 15 years I lived in a small house made of rush matting. I cooked as a necessity, I got invited to work in a canteen, they elected me President and that way I learnt to cook in large quantities. Despite the circumstances, I always enjoyed doing what I do.

I have been working as President of the “Canteen Maria Inmaculada” of Villa del Sol for 12 years. At the age of 31 I started working there, I needed it. “Working in the canteen is a fight. There, you learn how to share, how to live, how to mature, because what you share with your co-workers is like being part of a family”.

In addition to that, from my house I cooked menus to sell to 150 people and I did that withaffection and love for others because as you cook you feel that it is your heart and affection which are guiding your action.

I love to cook, I have cooked all kinds of food from Chincha. My specialties are carapulcra and ceviche. I have always cooked in large quantities, once I had to cook for 300, it was the time I cooked the most. I always sing while cooking. I happily make my orders: seco, ceviches, carapulcra, bufo, chicken marinade, 3 for 1 (soup + beans + caucau), cakes… but my specialty is still carapulcra and in addition to cooking the seasoning for 3 hours, my secret is to wait until the cream comes out.

While working in the canteen I got invited to take part in a recipe competition from the National Program of Alimentary Assistance (NPAA) and I invented a recipe of spicy tuna, which is just like spicy chicken but with tuna. Between all the recipes, mine was the winner. I won the competition and a pot was the award.

My community is very satisfied with my implication in the Town council of Chinchaand with my work in the canteen, ensuring that we never lack in supplies for the preparation of the daily helpings. In 2007, I took part in the actions of reconstruction after the earthquake in Pisco. In the canteen we received donations from a congressman; my husband and I were in charge of the distribution (house by house) of those donations that were aimed at the victims. I also had to cook. During that time we gathered all we had, we cooked for those who came to help, to express our gratitude. “Helping people makes you happy. That way I know tomorrow my 3 children will be fine.”

The main thing in life is family, children are the best part of life and they are wonderful. In my house we are 5, and 4 are working together.

Concerning accomplishments, for me it is my daily work in the canteen and in my micro-enterprise PAN-SOY as well that is providing for my 3 sons. Two of them are studying in the University of Ica: one studies Environmental Engineering, the other Alimentary Engineering and the oldest works in construction…but I want him to study as well.

I took part in PAN-SOY through the intermediary of the Women Federation of Chincha, I got interested in the project and I went to the first demonstrative session, then I applied for a PAN-SOY Plant with much desire to create my micro-enterprise.

I wanted to move forward, compared to some of my colleagues from the canteen; I did take advantage of such an opportunity. I think that there are people who do not want to grow; on the contrary I wanted to be empowered by PAN-SOY. I am a woman who fights, I have always thought “make an effort and be brave” and today I am brave. I can communicate this message to other women: let’s be fighters, women who move forward. This help offered to us (PAN-SOY) is a gift from God. Nothing is easy in this life, you have to fight. For all the falls, rise as mothers.

Today I invest a lot of time and effort in my business Solange (PAN-SOY Plant n°61) so that every day I reach a greater growth and recognition for the products on sale. I still need to get more resources, such as containers, but little by little we manage to maintain equilibrium between costs and sales. The most important thing is that we are a socially responsible business. We share our turnover with the kids from the neighboring school (75 helpings for the students and 25 helpings for the community).

Innovation is very important; this is why I love to learn. The dream of every woman is to represent her region. I think that if you put love and affection in your work you are going to move forward. My sons and husband know my cooking secrets. We have to share what we know about cooking, because nobody is essential in this life. We all have to move forward and to learn, men and women.

Every food which is well seasoned is good. If you do not prepare the seasoning right, it is going to be bad. I seduce my clients in trying my food. In addition to my specialties, I make a variety of products in my business such as frozen cake, black forest, alfajores, chocolate cakes and of course sweet and savoury snacks.

Providing education for my sons and being part of PAN-SOY requiresa lot of effort. My husband is a mechanic and sometimes when he has not a lot of work he helps me with the business.  He has always helped me to rise up; he has always been by my side, supporting me.

My passion is to help others and to cook; I mixed both with my work in the canteen. However, I had to stop working there to find new opportunities.

As entrepreneur of Plant n°61, on the short term I see myself as a thriving entrepreneur, having a bakery and a patisserie, and that way offering jobs to my community, which really needs it. My dream, in a 10 years term, is to see all my sons as professional entrepreneurs and running their own bakery-patisserie.

If God sends me to another part of the world to cook, I would like to go to Africa or Cuba.