Chef Margarita’s love affair with food and restaurants began early: born and raised in the Philippines, she grew up in a kitchen just outside Manila owned and operated by her parents. After studying pastry at Le Cordon Bleu in London, Margarita enrolled in The Culinary Institute of America in New York, where she received her degree in Culinary Arts.
Upon graduation, Chef Margarita moved to Los Angeles, and worked in some of the city’s most celebrated restaurants, including Spago and Patina, where she met her future husband and business partner, Walter Manzke. In 2001, she left Patina to work with Josiah Citrin at his two-star Michelin restaurant, Mélisse, where she quickly rose to the position of Sous Chef.
In search of new challenges, Manzke and Margarita moved north to Carmel in 2004, where they opened a trio of highly successful restaurants: Bouchée, Cantinetta Luca and l’Auberge Carmel. In 2007, Manzke and Margarita returned to Los Angeles to reopen Bastide Restaurant, where she served as Pastry Chef. They had already begun to conceptualize the restaurant that would eventually become République, which opened its doors in December 2013.
At République, Chef Margarita oversees the Pastry Department, bakes the wildly popular breads, and is largely responsible for the success of the daytime Café. Chef Margarita, together with her husband and his sister-in-law, also opened Wildflour bakery and café in Manila which has since expanded to multiple locations.
These days Chef Margarita keeps busy not only at Sari Sari Store, but at her and Walter’s four other restaurants in Los Angeles: République, Bicyclette, Petty Cash Taqueria, and the newly-opened Manzke.
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