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Owner of Bacchus International, Alex Lichaytoo talks about the importance of high standards

Quality is key when it comes to Alex Lichaytoo’s philosophy. This man grew up in love with food, became an exquisite cook himself, and transformed into one of the Philippines more prominent wine collectors and distributors. Lichaytoo first found his passion importing Grand Cru wines for friends 25 years ago.

The now established and respected purveyor, who’s been knighted with the Cavaliere dell’Ordine della Stella d’Italia (Order of the Star of Italy) and French Mérite Agricole, is co-founder and president of Bacchus International. With his sterling reputation, he is responsible for supplying the local food industry with not only the best of wines but also premium ingredients and the latest in kitchenware from around the world.

His ethos is rooted in quality, and the need for excellent building blocks: ingredients. Lichaytoo’s high standards and discerning palate are what set him apart and attracts clients and producers to him.

When spending time with Lichaytoo, his passion for food and wine is truly palpable and infectious. Learn more about this Tastemaker here:

Read more: How Did The Pandemic Affect Restaurateur Abba Napa?

How did you start?

We started 25 years ago as wine collectors, and would import Grand Cru wines for friends. Eventually, Bacchus was born out of the need to bring in better wines. 

What would you say your big break was?

Our big break was when Shangri-la Makati hotel asked us to open a real temperature-controlled wine shop in the hotel and essentially became their wine cellar. This made us “feel” more serious as a potential business.

What would you attribute to the success of your brand 

When people buy food and wine from Bacchus, they are confident of the quality we provide. We never compromise on the products we offer; they are the best in their category. All while being priced competitively on an international level. 

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What do you feel is your contribution to the PH dining scene?  

We made wines and ingredients that were needed to improve the restaurant scene in the Philippines available to brands, chefs and establishments.  We always wanted to inspire chefs to realise that the quality of ingredients is the number one consideration if you wanted to create world-class cuisine. Whether it's cookware, wine glasses, tools or ingredients.

How has the pandemic affected your business and how have you evolved?  

Of course, for now, supplying restaurants has been difficult, but our retail stores and online sales have actually increased.  People are now learning how to cook and enjoy good food and wine at home. Plus, families are doing it together which is great!

What motivates you to do what you do?   

Our basic philosophy is to only import food and wine products of high quality and of course what we also enjoy eating and drinking ourselves.  It's definitely not work  and more fun than anything else we can do. 

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Where do you see the future of the PH food scene? 

For now it’s hard to say with the pandemic still on-going.  But definitely, there is development and a lot of growth in the home-made food area. These groups will continue to grow and attract a strong client base.  Hopefully, we can also help them professionalise and become serious businesses in the future.

What do you think is the next trend in the food scene and will you be part of it?

We have always been at the forefront of certain cuisines such as Italian and Mediterranean food. I believe this will continue, except the quality will continue to improve.  We will always try to inspire food operators to go for premium quality, as most people will end up there. What is key for us now is to look for quality products that will also be more affordable. We will never stop introducing new wines, ingredients and kitchen tools/equipment for the industry. 

Advice for a young entrepreneur looking to enter your space?  

Don’t always think of cost and how much you can save per dish. There will always be someone cheaper than your restaurant and thinking this way does not develop customer loyalty. 

The secret is very simple: create dishes that are so good and of high standards that people dream of your food even when asleep.  This way they will continue to support you and also bring all their friends over.  This can be done at all price points, if you want to make burgers and fries make sure you make the best ones in the city.  

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