Editor and Chef – Jonats & Mama Nors
With the recent arrival of Jollibee in the Filipino Food Retail Industry in Canada, Filipino cuisine has been brought into the spotlight. Chicken Joy is becoming more and more of a household name in Winnipeg and will definitely reach the whole of Canada real soon. Moreover, traditional Filipino cuisine is starting to gain attention as well.
In line with this, we should take a look at one of the first Filipino restaurants in Winnipeg, Mama Nors Kitchen. Many have witnessed the humble beginning of this restaurant. They started selling Filipino desserts for special orders. They opened a small store with one table which quickly became four. They used to have one tray of food and now they have four. Let us get to know the real Mama Nors, Ate Noralyn, as she shares her story in the interview below.
Jonats: How long have you been in Canada?
Mama Nors: I have been in Winnipeg for 24 years. Ang tagal na ‘no? When I became a mother, I decided to stay at home and become a full time stay-at-home mom. I took care of my children while my husband is working in a cruise ship. I have always love preparing and cooking food for my family. Back then, I remember there were only few Filipinos residing in Winnipeg.
Jonats: Where did the Business Name come from?
Mama Nors: My real name is Noralyn. My friends call me Nors. All my children‘s friends called me ‘Mama Nors‘ as a sign of respect. One time, I mentioned to them that I am planning to put up a business. It was actually my children, together with their friends, who suggested to use ‘Mama Nors‘.
Jonats: Can you describe your business for us?
Mama Nors: Mama Nors Kitchen is anyone’s go-to for Filipino dishes and desserts. I prepare and cook delicious ‘kakanin‘ as often known by our kababayans. There is a wide selection for you to choose from. We have appetizing sweets to bestseller favorites such as puto and kutsinta. The puto flan, kalamay, biko and ube halaya are favorites too among Filipinos. I also prepare pickled papaya in a bottle which is an excellent side to fish or pork and it satisfies the cravings for ‘atsara‘. I enjoy cooking viands or ‘ulam‘ for party needs as well. Eggrolls, pansit, kaldereta, menudo, kare-kare, beef steak are some of the most ordered ones by my customers.
Jonats: Why did you choose this line of business?
Mama Nors: Cooking has always been my passion. That is the ultimate reason for me. I love cooking and sharing the goodness and the richness of the flavors in the food I prepared. This gives me full satisfaction when my ‘suki‘ or regular customers enjoy what I cooked for them. I just have a simple request from them which is to place their orders at least 2 days ahead so that I can make them with the freshest ingredients possible.
According to many, ‘sarap na hahanap-hanapin‘ is what they get from the food I prepare and that is the main reason they keep coming back. Pinoys will always be delighted with good nostalgic taste and will surely call again for their next potluck party.
Jonats: How long you have been in business?
Mama Nors: Since in my teenage years in the Philippines, I have enjoyed cooking for my family at home. Here, I started to learn to balance the right amount of salt to be added, the sourness with the help of a spoonful of vinegar, or to lighten up the flavour with pepper. I know these are simple cooking techniques but I learned these through experiences which provided me a strong foundation in cooking.
My Mama Nors Kitchen business did not happen overnight. I remember I have been invited in several parties and I would normally bring some ‘kakanin’. “MASARAP” is the usual comment I get. The request I get to cook for my friends gradually increased hence, I decided to start the business.
Jonats: How did you get started in the business?
Mama Nors: I began accepting orders only for Fridays which later became Fridays and Saturdays. The rest is history. I bring food for our church services. The orders would come from my church goers, their friends and casual customers.
Jonats: Do you have other jobs aside from your business?
Mama Nors: I am a proud full-time foster parent. I teach them good family values, their rights and responsibilities, and the love for God.
Jonats: What are the issues you encountered when you started your business?
Mama Nors: I have always been optimistic, and I see to it that I give my best in preparing everything I serve. Issues can easily be prevented once you develop a good organizational system and discipline. I routinely check my supplies, and I constantly have my log book ready to list the food to cook and the ingredients I need to prepare them.
Jonats: Do you know who your competitors are?
Mama Nors: I believe that my number one competitor is myself. I need to produce the best taste in my food and that is basically my drive when I cook for my patrons. I make sure that they will be satisfied.Jonats: Where do you see your business at in the next year? In the next 5 yrs?
Mama Nors: Like a baby, he will start to develop and grow gradually. He will crawl and walk with support, walk alone and run alone. My business will prosper with the support of my regular customers within a year. I believe that I will be more productive and I am looking forward to serve more orders.
In five years time? I will cross the bridge when I get there. All I pray for is that continue to be strong and healthy so I get to continue cooking more Filipino delicacies for our kababayans. Most of all, I simply pray for a happy life.
Jonats: Do you have a staff you work with? How many are they?
Mama Nors: I don’t have a staff, I have a very supportive family. I actually prepare everything with my husband and children.
Mama Nors and Papa David
Jonats: Why do you think your customers choose you over your competitors?
Mama Nors: I truly have no idea. I respect the right of my customers to choose for themselves. I simply make sure that the food I serve are delicious so my customers keep coming back.
Sizzling question: What are your thoughts for those sellers who don’t have legal permits to do so?
Mama Nors: I honestly turn a blind eye. I often look at the opportunity for everyone to succeed in their lives especially in showing and serving their talents in cooking. The fact that we all get to satisfy our kababayan’s panlasang Pinoy, I am grateful.
Jonats: How’s life in the kitchen?
Mama Nors: I did not expect the support I received over the holidays. Due to the huge demand we got, we were open during Christmas and New Year just to cater to orders. We might as well cook other people’s orders since we were already in the kitchen preparing our food for the holidays.
We have this huge fridge here which was full of food for the orders we received. This was the first time we catered to orders during the holidays. Last year, I got sick during the season and I wasn’t able to experience it. I was glad to have experienced it because it was both overwhelming and fun. I take pride that I have regulars who keep coming back and that is the reason I don’t mind losing money in the business sometimes.
Jonats: Mama Nors, you preach the truth. You are a wonderful person. I honestly don’t feel like your regular customer, you treat us like your friends.
Jonats: What’s new in Mama Nors Kitchen?
Mama Nors: We started with desserts but we have added a lot more on the menu. We offer Pinoy breakfast dishes now. The biggest news would be that we are now available for delivery through SKIPTHEDISHES @mamanors.com. Use the promo code
Jonats: What can we expect next from Mama Nors Kitchen?
Mama Nors: I suddenly felt pressure on my shoulders from just hearing that question. I can just promise you that there will be more in store in the future. Everyone can just wait for a surprise. Our main goal right now is to add valuable services every now and then. We might actually get a mascot in the future, we don’t know yet. HAHA
From left to right: Our host Jopay, Mama Nors, Papa David and Jonats
Mama Nors thanks the Filipino Portal for featuring Mama Nors Kitchen. She expresses here appreciation to the work and support they do towards Pinoy-run Businesses. It is safe to say that Mama Nors is one of our loyal followers.
Here in Filipino portal, we believe that it’s about time to showcase our Filipino Foods and Delicacies. We have more to offer that we just lack publicity for them. This is our chance to support our own culture and promote our savoury dishes which we take pride in.
If you are a Pinoy entrepreneur or restaurateur who would like to get featured online, get in touch with us through our page at Filipino Portal – your one-stop-shop online resource for everything Pinoy.
Watch the FULL video interview below: