Fascinating Women 2023: Ana Lorenzana De Ocampo
Wildly successful, still rising like flour
When one sees Ana Lorenzana de Ocampo, co-founder of Wildflour Café and Bakery corporation, the mother company of Wildflour, Little Flour, Farmacy, Pink’s Burgers & Hotdogs, and Hotel Bar, Wildflour Italian and Wildflour To Go, wild is really not the word that comes to mind. She is certainly prim, proper, polished and polite. But she is also wildly successful; and certainly a woman who inspires, enlightens, intrigues, and elucidates. It has been a good decade since Wildflour opened at the corner of 4th Ave and 26th Street, the ground floor space of the Six/NET BUILDING, revolutionizing the restaurant scene by going from brunch cafe to all day culinary experience and weekend fun hangout to veritable restaurant empire.
Ana reminisces, “At first, I really thought that it would be a hobby type of business. My sister and I had always wanted a little cafe and bakery, we grew up loving baking. But when I got that corner spot, something in me knew that I had to work really hard to somehow be worthy of the space. Actually, I don’t even know what made me gutsy enough to apply for it, all the other ground floor spaces of the buildings in that area had more established tenants. But I made the menu, I wanted some creative dishes there, and to this day, I still don’t know why they approved us. But they did, like the very next day after I submitted my proposal!”
Born to rise
Ana and her sister were born to serve. On their mother’s side, they are Gordons from Olongapo, pioneers in building the city and the whole of Subic after its turnover. On her father’s side, she is a Lorenzana, who are the pillars of the patis and condiments industry. Food and hospitality are her DNA. But she is no nepo baby. She had done her time, and honed her amazing work ethic. After she graduated from UP Diliman with a degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management, Ana was tasked with running the family business, White Rock Resort. Shortly after marriage, she wanted to beef up her baking and cooking skills and got her Le Grande Diploma from Le Cordon Bleu. She took in orders for bespoke baked goods and ran the small business from her home. But bigger horizons lay ahead. When Wildflour became a wild success (there is really no better way to describe it), Ana took the momentum and ran with it. Little Flour focused even more on the all day breakfast theme and incorporated Filipino dishes and continental breakfast staples. Farmacy took the basic idea of an American ice cream shop and updated and upgraded with gourmet ice cream flavors and nostalgic concoctions. Pinks was an LA franchise; and then Ana saw that an underused corner at the back could be turned into a speakeasy type of bar, and Hotel Bar was born. Wildflour Italian riffs on the Italian classics and Wildflour to Go is the in-house delivery system that was a brilliant pivot during the pandemic. From that BGC corner, there are now two more Wild Flour restaurants in BGC (Italian and a Wildflour in Uptown Mall, bravely opened during the pandemic), another in Legaspi and Salcedo Villages and Rockwell and in Greenhills, Little Flour in Salcedo , BGC and SM Megamall, and one soon to rise in Alabang.
How does Ana do it all? “I can’t do it without my team. We are very collaborative. They call me by first name and they really know what I like and I don’t like. It might sound bad , to say that we are clones, but we really just know each other that well. We had to build on our momentum. It’s all about learning from each other."
And some women’s intuition doesn’t hurt. “There are still people, I know, who think that men are better business people than women. But I think that women are more meticulous, more discerning. When my mom joined my dad in his business, that’s when the business really grew. I am also the kind of person who can tell if someone is having an off day, or if the team is somehow on its wrong footing, and I don’t ignore that.
Food for the soul
Ana now knows that success isn’t success if it isn’t shared. She has joined some mentorship programs of Go Negosyo to help beginning entrepreneurs. Wild flour group deals directly with women farmers to help them increase their livelihood.
She always emphasizes that Wild Flour was nurtured by deep and abiding family values, always crediting the lessons passed on by her grandparents and parents.
She also knows that even if they can now experiment with their menu and baked offerings. there are still some universal and non negotiable elements. “ We will never scrimp on ingredients. We build Wild Flour on elevated comfort food. So even if it’s just a spaghetti with tomato sauce, I always say, it will be a really good tomato sauce."
On a recent IG post, Ana wrote: “Always have a good vision. Because even if your plans and aspirations change in the future, this vision will help you make decisions, and it will help you towards your goal.”
Photography by Ria Regino
Sittings Editor: Troy Barrios
Videographer: CJ Reyes
Hair and Makeup retouch: Patty Cristobal
Photographer’s assistants: Warren Diotay and Hipolito Gangani
Special thanks to SmartBite