Imelda Adao is serving Filipino favourites in several parts of the city, and it all started with a bakery.
Adao and her husband Jim came to Winnipeg on Sept. 30, 2005 as part of the Provincial Nominee Program.
According to the Citizenship and Immigrant Canada website (cic.gc.ca), people who immigrate under the PNP "have the skills, education and work experience needed to make an immediate economic contribution to the province or territory that nominates them".
Back home in the Philippines, Jim had been a cook. Once they arrived, they worked at St. Boniface Hospital for a year.
"I worked as a cashier and Jim was a baker," Adao said.
The Adaos dreamed of opening their own business, so they opened their first bakery on June 9, 2007.
"It’s called Jimel’s Bakery," Adao said, explaining that the moniker is a combination of both their names.
Jimel’s Bakery was a hit, so the Adaos opened up a second location on Keewatin Street, nestled in a strip mall just south of Inkster, across from Dairy Queen.
Adao said she’s just listening and catering to her customers.
"It’s a demand," Adao said. "Especially since we’re baking Filipino products, and there’s lots of Filipinos in the North End area."
But that wasn’t enough.
"It’s Jim’s passion to have a restaurant," Adao said.
The Adaos opened a restaurant because Filipino food isn’t always accessible in Winnipeg.
"It seems there is no fine dining restaurant for our community, and you know how fast the growing population of Filipino people is in Winnipeg," Adao said.
Jimel’s International Cuisine, located at 1045 St. James Street, opened on Dec. 10, 2012. With Jim as the head chef and baker, they’ve been in business for more than seven months, preparing not only Filipino dishes but food from other cultures as well.
"We called it international because we also cater Eastern and Asian cuisine," Adao said.
Their international menu includes tandoori chicken and biryani rice, but they’ve made an agreement with their neighbour, a Chinese restaurant, not to serve Chinese food. Of course, they provide classic Filipino dishes, such as pancit, adobo, and sinigang.
With three successful businesses, the Adaos appear to have it all — but they’re still missing something.
"Our daughters are in Singapore working. They’re working in a restaurant so they can have experience to join us here," Adao said.
Their daughters, aged 29 and 25, have to apply under the PNP to move to Canada since they are over 18. However, the Adaos’ son, 11, was able to come to Winnipeg with them.
For more information on Jimel’s International Cuisine, visit their Facebook page or call 204-654-6357.