Calamba restaurateur dreams of caldo

This restaurateur’s fascination with soup stock led him to build the restaurant he always wanted.


FOR Joel Gelisan, putting up restaurants is not only a business venture but also a way to showcase his love for cooking. As the youngest in a brood of three, Joel developed his skills early on through his mother, Corazon Gelisan. “My mom is from Pampanga so she knows everything about cooking,” Joel says. “I would follow her to the kitchen and help out. From there, I learned how to cook kalderetang lengua and pork belly dinuguan.”

Caldo is located at the Fiesta Market in Solenad 3 .

Caldo is Joel’s dream restaurant. As far back as he can remember, he wanted to have a restaurant that will feature the recipes from his childhood. He named it after the soup stock. “Since I love to help my mother in the kitchen and have had a taste of her cooking, I would always wonder why everything she cooked was delicious,” he says. The secret is the caldo. Using caldo — the broth or soup stock made out of simmered meat (often bones), fish or vegetables — is a key element in many cuisines, particularly those with Spanish influence.

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Since then, Joel never forgot the term and dreamed of naming a restaurant after it. After getting married and moving to Silang, Cavite, he found the perfect place to realize that dream: Nuvali, the Ayala development that straddles Santa Rosa and Calamba cities in Laguna.

Joel Gelisan learned so much from his mother’s cooking and was blown away by his discovery that the soup stock was the reason why the food she prepared tasted so good. (Photo by Leobel Colona)

Since its inauguration in 2015, Caldo has been successful in attracting customers to enjoy heirloom recipes, especially since Joel not only oversees but also personally cooks in the restaurant. His wife Marilyn, on the other hand, takes care of the desserts.

But Caldo isn’t Joel’s first venture in the restaurant business. His first restaurant is Bertito’s Anyhaw Restaurant, popular to the citizens of Calamba or those who travel south of the province as Anyhaw. As the name implies, Anyhaw features grilled recipes that goes well with alcohol. As a Calambeño, the location is perfect for Joel who was then living with his parents. 

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His family has been nothing but supportive of Joel, who is 37 and a father of a three-year old daughter. His in-laws, for one, have a farm that supplies poultry for both Anyhaw and Caldo. “It’s one way of making sure of the quality of the (chicken) we serve,” he says. And the chickens Caldo serve are huge, usually 1.4 kgs a serving. “That is one of the reasons our customers keep coming back — the big servings,” he says.

A couple of restaurants may be a handful but Joel plans on putting up more. For 2019, he wants to put up a restaurant cum café in Calamba, near the church, for students and other residents of Calamba “so that they will no longer have to travel to experience good food.” (Laguna Now)

Caldo is located at the Fiesta Market in Solenad 3 and is open starting 11:00 in the morning until 10:00 in the evening.