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Keeping things hot  

FILIPINO-born Romeo Joven grew up in the United States and worked as a television commercial producer there. Traveling to a variety of cities most days of the year was part of his job. Since he spent most of his time in hotels and on the road, Mr. Joven would often order takeout or food deliveries. It often worried him that the food would get cold while on its way to him, or when they had to wait before being able to consume the takeout.     

Mr. Joven wanted to find a solution to make food stay warm.

In 2018, he started to research online about technology and methods to do so — which he admits was born out of “curiosity that turned into an obsession.” He found information about how the US military kept meat, rice, and potatoes in small pouches and had a separate heating pad utilizing hot water to heat the food in 15 minutes.     

To make the process more convenient, Mr. Joven and his business colleagues customized a portable hotbox with a heating pad that is activated by pulling a string. In 2019, the product was ready, and Hotbox Philippines began commercial operations in May 2020.     

“I think it’s all about pushing ourselves to the limit and finding out what’s not discovered yet and how we can improve our lives,” Mr. Joven, Hotbox Philippines CEO, said at a press conference on April 5.   

The hotbox was originally created for those who are busy and on-the-go. However, the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) lockdown gave their team an opportunity to improve the product.   

“All of a sudden, we were all home. So, what we did during that time is to improve the product, to create different sizes from individual boxes to family size platters for groups of 10,” Mr. Joven said.     

The Hotbox is equipped with steam technology which heats the food up to 30 minutes at over 80 degrees Celsius.  

The hotboxes are available to order without food and come in three sizes: Premium (P8 to P750), Benta (P85 to P175), and Platter (P255 to P1,375).      

Hotbox Philippines offers several Filipino and international cuisine choices in its online menu. Orders are also accepted for customized boxes to be delivered for meetings or special occasions. Deliveries are available within Metro Manila and Cavite.    

“You could put [the box] in the refrigerator, but it just takes longer for the heating mechanism to activate,” Mr. Joven explained. If the customer wants to refrigerate the food first, it is advised to remove the food to be refrigerated from the hotbox, and return the food to the box for heating.  

The single-use heating pad’s contents, according to Mr. Joven, can be used as “a neutralizer for the soil.” 

Since the product’s launch, Hotbox Philippines has partnered with several hotels and restaurants including Megaworld hotels, Shangri-La Hotels, Sofitel, and restaurants such as House of Lasagna.     

To be launched within the year are a pizza box, a burger box, and a soup box for ramen.    

Hotbox Philippines also plans to expand outside of Metro Manila to Cebu, parts of Mindanao and Northern Luzon starting in June. At the same time, the plan to expand abroad, starting in the United States.     

“We are definitely looking at expansion in the Philippines and strengthening our presence here, but at the same time, the expansion abroad,” Mr. Joven said.     

For more information about Hotbox Philippines and hotbox food orders, visit www.hotboxph.com or follow their Facebook and Instagram accounts @hotboxphils. Deliveries are available within Metro Manila and Cavite. Michelle Anne P. Soliman