Dumaguete’s Sans Rival: Local Heritage, Global Appeal

Across the scenic seaside boulevard of Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental, sits a culinary icon that has delighted generations of locals and travelers alike. Sans Rival Cakes & Pastries, a restaurant, café, and pastry shop that has become synonymous with the city's gastronomic identity, was founded by Trinidad "Trining" Teves-Sagarbarria and first opened its doors to the public back in 1977. The fascinating story of how Sans Rival came to be is just as rich and layered as the famous cake itself.

It all began with a passion for baking that ran deep in Trining's family. According to her daughter and Managing Director Chining Sagarbarria-Bustamante, sans rival was the first cake her mother made that was a unanimous hit with family and friends. The overwhelming response was what inspired her to start taking orders, which then blossomed into an idea to set up shop in a small portion of their ancestral residence. When it came time to name the establishment, there was no doubt from the start that it would be called Sans Rival, which directly translates to "Unrivaled" in English, because of its unmatched taste and popularity.

Sans Rival establishment in Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental.

From its humble beginnings as a small pastry shop with only four tables, Sans Rival grew organically through the years, much thanks to the unwavering support of the people of Dumaguete. They not only patronized the shop but more importantly was instrumental in spreading its fame, bringing sans rival cakes and silvanas (another specialty) as "pasalubong" or gifts to friends and family living in other parts of the country.

The famous Silvanas, also available in different flavors.

With the passing of Trining in 2004, the second generation was more than determined to keep her legacy alive and growing. The tiny shop was renovated into a café, offering a wider selection of cakes and pastries, in fact introducing to the public the rest of Trining’s original recipes. This small step became the starting point of an expansion that would see Sans Rival outlets opening in Cebu and Manila, and eventually making its way to the United States.

One of the most significant milestones in Sans Rival's journey was the opening of the Sans Rival Bistro in 2012. Housed in the bigger portion of their family's ancestral home along the Dumaguete seaside boulevard, Chining along with her six siblings transformed the space into a full-fledged restaurant and bar, further cementing Sans Rival's reputation as one of the city's most sought-after culinary destinations.

Today, Sans Rival is more than just a pastry shop—it is a family corporation run by the second generation, with the third generation slowly but surely adding new layers to sustain the growth of the business. Chining, who has been at the helm as of operations since 2004, attributes the success of Sans Rival to aligning their progressive evolution with their mother's vision of excellence, to this day the cornerstone of all their products.

Article by: Liway Espina

Photos by: JJ Macahig

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