OPEN HOUSE

Selina Selma- Ro­mualdez serves up easy and el­e­gant en­ter­tain­ing ideas

Cebu Living - - Front Page - By DIANNE PINEDA Images by SAM LIM

It was al­ready nine o’clock in the evening when we got to Selina Selma-Ro­mualdez’ old fam­ily house in Bani­lad. Fresh off the plane after a flight mishap and head­ing straight to the shoot, we care­fully knocked on her door, apolo­getic for the late in­tru­sion. What wel­comed us was a warm, beau­ti­ful ta­ble set­ting, with char­cu­terie, sausages, olives, and bread served on the side, the smell of home­cooked din­ner in the air, and soft mu­sic play­ing in the back­ground. With a job that en­tails search­ing for the best prod­ucts from around the world, Selma-Ro­mualdez is as open as her home: there are no strangers, only guests, and new en­coun­ters are al­ways wel­come.

What was your ear­li­est mem­ory of a gath­er­ing at home?

As far as I can re­mem­ber, I was al­ways sur­rounded by fam­ily. We are all bound with a common bond and we all share the love for food. Now, with my own kids, the rit­u­als of Sun­day gath­er­ings with the en­tire clan are what binds us to­gether. We have long lunches that lead to me­rienda and later on, din­ner.

What is the per­fect num­ber of guests?

Heavy en­ter­tain­ment is not my style. Ide­ally, I pre­fer to put to­gether a spread for two to four cou­ples at a time. I feel I am able to en­gage and bet­ter en­ter­tain. More­over, it doesn’t feel

like I’m cook­ing for an army. I’m the one that def­i­nitely does a mix of em­bel­lished and ca­sual din­ners.

What is your en­ter­tain­ing style?

My spread is usu­ally dic­tated by my mood. Un­doubt­edly, any­thing goes for me. Noth­ing com­plex, only smartly paired and whole­some food.

What type of food do you think is best for en­ter­tain­ing at home?

I have this love af­fair with Ital­ian food; it al­ways leaves my soul sat­is­fied. It is my go-to spread be­cause it is de­cep­tively sim­ple to make and it al­ways leaves a com­fort­ing and con­tented palate. My fa­vorite part is that it’s al­ways best paired with any type of wine.

How do you ar­range the seats? Do you pair cou­ples, friends?

There are al­ways two phases in a gath­er­ing. More of­ten than not, we are all seated by pairs but, when desserts and wines are deep with the con­ver­sa­tions, we find our­selves seated with girls on one side and boys on the other.

What is the num­ber one rule ev­ery good host or host­ess must re­mem­ber?

It’s good to al­ways over-pre­pare. I never want a fun night to end and the best way to keep it go­ing is to be shar­ing great times over a sen­sa­tional feast.

No din­ner party would be com­plete with­out...

A sense of hu­mor with a good bot­tle of wine.

What was the great­est din­ner party you ever threw or at­tended?

I en­joy my reg­u­lar ex­per­i­men­tal din­ners with my foodie group. It’s the only time the closet- chef in us comes out to play with­out any harsh judg­ments. We are al­ways in it for the fun and we all love to share with each other our gas­tro­nomic dis­cov­er­ies.

What are the things one should con­sider when en­ter­tain­ing at home?

De­pend­ing on the grav­ity of the oc­ca­sion, there are so many el­e­ments to con­sider in en­ter­tain­ing. For me, space and en­vi­ron­ment are cru­cial as­pects I would as­sess. One must make sure that there are am­ple seats for ev­ery­one and that guests must be com­fort­ably en­ter­tained at all times. I feel that when th­ese are com­pro­mised, they bring un­pleas­ant re­sponses— and those will just spread like wild­fire.

Do you con­sider themes?

Yes, in our foodie group, we have themed menus. This way, all prepa­ra­tions com­ple­ment each dish. More than any­thing, we are al­ways on the look­out for any el­e­ment of sur­prise.

What’s your prin­ci­ple in host­ing a gath­er­ing?

A gra­cious host makes the en­tire night. It is es­sen­tial to en­ter­tain only with good vibes, a stel­lar spread of so­phis­ti­cated yet sim­ple cre­ations, and al­ways a good set of friends to en­joy it with. There’s re­ally noth­ing more to it.

SLEEVE­LESS BLAZER, VA­NIA RO­MOFF. HOUND­STOOTH TROUSERS, P2,995, TOP­SHOP, AYALA CEN­TER CEBU.

KNIT DRESS, P2,295, ZARA, AYALA CEN­TER CEBU.

SELMA-RO­MUALDEZ’S AP­PE­TIZER SPREADIN­CLUDES A SMOKED SAL­MON SALAD, SAUSAGES, FRESH GRAPES, AND BREAD. FOR DESSERT, SHE SERVES TIRAMISU ANDBRAZO DE MERCEDES.

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