From the dé­cor to the fare, nat­u­ral el­e­ments take the stage

From ta­ble set­ting and dé­cor to food, Kate An­zani reveres all things that come from na­ture

Cebu Living - - Front Page - KATE AN­ZANI

“Other than be­ing cooked well, food has to be made from good in­gre­di­ents. I would al­ways com­plain that our prod­ucts are too small, but in truth, I’m so thank­ful that they’re small; [That means] they’re nat­u­ral,” shares Kate An­zani, wife of Ital­ian chef Marco An­zani and co-owner of the An­zani Group of Restau­rants.

Af­ter get­ting sick from her most re­cent trip abroad be­cause of in­gest­ing ge­net­i­cally mod­i­fied food, An­zani has made trans­parency in food prove­nance her mantra. And with the couple’s com­pany known for all things epi­curean, they are now cul­ti­vat­ing pock­ets of herb and fruit gar­dens and a small mush­room farm in their own back­yard. But apart from grow­ing food, An­zani takes it to the next level by us­ing real fruits as her fes­tive dé­cor.

De­scribe your theme for this year’s hol­i­day sea­son.

I want to show­case my per­sonal ad­vo­cacy of real food. The wreath out­side is wholly made from fruits. The Christ­mas tree is dec­o­rated with de­hy­drated slices of or­anges and le­mons. The red berries on the ta­ble are ac­tual berries from the palm tree.

Do you al­ways have themes ev­ery year?

Yes. I work on the el­e­ments first. This year, I went with cop­per and stone, and I’m think­ing of in­clud­ing wood as well. Last year, I went for the pep­per­mint candy theme.

Do you have any hol­i­day tra­di­tion that you re­li­giously fol­low ev­ery year?

Making gin­ger­bread. The hol­i­day is on the 24th—ob­vi­ously, that’s the Filipino way of cel­e­brat­ing Christ­mas. My sis­ters and I hold a gin­ger­bread-making ac­tiv­ity [for the kids] at around 8 p.m., then Noche Buena is at 9 p.m.

What’s your menu this Christ­mas?

I want hol­i­day din­ners to be home-cooked meals. I don’t care if it takes long to pre­pare, so one week be­fore, we start pre­serv­ing jams and com­potes. Some are hard to find here so we try to get ev­ery­thing in be­fore De­cem­ber.

This year, we’re hav­ing a ham hock. It’s still the leg of ham, but we’ll do it Ital­ian style, which they call cotechino.

We have dif­fer­ent menus. One is for Christ­mas Eve and one is for Christ­mas brunch, which starts at 10 a.m. Then af­ter brunch, there’s a 2 p.m. snack. Usu­ally, the left­overs from the night be­fore are served for Christ­mas Day din­ner.

What’s one hol­i­day trick you can share to make gath­er­ings less stress­ful?

Once the guests ar­rive, you need to feed them and let them drink some­thing. By do­ing this, you can take an hour longer in the kitchen as they’re still hap­pily get­ting com­fort­able with each other. Be­cause ev­ery­one is stressed th­ese days, it’s im­por­tant to give each guest the time to [ bring down] their walls. I find that’s usu­ally done within 30 min­utes and af­ter get­ting al­co­hol in their sys­tem.

Also, if you, the host, are stressed, your guests feel it too. If wine makes your nerves calmer, then by all means, down a glass of wine. For me, though, I pre­fer to drink af­ter. I’m very fo­cused on cook­ing.

How do you usu­ally serve the food? Is it buf­fet style or plated?

Christ­mas Eve is just fam­ily, Christ­mas Day is for ev­ery­one else. If there are more than 12 guests, I usu­ally do restau­rant sit­down ser­vice. If it’s more than 50, hell yeah, buf­fet style.

FROM TOP: KATE AN­ZANI PREFERS TO COOK HOL­I­DAY DIN­NERS WITH­OUT THE HELP OF HER HUS­BAND MARCO. IT SERVES AS A BREAK FOR HER HUS­BAND

WHO MAN­AGES SEV­ERAL RESTAU­RANTS; TO BREAK THE ICE, KATE USU­ALLY PRE­PARES POPOVERS WITH STRAW­BERRY

BUT­TER.

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