Open kitchens pro­vid­ing a new form of en­ter­tain­ment

Margette Sarmiento makes ev­ery hol­i­day gath­er­ing spe­cial with long-run­ning tra­di­tions and cre­ative sur­prises

Cebu Living - - Front Page - MARGETTE SARMIENTO

As we en­ter a quaint white liv­ing room, made or­nate with fresh flow­ers and a Christ­mas tree in one cor­ner, a friendly Siberian husky and a lit­tle poo­dle, named Luna and Mo- mo ( short for Moet) re­spec­tively, run down the stairs. Christ­mas is definitely in the air here; even the dogs feel the hol­i­day cheer, greet­ing guests with so much warmth and open­ness.

Margette Sarmiento re­cently moved into this new house and will be cel­e­brat­ing her first Christ­mas here. Just like ev­ery year, De­cem­ber is hec­tic for ev­ery­one, but aside from the Christ­mas shop­ping and the par­ties left and right, she also has to pre­pare for her two sons’ birth­days, which fall right be­fore the hol­i­day.

If ev­ery­one’s here for the hol­i­days, how do you make it less stress­ful?

I pre­pare way ahead of time. It’s really in the prepa­ra­tion.

What is the most mem­o­rable ex­pe­ri­ence you’ve had?

Ev­ery Christ­mas, we al­ways try to make a gimmick. Once, we de­cided to buy cheap but funny gifts. To me, that meant so much be­cause there was a lot of hu­mor and cre­ativ­ity in the gifts that we gave. [For ex­am­ple,] my son gave me this gob­let that can con­tain the equiv­a­lent of one bot­tle of wine, be­cause I love wine. Some­one else re­ceived rolls of toi­let pa­per be­cause he stays in the bath­room really long. We try to get cre­ative with things.

What’s the most im­por­tant el­e­ment in preparing for hol­i­day din­ners?

I think the ta­ble set­ting is the core of the cel­e­bra­tion be­cause ev­ery­body gath­ers around it. As you can see, the din­ing area is the core of my house. Ev­ery­body meets here so I try to make it as at­trac­tive as pos­si­ble.

Can you de­scribe the style of your ta­ble set­ting?

The plates that I used were in­her­ited from my in-laws. I use them ev­ery year when we have our fam­ily din­ner. This year, I de­cided on us­ing roses to pick up the Vic­to­rian look of the plates.

How do you keep your space kid-friendly?

My chil­dren and grand­chil­dren are al­ready used to the process. They’re pretty trained, so they know what it’s like.

Do you have a hol­i­day sta­ple?

It’s ba­si­cally the dishes I cook. I also serve a lot of tapas be­cause they really enjoy them. I spe­cially pre­pare an­gu­las, baby eels from Spain; that’s my tra­di­tion. Then I have food com­ing in from the south of France and wine com­ing in from Spain. That would be the con­cept for this year: a Mediter­ranean feast.

How do you en­ter­tain when you’re not yet done cook­ing and guests start ar­riv­ing al­ready?

I pur­posely made the kitchen open so that when the food is not yet ready and I’m still cook­ing, I still get to be with the guests. They can be in the kitchen with me. I make them watch me cook, and that’s part of my en­joy­ment.

Do you have a par­tic­u­lar playlist dur­ing your din­ners?

I par­tic­u­larly like Vi­valdi, clas­si­cal mu­sic. But my chil­dren al­ways change it to mu­sic of newer artists.

What’s your most im­por­tant tip to a host?

It would be for the host to enjoy the whole setup, the whole ex­pe­ri­ence, be­cause a lot of them get ner­vous and fret. They end up not en­joy­ing any­more. The host has to be the first one to re­lax, to be ac­com­mo­dat­ing, and to sa­vor the whole mo­ment.


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