Cater to You
When it comes to entertaining for the holidays, sometimes it’s better to leave it to the chefs who know their business
These days, people use their hard-earned money to pay for convenience. The rise in popularity of Airbnb for homey accommodations and Uber for hassle-free transport are proof.
When it comes to dining, we are definitely spoiled as we have a wide range of restaurants to choose from. But of the lot, none can give as much comfort as staging a restaurant-like set-up at home. Yes, private dining has become in fashion as of late, thanks in large part to horrible traffic and these three hostesses who are responsible for making eating in just as good— most times, even better—than dining out.
Dedet dela Fuente of Pepita’s Kitchen is a household name when it comes to succulent roast pig stuffed with an array of fillings, from marbled potatoes to truffle rice. Her lechon has already become a staple in annual holiday parties and reunions, and her new line of food fare called “Kusina ni Pepito” is fast becoming a mainstay, thanks to a well-received weeks-long buffet feast at Manila Hotel where she showcased her seafood specialties. Apart from the muchloved hiplog (prawns with salted egg sauce), she has the gulong-gulong (crab with rich coconut milk-based sauce), so named because it would have you rolling on the floor out of satisfaction. Also in her artillery are two more crab dishes:
one with gata and taba ng talangka, and another generously dredged with chili and crispy garlic, called Crab Traffic Shelter. Pepita’s Kitchen and Kusina ni Pepito: 425-4605, 0917-8660662.
It didn’t take long for Dulce Magat-Gibb to be on people’s speed dial. She started by making party dishes like Sushi Trifle, Salt-crusted Salmon with Shallot-Verjus Cream, and Crispy Roast Pork Belly with the works (gravy, lingonberry jam, apple sauce, and Dijon mustard), and soon after, plenty of get-togethers began to rely on her brand À Table Gourmet. This year, she expands her line by offering a Middle Eastern feast composed of mezzes like Betinjan mutabal, muhamara, marinated labne cheese logs, beet with labne and dill, chicken gizzard with pomegranate molasses, and phyllo cheese pie. Her heavier fare includes b’stilla, kofta, couscous, fatoush, and Iranian jewelled rice. To cap off the meal, there are desserts such as baklava, Arabic coffee ice cream, and Arab Pancake stuffed with Walnuts. À Table Gourmet: 0917-8621800.
Happy Ongpauco-Tiu has been running a handful of successful food establishments for many years now. Among them are Pamana, which offers generations-old Filipino heirloom recipes; I Luv Backyard BBQ, which has BBQ specialties like steaks and sausages; and the Tsokolateria Artisanal Café, which is famous for everything cacao, including bibingka and waffles. Her latest endeavor is her bespoke dining services, where she gets to showcase not only her flair in preparing various cuisines like Indian and Thai, but also her floral arrangements. For the coming holidays, she has an ace up her sleeve, in the form of cochinillo—and not just any kind. Her version is Filipino-style, with the young pig wrapped in lemongrass, baked in a pugon, and then served with five kinds of sauces: laing, binagoongan, aligue aglio olio, kaldereta, and lechon. Private Dining by Happy Concept Group: 0922-8592707, 0915-4505628.
Dulce Magat-Gibb’s Crispy Roast Pork with gravy, lingonberry jam, apple sauce, Dijon mustard.
Left to right: Dulce Magat-Gibb; Happy Ongpauco-Tiu; table setup by Ongpauco-Tiu.