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.

Seafood Savories

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.

Ex­otic Eats

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.

Le­chon Love

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.

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